MEMO TO “WILLIE C.”: I (Renee) also have memories from my earliest childhood days of wood paneled station wagons. But after my folks moved to where I would attend school K to 12, they bought one of the first minivan models to come out: A Chrysler, I think. You could say I’m a bridge from the “minivan” era back to the “station wagon” age!

Dear readers: As I (Renee0 started this post on Sunday night, I recall how this very special day started for me. Being Mother’s Day in the U.S., this occasion for me always meant buying cards and flowers for my mom, doing lots of extra help around the house and breakfast in bed for mom -Served by me and my brothers. This year was different. Or as John whispered in my ear as I started to get out of bed, “Tyler has a ‘surprise’ for you so stay put!” At first, I was clueless and then PANIC! “Oh, no…My 5 1/2 year old Tyler is TRYING to fix me breakfast for Mother’s Day!” I thought. “John, I hope you and Tyler aren’t making too much of a mess out of the kitchen!…We are meeting my folks at church…” I implored. Well, there were no MAJOR messes and I had cereal and toast with coffee and milk on a tray in bed -Thanks to my little sweetheart! And with assistance from John, of course.


Dear readers: This segment is based on an event that occurred about a month ago when Jenny and Michelle’s 4th grade classes were on an out-of-town field trip. This caused me to recall another situation mentioned in a TWP 2008 post in which Michelle, by chance on her way home from aerobics class, spotted one of her students stranded outside the school as it was getting dark. She didn’t just pass by but rather, took immediate action and drove into the school parking lot. Then, Michelle called the boy’s mom to come pick him up and did NOT leave ’till the mom arrived. THAT should demonstrate the kind of people we really are: Educators who CARE about their charges. Same as for Jenny who some jerks have called a “bully” -This segment will show everyone the REAL kind-hearted person we at TWP call “Green Jenny”.

Hello everyone from the “greenest” member of TWP. (Alright, I’ll freely admit that I haven’t been able to change the school’s lighting to more energy-friendly florescent lights but I promise to keep bugging our principal about it.)

This segment is about something that happened during our annual Spring field trip which our school does every year. It has been my idea since I started teaching to do field trips with an environmental education theme. While having fun, I believe it is a good thing that children to be exposed to educational themes as well.

This year, our school selected the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee to visit. The city is in southeast Tennessee and is on the Tennessee River. The trip was only a few hours and several grade levels were packed on several school buses with a few parental volunteers to accompany us. You can never let your guard down, even with parents helping out, because it takes just one child to get separated from the group.

That is exactly what happened to a 2nd grader from another school system whose class was just ahead of ours. While it is normal to divide a large multi-grade group into smaller groups to go on field trips -No system is perfect all the time. As I followed my “group” and encouraged the slowest kids to “move along” as we walked through the Shark exhibit, I noticed a young boy who seemed to be lost or looking for someone. He had a look of sheer PANIC on his face.

I saw the child walk up to Michelle and ask something. Michelle shook her head and waved for me to come to her. I did and asked, “Whats up, Michelle?” Michelle replied, ” I think this young child is lost…He asked me if I was with …. Elementary school…” I then said, “Michelle, I’ll see if I can re-connect this fellow with his group…You go on with the last of our kids outside to the plaza…I will catch up with you shortly.”

I sat the teary eyed boy at a bench in front of the Shark exhibit and calmed him down by telling him my name and that I was a teacher with my class. He the told me his name was Marcus and that he was from Atlanta, Georgia. Marcus kinda looked at me funny and asked, “You are a teacher?” with a big grin. I told him, “Yes, I AM a teacher and so is the blond haired lady you spoke to a minute ago…And I am a mom of a 5 year old myself so I know when a child is lost.” Marcus then sheepishly grinned and answered, “Can you be my teacher, Mrs. ….?” I immediately replied, “Don’t think so…We need to stay here until an adult from your school comes back for you.”

I then waved down a tour guide whom I then gave they info to so Marcus’ group could be found. It only took about 10 minutes before an older black lady came up saying, “Marcus, you did it AGAIN…Getting separated from your class!…You are in trouble when we get back!” I introduced myself and found out the miffed lady was Marcus’ teacher! The lady said, “Marcus is ALWAYS getting in some kind of trouble but he is REALLY going to get it when we get back!” As diplomatically as I could, I put in a few good words for Marcus and had Marcus promise to not ever separate from his group ever again. As I left to catch up with my group, the slightly white haired teacher (My future in 30 years?) smiled as she said, “That promise will lat through this afternoon.”

Well, the most important thing is that I helped to reunite a “lost child” with his classmates AND probably kept same child out of deeper trouble with his teacher.

All in all, a good day!



Dear readers: An anti- c.p. commentator named Bob T. made a compromise proposal a few months ago that paddling in school COULD be permissible if the student were allowed to “choose” it over other punishments such as detention and/or suspension. At first glance, this SEEMS like a “middle of the road” proposition. But as educators in the “field”, we at TWP saw through this proposal and realized it’s true intent.

First, lets set the parameters of elementary education which we specialize in. A typical elementary classroom has a single teacher all day for that class. Discipline is in following order: Warning, verbal reprimand, loss of privileges, recess sit in and then corporal punishment unless child was opted out by parents -In that case the next step is out-of-school suspension. In the middle/high school (or secondary school level) which starts at 6th grade, the discipline options are different after reprimand with 1 hour detention afters chool, In School Suspension (All day) and corporal punishment as an option for parents to choose to avoid out-of-school suspension. Some middle and high schools also have Saturday school and/or evening school. But the options are greater at higher grade levels because NO elementary school will ever contemplate I.S.S. or evening school for children ages 5 to 11.

Second, lets consider these differences in light of the “choice” proposal. At the elementary level, it is just between c.p. and out-of-school suspension -That’s it! Realistically, we at TWP believe this proposal is intended just for secondary level. While the proposal did NOT specifically include elementary education, we still feel that older students should NOT be “choosing” their punishments. When an older student gets to the point of c.p. or out-of-school suspension, he/she has ALREADY made a series of bad choices.

Taking the proposal literally, we at TWP truly believe it to be a cleaver “bait and switch” scheme. To start, it would ELIMINATE all school c.p. at the elementary level since the only other option is out-of-school suspension. No school system will EVER give 5 to 11 year olds that kind of “choice”. In the secondary level, the “choice” proposal has a “hidden trap.” It says NOTHING  about teacher “shied laws” or parental opt outs which TWP supports. As such, the “choice” proposal sounds more like a sneaky way to eliminate ALL  school c.p. without being overt.

The proposal would work this way. First, it would do away with ALL school c.p. at the elementary level, irregardless of parental opt ins or outs. (Because elementary children just will not be allowed to choose out-of-school suspension.) So, in reality, you have eliminated two-thirds of all school c.p. right away. Then, at the secondary level, students have a “right to choose”. Big problem: Until age 18, they are still minors. Without liability protection for teachers, that “choice” will become theoretical. And remember, 6th to 8th grade has high c.p. numbers but falls way down in the high school level.

TWP’s conclusion: Bob T’s proposal is like a car in an used car lot. Always look under the hood BEFORE buying and driving it off the lot -Because you may have a lemon. You can always sue the “lemon” car salesman -But it is a LOT harder to change a “bad policy”.



Dear readers: This edition of my chronicles in student teaching is going to take a detour from my internship to my actual searching for my first teaching job. And while my university’s placement office was helpful as to resume writing and on-campus interviews during career week, that was only a start. People have asked me what the name of the state-wide agency is that teachers all apply with for teaching jobs.


Pardon me for the harsh laughs but I couldn’t help myself while looking back on the time, miles, and gas $$$ spent in search of a teaching job. I really DO think there is a conspiracy between oil companies and school districts to force a lot of gas money out of graduating college education majors. Why? Because there is NO central agency that hires public school teachers for a state. Nope, you gotta go to EACH AND EVERY school district you wish to apply to for a face-to-face interview. I did mail out completed applications (All ask nearly identical questions but EACH form is unique. Grrrr…) to over 100 districts but did state that I would do an interview ONLY for a vacancy -I know central office educrats need to “justify” their jobs but…Come on!

Anyway, I knew that after graduation from Georgia, I was going to have some quality time with my Chevy hatchback. I got it fully serviced on a Monday back in my hometown (Including the AC system for sure -Those Georgia summers are legendary for their heat/humidity!) And away I went, the “queen of the interstate”, cruising from one county to the next and one interview after another. I didn’t cover every county in the state but it seemed like it. And lest anyone think I am a Georgia educator, I also job searched a couple other states which I knew I would be certified in.

Something “cutie” that has stuck to me to this day: A bunch of interviews, including the one where I was eventually hired, started out with the principal remarking, “Miss…., you look so much like Molly Ringwald!” At first, I didn’t know who that was and was slightly miffed. One night, as I was calling home from a budget motel, I asked my youngest of three older brothers who Molly Ringwald was. After he stopped laughing, he told me she was a movie star who made a hit movie called Sixteen Candles. I then remembered the “dorky” teen heartbreak classic that my brothers INSISTED I watch on the VHS player for MY 16th birthday party in 1995. At the time, I thought the 1980s movie was silly but you know what? There IS an amazing resemblance -So much that I also recall my dear(?) brothers wanting to sign me up as Molly’s “stunt double”. (Sounds just like big brothers, huh?) Some of the older principals still kid me about my resemblance but I don’t really mind. Hey, it could be worse!

Anyway, I put 100s of miles on that Chevy of mine but did not receive a call offering me a teaching job until a little less than two weeks before school would start. At this point, I was exhausted and dejected as to my job search journey. I remember that day like yesterday. I was just laying on the hammock in the back yard when mom called out, “Renee, telephone call…For you!” Folks, I’m not sure what the exact distance between that hammock and the back patio door was but I would have sprinted past Florence Griffith-Joiner at that moment!

Finally, at last -After 4 years in college with too many midterms, finals and term papers to count, I was a FULL FLEDGED TEACHER! After accepting the offer, I then remembered to thank mom and dad for their patience, support and love they showered me with for 22 years. (And yes, my big brothers all got hugs too -For whatever!) Funny thing though -I had to look up exactly where the county was that my first paid teaching job would be at. Suffice to say, the cultural amenities were the mirror opposite of New York City for sure -But I prefer my cities UNDER 500,000 anyway.

It was a fast two days of packing and planning but with the help of mom, dad and two brothers (The third was in the U.S. Army), I was settled into my little apartment of two years only one day before the first day of teacher inservice! From career start to marriage to buying my first home to Tyler, I have had an adventure -To say the least!



Renee, as an assistant principal, have you ever had students ask you to give them “swats” instead of In School Suspension?

Unfortunately, yes. My goal, as assistant principal, was to REDUCE the use of school c.p. and have succeeded in that. The previous year, there was over sixty paddlings and this year about 12 in a school of 800 +/- students. But the I.S.S. number had increased nearly 3x. Ever since word got out about the one boy I paddled (because no male teacher/coach was available that 1st period), I have been asked to “Just gimme three swats so I don’t miss…(pick your sport).” My response is always the same: “As assistant principal, it is MY prerogative to decide penalties -Not yours!…Report for I.S.S. 7:30 am tomorrow SHARP!”

Why do you “Bible Thumpers” try to force your religion on others?

Huh? What ARE you talking about? 🙄 It seems to us that YOU are the one who is “INTOLERANT” of other people’s beliefs and values. As for us, we are ALL Christians of various denominations (One Roman Catholic) and while we would never “shove” our faith on anyone else -We will NOT shy from it either. Two of us do wear crosses/crucifixes on necklaces but at the same time, stay neutral as to religion while teaching in school.

What is wrong with running in the hallways anyway? Poor Rob didn’t know what the rules were -So why paddle him?

I expected this one. First, running in the hallways is ALWAYS wrong. First, because of the risk of running into someone -Like Rob did to Michelle. Second, as to the “firedrill” -No school would allow running during such an event. The office of State Fire Marshall takes school firedrills VERY seriously and requires them so students will know what to do in the event of an actual emergency. You could say our principal, Mr. Smith, has a ZERO TOLERANCE policy when it comes to any “horseplay” during a firedrill. As to Rob, he came from another elementary school in our county and should have understood the rules -He IS a 4th grader, after all!

It is ILLEGAL to paddle special needs children like Rob who are ADHD. Did you not bother to check his Individual Education Program?

Did we EVER say he was a “special needs” student? NO, WE DID NOT! Rob had no file as far as I (Renee) know but Mr. Smith did contact his mother. Rob is probably “borderline” ADHD but so what? An I.E.P. file does not automatically prohibit the use of school c.p.

Memo to all: Do not ASSUME too much about that which you do NOT know anything about!








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