49. JENNY AND THE CASE OF “THE MISSING FROG” & YOUR FAQ’s

MEMO TO READERS: We have been asked if we are close to Gaffney, South Carolina where a string of serial murders have taken place. The answer is NO but thanks for your concern. I (Renee) am a little familiar with the town having passed through it a few times and am thankful that *@#*# met his end -Courtesy of the police.

MEMO TO “THEHITTINGSTOPSHERE” WEBSITE: Y’all should quit when you’re head. You commended the 100 largest school districts in the U.S. that do NOT have school c.p. That’s fine if urban school systems (Most are the worst districts in their states) are a “model of excellence” in your opinion. But you hurt your own cause when you listed the three largest paddling districts in the U.S. One of them, Shelby County in Tennessee, is one of the best performing districts in the state while the Memphis City School District (Inside Shelby County itself) is one of the worst districts despite a c.p. ban in effect for several years. Rhetorical question: Of the two, which school district would you enroll your child in -One with paddles (Shelby) or hallway police officers (Memphis)?

Dear Readers: We at TWP are back in action after the July 4th festivities and our graduate class midterm exams. (Hey, y’all think we just show up one night a week and pretend to listen to the professor?) Jenny and Michelle ACED their exams in the Master of Science Elementary Education Curriculum course and I (Renee) ACED my exam on “Advanced Principles of School Site Management.” One more course next summer with my thesis and I will have the Master of Science in Education Administration! But as I mentioned in prior posts, I WILL be taking an intern assistant principalship this fall at my county’s large middle school. EVERYONE has been giving me “last rites.” (Thanks for the encouragement, y’all -I couldn’t make it w/o your “vote of confidence!”)

This post, however, concerns Jenny and an episode that occurred last year. The only previous post about Jenny was titled HOW JENNY HANDLED A PARENT’S PADDLING COMPLAINT and has been one of our most popular posts aside from those concerning Michelle. Jenny, our Tina Faye/Sara Palin look-alike (Jenny absolutely HATES being compared to either), is a 4th grade teacher next door to Michelle’s room and is our unofficial “environmental science” teacher who is certainly “green” about recycling and energy efficiency. In fact, Jenny has driven Mr. Smith, our principal, nuts about changing our classroom lights to energy-saving florescent lightbulbs.

Well, here’s the story as told by Jenny and edited by yours truly.

JENNY AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING FROG

Hello, “Dear Readers” as Renee likes to refer to our loyal and growing web audience. As Renee described above, I have a passion for science and environmental education that gives me a chance to teach subject matter above and beyond the textbooks that the typical elementary student is limited to. From chemical demos on acidity and base to observing plant and animal life, I have been able to introduce 9 and 10 year olds to the wonders of basic science.

Please do understand that our pupils are not allowed to DIRECTLY experiment with science lab instruments BECAUSE they are too young for that! Also, as with teacherswhopaddle weblog, our “kids” sometimes get into trouble and…by now, you know what can happen if you have kept up with our prior posts. Finally, I hope you readers understand that like Renee, Wendy, and Michelle -I too despise the c.p. part of my teaching job. A reader commented about my students being “angelic” because of the lack of coverage on me by the blog. Rest assured, nothing could be further from the truth than to describe my students as “angelic” as this story will show.

This happened on a sunny spring day last year in which the year had gone smoothly for my class with no major problems. In fact, I considered this class the best behaved of my then 5 year career.

My main technique is to keep the kids busy but also to make learning “fun.” We at TWP all strive to do this and succeed 99% of the time. Its the 1% that makes me wonder why I didn’t choose marine biology as a college major.

My class, combined with Michelle’s, was to observe a FROG DISSECTION performed by yours truly. Please understand that the frog in the dissection was ordered at school expense and the kids were all excited about it. But in NO WAY would I ever tolerate or condone any kind of animal cruelty by anyone -Especially the students. The single frog was already DEAD and was shipped to me by a school science lab company for the purpose of DISSECTING it. I just know that this blog will catch H*** from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (P.E.T.A.) so here is my reply in advance: If you are dead-set against ANY use of animals for valid science or educational purposes, then PLEASE -Refuse ALL medical health care in the future because there were animals used to advance the medical science that may save your life! As for my class, you never know: A future doctor might be started on his way to saving YOUR life someday. Think about that!

Well, the “frog dissection” was scheduled for after lunch/recess which I announced early that morning when the package was delivered by U.P.S. Everything went as normal that morning and some of the kids were almost giddy in anticipation. As Michelle’s class joined mine for the much anticipated dissection to be performed by yours truly, I noticed that the shipping box looked as though it had been slightly moved. I then thought that perhaps it had been moved by one of my pupils when we lined up for lunch. As I started to pick up the box, my “eagle” eyes noticed one boy named Marty who looked like he might burst open laughing.

Then, when I started to pick the box up, a sound I would not have expected in a BILLION years caused Marty to nearly fall out of his seat laughing. The sound was “Froguese!”

RIBBET…RIBBET…RIBBET

The whole class, including my teaching comrade Michelle, all broke out laughing. When I gingerly opened the partly open box (The partly opened box should have tipped me off that something was amiss), lo and behold -A live frog instead of the dissection frog.

I DO have a sense of humor as I giggled a bit but before I could say anything, Marty asked with a wide grin,”Are you going to dissect MY pet frog?”

Straining to keep from cracking up myself, I replied,”No, Marty, I am NOT dissecting a frog you slipped in here from the creek behind the playground during recess a little while ago.” (I then recalled seeing Marty slyly sneaking into the building during recess) I then motioned for Marty to come up to the front of the class and carefully placed the frog in his hands while being sure that it did not “escape.”

“Come with me, Marty…Lets take our ‘guest’ and return him back to where he belongs,” I implored as the two of us exited the classroom to a chorus of snickering. That only took a few minutes and as we walked back in the classroom, I then asked,”O.k., Marty…Where is the dissection frog that was supposed to be in the shipping box?…I’m NOT angry…but you will miss afternoon recess…understand?” (I do have a sense of humor but did not want to start a precedent)

“Uhhh…Mrs. …., I hid it in the large box over there just before O’ Clyde walked in on me…He nearly caught me and…,” mumbled Marty as he pointed to my recycled paper’s box -Which was VERY EMPTY!

“Noooo…Marty…Please tell me…Not THAT BOX!” I groaned. I knew that Clyde, our school janitor, picked up my recycle paper only a half hour earlier.

“Maybe he saw it…I’ll go ask…,” I stammered, my head spinning and my stomach starting a “Malox Moment.” As I scurried to find Clyde, I thought I heard Marty whinne, “He probably didn’t see it since I hid it under some old papers so you wouldn’t see it and spoil the ‘joke’.”

“JOKE?” I wondered…Somehow, I just could not see any thing funny anymore but rather -A missing dissection frog that cost $20 total. And worst of all -Clyde told me a few minutes later that the recycle papers had already been picked up by the folks I personally recruited for the school recycle program. I Then had a sinking feeling of a $20 dissection frog LOST under a pile of paper in the back of a large truck that was long gone. I had bugged our principal about money to buy the dissection frog for weeks -Now it was lost because of a “joke on the teacher.”

Assigning some “busywork” to occupy the class, I took Marty out into the hallway as Michelle watched over the kids who grumbled,”Paddle him, Mrs. …., paddle him…Stupid jerk lost the d*** frog!”

I shook my head and warned the kids that any more remarks would result in recess “sit-ins.” In the hall, Marty repeatedly apologized which I accepted but informed him that lost school materials would be assessed to the parents as per school policy. When told him this, Marty begged,” PLEASE…Don’t tell my folks…They’ll KILL me…Anything else…ANYTHING!” (I know that Marty’s father is a pastor in a local church who definitely believes in “Spare the rod and spoil the child” -If only more parents were just half as strict as Marty’s, there would be no need for school c.p.)

I shook my head and started towards the office when Marty blurted, “Why don’t you just paddle me instead…I’ll get worse at home anyway so…” But I was of the opinion that the school’s $$ had been wasted and Marty’s parents would need to pay restitution. “Awww, h***, I’m gonna get it tonight!…I didn’t mean for the frog to get taken out with the recyclables…And you are my favorite teacher…It was only supposed to be a ‘joke’ and I messed up…I’m sorry…,” Marty blubbered as a tear started down one cheek.

Being the soft heart that I really am, I turned and said,”O.k., Marty…Wait here while I see Miss ….(Michelle). Well, to say Michelle was reluctant would have been a MAJOR understatement but we both knew about Marty’s father. Having Clyde watch the room (He really thinks he is “part” teacher), Michelle and I escorted Marty to the conference room for a “volunteer paddling.” Michelle and I both detested this but decided not to turn the matter over to the office or Marty’s parents.

“Marty, I am going to give you two swats instead of calling your mom and dad -Do you understand?” I asked as Michelle closed the door.

“Yes ma’am, Mrs….and I’m sorry…,” Marty replied.

After having Marty bend over with his hands on the wall, I asked if there was anything in his back pockets When he said “no” I proceeded to give two quick and rather mild swats to Marty’s blue jean clad rear end.

WHOOSH…POP WHOOSH…POP Our 16″ x 3 1/2″ x 1/4″ paddles are lighter than they look but, if swung right, make an unusual sound. After all, a paddling should be more psychological than physical -In my opinion.

When Marty turned around, he threw his arms around my waist and whinned,”I’m so sorry…Please don’t be mad at me…”

“Alright, Marty…We are finished…and No, I am NOT mad at you -Just a little disappointed by your carelessness…And remember, NO recess this afternoon for bringing an ‘uninvited’ guest.”

Marty then grinned broadly and walked back to the classroom as Michelle and I could only shake our heads. Those teacher prep courses in college will never prepare a teacher for what we at TWP have to deal with.

In closing, my biggest concern was a few of the rougher kids picking on Marty who was a smaller boy in his age group. For a few days, Michelle and I watched over Marty like mother hens but nothing happened. Finally, there were no other ” jokes” for the rest of the year and I was able to order a replacement dissection frog a few days later with money chipped in from some of the teachers. The dissection went w/o a hitch and everyone was able to learn a bit of basic anatomy.

 

YOUR FAQ’s

Are all of you at TWP planning to become principals?

I (Renee) thought that I had made that clear. The answer is NO and I am the only one of us pursuing a M.S. degree in Educational Administration. The others (Jenny, Wendy, Michelle) are working on M.S. degrees in Elementary Education and will become “Master Teachers” but not administrators per se. Most educators choose the former over the latter as they upgrade their credentials. (Fewer headaches too!)

Since three of you are moms, will you exempt your kids from school c.p. or not?

As parents, we all feel that it is OUR responsibility to teach proper behavior BEFORE the child starts school. We are on agreement on this: Our kids will be in REALLY BIG trouble if they behave badly enough in school to get paddled. Remember: We are teachers too and will definitely communicate with the teachers of our children on a regular basis.

 

COMING NEXT: HOW TO (AND NOT TO) PLAN COMMUNITY GROWTH

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