School’s Out for Summer!


Antelope Canyon Portrait

This will be Anne’s last week of school. Everyone else still has almost two more weeks of school, but not Anne. This is an advantage of being a substitute. Next week, we begin our summer adventures. After all, what are the three best things about teaching? June, July and August. It is only mid-May, so we are front loading the summer a bit, but Anne snagged a long term substitute gig that begins in early August. So, there is not any time to waste. We’ll be doing some travel. We have a birthday boy to fête, a wedding to attend and plenty of sights to see. 

Soul Food Supper

Research in a Growth Hormone, Alfred Jensen, 1978

Black History Month is winding down and last night, Anne and I attended the annual Soul Food Supper, at the high school. We have been regular attendees of this event for years and the turnout this year was the biggest ever. We arrived only 15 minutes after the doors opened and there was already a huge line that snaked through the cafeteria. This afforded Anne the opportunity to hobnob with everyone as we moved along: Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came…

While in line, we passed by the high school jazz band that was serenading the crowd. I quipped to her, “Look, it’s Dave’s old band.” David had played the saxophone in the jazz band, when he was in high school. The current iteration of the jazz band is a lot larger than when he was there and I must admit that they sound better too. Dave never liked to practice the sax all that much. Now, music students use software that monitors, tabulates and reports on how many minutes are spent practicing. It looks like Big Brother would have been better at getting Dave to practice than we were.

Still in line and just after we had passed the jazz band, we met Chris H, Dave’s former music teacher and band director. Chris still works for the school system. He is in IT now. When he asked us how David was doing, I was able to regale him, “He is Doctor Dave now. Last year, he got his PhD at Purdue. Now he is at Harvard Medical School.” Chris asked us what was Dave’s area of research. I told him hearing, which seemed to impress him more than all of the rest.

Finally, we reached the serving line. The fare has changed little over the years. Fried chicken headlined our plates and was accompanied by sweet potatoes, collard greens, mashed potatoes with gravy, black-eyed peas and corn bread. We found seats right in front of the middle school choir, just as they began to sing.

As we closed out the supper, people came and went from our table. The most memorable person who shared our table was a two-year-old child. He never said much, primarily because he spent most of the time feeding his face. He ate every food on his plate and then he began raiding the plates of his two parents. Yeah folks, the food really was that good. 

Backpack Full of Cash

Barbarians at the Gates

We barely escaped home this morning. MSD had already trenched across the front of our driveway, when we were ready to leave. Fortunately, Anne had parked the Prius up the street the night before. We had gone to the high school to see the documentary, “Backpack Full of Cash”. Narrated by Matt Damon, this movie deals with the growing privatization of public schools in America, all under the guise of educational reform. Under pressure at both the state and Federal levels, support for public education was the rallying cry in this partisan film. It was followed with a panel discussion by state and local educators. The resistance will not go quietly into the night.

Oldest Schoolhouse

Oldest Schoolhouse

Here is Anne the teacher standing in front of the oldest wooden schoolhouse in America. Located in St. Augustine, where everything is labeled ancient*, we viewed this venerable tourist attraction only from the outside, electing not to go inside. Even though the price of admission would have entitled us each to a diploma. The self-guided tour has an animatronic teacher and student giving a brief history on the house. Note that this school is qualified as the oldest wooden schoolhouse. The oldest school is on Staten Island and is not made of wood. As you can see, it was cold there, but not as cold as where you were. 

* In no way am I inferring that Anne is the oldest wooden teacher.

School of Rock

School of Rock

Last night, we went to the Fabulous Fox to see the Broadway musical, “School of Rock”. This show’s tickets were our deadline for our return to Saint Louis. The show is based upon the 2003 Jack Black comedy movie of the same name. Music is by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the cast is evenly divided between adults and 5th-graders, with the central figure, Dewey, straddling both categories. Dewey is an out of work rock-wannabe, who in the opening scene is kicked out of the band that he created.

Under pressure to come up with rent money (You must pay the rent! I can’t pay the rent.), he takes up a substitute teaching position at preppy Horace Green Elementary, masquerading as his roommate, Mr. Schneebly. Discovering that these stuck-up kids actually have musical talent, Dewey decides to use them to win the upcoming battle of the bands competition. What could go wrong?

The kids were delightful in their roles and enthralled their numerous young audience counterparts, especially when they called on everyone to “Stick it to the man!” It was announced before the show that the children actually play their own instruments. I’m going to have to look into this talent thing, it looks quite useful. Overall, the show was an enjoyable, light and fun fare. I was glad to see that Sir Webber is settling nicely into his second childhood.

We found ourselves between a rock and a hard place, when this morning’s call came all too early. Anne received the call to arms. Kelly’s robo-call detailed her Early Childhood Center (ECC) assignment as “Eek!” Exactly.

Before we left for Florida, I had repeatedly implored Anne not to take any jobs at ECC, also-know-as plague central and she heeded me. So, while in Florida, we survived alligators, poisonous snakes and Florida drivers, all without incurring any illnesses. While, we were away, Anne monitored the situation back at the elementary school, where at least some of the older students there seem capable of spelling the word hygiene.

There was the late-start morning caused when too many of the bus drivers were sick with the flu, to man all the vehicles and there was that one plaintive plea for Kleenex from the office. We missed all that, but today Anne dove headfirst into an inevitably worse situation. I however found myself left to my own devices and it is such a beautiful day. I think that instead of sticking it to the man, I’ll go out and play. Rock-on!


Friday Night, Cook’s Night Out

Fresh Eggs

As amazing as this rather retro poster’s price is, I bought eggs last week for 49¢. It was a fluke, because the next time I shopped for eggs they were a much less surprising $1.49. I don’t think that it was a typo though.

I picked Anne up from school. Our destination was the Maplewood business district and their Christmas tree lighting. On the way over, Anne vented about her day:

A 3rd Grader: Why did you mark all my answers wrong?
Our Favorite Teacher: I’m working with this student. Please wait your turn.
A3G: You always mark my answers wrong, because you don’t like me.
OFT: I grade tests independent of who took it.
A3G: You hate me!
OFT: I do not hate you.
A3G: You just said, “I […] hate you.”

The MRH Elementary School choir was the highlight of the tree ceremony. We tried shopping at some of the stores, but they were all slammed. I’ll swing by later, during the week, when they will be less crowded. We supped at Reed’s American Table and shared 3 small plates for dinner:

kale salad, apricots, cherries, pecans, Stilton blue cheese & juniper dressing
“lobster” roll, butter poached monk fish, sauce americaine, brioche, tarragon & chive
mushroom panna cotta, leaks, shiitake and cremini mushrooms, frisee salad, grapes & walnut vinaigrette

For dessert, we shared:

persimmon tart, nutmeg oat streusel, brandy caramel & vanilla whipped cream

After eating out at Reed’s, the difference between buying eggs at 49¢ versus $1.49 was just budget dust. There was frost on the windshield and there is now snow on the blog. This Christmas thing is starting to get real. Happy Holidays!