These Horrible Teachers

Mean Teacher

It has to have something to do with the folks who are drawn to teach high school.  The elementary school teachers our family has encountered have been wonderful.  The middle school teachers as well.  And now that we’ve gotten through a semester of college, it seems that the only ones with the problems are that dag burned senior high bunch.  Somewhere around 9th or 10th grade, the people leading my children in their classrooms change.  It happened with DJ, and now it is happening to Stephanie.  Poor souls.

These people are apparently, “trying to kill” my kids.

I’m not clear on the method, but upon entering high school, almost daily, and for nearly four years without ceasing, a child at my dinner table informs me that at least one, and often more, of their teachers, are “TRYING TO KILL” them.

I am dismayed to discover that not only are they trying to get rid of my children, but they are also doing the same to EVERY other kid at their school.  This is a cruel group of adults.

“EVERYONE IS FLUNKING MATH,” I am told when my child confesses to a less than worthy grade.

School administrators should really do something about that.

“Is Ashley flunking too?” I inquire.

“Dad, SHE’S a genius!  But EVERYONE else is FLUNKING!  I know I only got a 73 on the test, but Ann Marie got a 62!”

“I’m so proud.  You weren’t the very worst.”

“Oh, and EVERY girl in that class has a tutor.”

“Mmm.  Well I saw Grace’s mom the other day, and she didn’t mention a tutor.”

“Well, I’m not sure about Grace, but EVERYONE else does.”

“Does Sarah?”

“I DON’T KNOW ABOUT SARAH!!  But Lilly does.”

“So how many girls are in the class?”

“Like 18.”

“So out of 18, you are firmly aware that one has a tutor?  That is like 5%.”

“I’m sure there are more.”

“Mmm.”

The other day I discovered that another teacher had given an exam and had not covered any of the concepts that were on the test prior to.

“Dad, I didn’t do very well on my math test.”

“Why?”

“Because she tested us on material that she had NEVER covered in class.”

“She didn’t cover any of it?

“No.”

“Well, she should be fired.”

“I agree.”

A friend told me his son got a B in PE.  Not unheard of, but this high school boy is one of the strongest athletes at the school.  When my friend asked his son how in the heck he managed to not ace physical education, his son informed him that the teacher was making them write down the rules of volleyball for a grade.

“Don’t you know the rules of volleyball?” his dad inquired.

“Yes I do.  But dad, you aren’t supposed to WRITE in PE!  So I didn’t so the assignment.”

My friend then informed his son that if he ever got a B in PE again, his life would radically change.  He son questioned what that meant.  My friend simply said, “Get that B, and you’ll find out.”

I am sometimes amazed at at what my children will do to lengthen a writing assignment.  Apparently you can go into a Word document and increase the font size of your periods.  On a five page paper, that adds about four 52 characters.  They only have to stoop to these elongating tricks because their teachers assign unreasonably long papers.

When DJ was a sophomore, I was so concerned at the ineptness of one of these instructors that I set a meeting to confront her unprofessional behavior.  It was interesting that she saw things differently than my daughter.  I was a bit embarrassed.  Now, I do a little more investigating before zinging off a terse email to our school’s headmaster about the lack of intellectual prowess of her staff.

I am a lucky dad.  I have three very smart and capable kids who do very well in school.  Thank goodness, considering the teachers.

Sunday Post 173: A Little White Lie

The other day in the car, Stephanie turned to me with a very serious look on her face and asked, “Have you ever told a lie?”

That’s a loaded question, especially with her eleven year old sister in the back seat.

“Mmmm.”  I needed to buy some time.

“Yeah. I’m sure I have.” The fact of the matter was I knew I had but I didn’t want to be that confident, like I’d done it that morning. Wanted it to seem like I couldn’t really pinpoint anything specific any time in the recent past.

I thought my guilty plea would end the conversation – I was wrong.

“When?”

She acted like it was once. Sort of like when I got my appendix removed.

I honestly couldn’t think of a recent fib so I had to reach back to come up with something. The one that popped into my head was one I was sure they could relate to.

Well, you see, in high school I hated PE class. I hated changing clothes in front of the other guys, and I particularly hated the weeks we spent doing gymnastics. We were required to walk on the balance beam, and I could not. We had to jump the horse and my legs did not split in a horizontal fashion.

But what was even worse was climbing the rope in the gym. It was hanging from a rafter and we had to shimmy up the thing like Tarzan.

Joey Brenier could do it. Hank Downing could do it. Sam McNally could do it. I could not.

One February morning, I happened to walk by the gym early during first period. I’d been anticipating Rope Day for a few weeks, but I glanced in the gym and there was our 95 year old gym teacher, Miss Cherry, holding the bottom of the rope while the fellas were doing all they could to hoist themselves up the fibrous vine.

When I hit the gym third period, I skipped the locker room and headed straight to the bleachers. Miss Cherry was pacing the gym floor, waiting for her plebes.

“Tanner,” she always called us by our last names with her deep southern drawl, “why aren’t you dressed out?”

I couldn’t tell the truth – well Miss Cherry, I hate climbing the rope so I’m taking the day off. No.  I instead I lied. Without flinching and without explanation, I reported: “I forgot my gym clothes. Just give me a zero for today.”

“Tanner.”

“Yes m’am?”

“Let’s go check your locker.”

Oh snap.

I knew if I opened my locker it was likely that I hadn’t forgotten my PE clothes at all. It was quite likely they were on the top shelf, and I had simply overlooked them.

I don’t know why I didn’t just confess that I’d lied while we were still in the gym. I guess I’d hoped that perhaps a hoodlum had broken into my locker and stolen my t-shirt and shorts between my arrival at school that morning and third period. Unfortunately for me, that was not the case.

I opened the door.

“Just like I thought Tanner. Get dressed. We have a rope to climb.”

The girls enjoyed my story, and I explained that lying sometimes did not pay off. Then I asked them if they had ever lied.

Without missing a beat, Michelle lit up, “Well, I did tell you I loved you.”

She giggled.

Stephanie tossed her thoughts in, “Awwwkward.”

I hope they learn from my mistakes. But it is likely they’ll have to go through their own Miss Cherry debacle to truly learn their lesson.

If I had to do it again, I wish I hadn’t lied. I wish I would have just left the gym shorts at home that day.

The Evolution of Dad Dancing

My oldest daughter sent me this video last week.  She wrote:  This is you dad.

When do you move from that guy in high school coolly laying on the floor during the song “Shout” to this guy?

I can almost smell Elizabeth Hall, my high school sweetheart, in the fellowship Hall at Highland Methodist Church at a Friday night dance in 1982.  A mix of sweat, Polo by Ralph Lauren and Jean Nate.  Veronica Jamiachello and Dale Angel, the King and Queen of the party, dancing in the middle of the room.  Ebo, as we called her, and I, snuggled close nearby, barely swaying back and forth.  My hands awkwardly propped on her hips.

Always and forever

Each moment with you

Is just like a dream to me

That somehow came true

She actually wore knee highs under her formal prom dress.  What a cool chic.

Uncle Jesse is a good dancer.  He’s cool – with lots of rhythm, and he’s confident enough that he doesn’t seem to care what everybody else in the room thinks.  I wish I could dance like him.

I don’t think I’m as bad as the guy in the video, but I’m certainly not smooth.  I do alright on the shag, a waltz or a slow dance.  But turn on the music and throw me in the middle of the floor, expected to coordinate both arms, both legs and spontaneously choreograph my moves and I’m in trouble.  I call it “free dancing.”  Yea, free to make a fool of yourself.

Last weekend my dad was inducted into the Fayetteville, NC, Music Hall of Fame.  After the presentation, we joined 2,000 others for a Kool In The Gang concert.  Interestingly, there was no one on that stage older than me and the Gang was popular in the early 1980s.  I think we really saw the Grandchildren of Cool In The Gang.  After five songs my dad had to leave – said it was “Too Loud.  Just too much for him.  He couldn’t take anymore.”

It’s too loud?  This coming from a man who blares the television at 140 decibels because he’s going deaf!  My mom and I have to step outside to chat during the nightly news.

Before my dad evacuated us from the Crown Coliseum, I looked to my right and noticed an older man standing near the back row.  He was tall and slim, wearing a brown tweed overcoat and newsboy hat.  Jungle Boogie was cranking from the stage.  This dude was bobbing his head up and down and slightly moving his body.  Although his motions were modest, you could tell his entire being was oozing soul.  Sort of like the band leader in Dirty Dancing.

tito

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Now that’s how I want to move.  I’m not looking to be Mikhail Baryshnikov, just a little Tito Suarez.

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