The powers of enlightenment won out yesterday and drew Anne back into school. “Against our will, Papa, against our will.” Her resistance wasn’t entirely futile though. She held out for two-hours and got to sleep in, before a personal, non-robotic appeal eventually succeeded. She ended up subbing for the ESOL teacher. Now ESOL doesn’t stand for Educator S— Out of Luck, but rather English as a Second or Other Language. It use to be called English as a Second Language, but many of these children already speak two or more languages, just not English. On this day, Anne taught kids from Syria, Cambodia, Russia, Brazil and various Hispanic countries. As a reward, she was gifted by one of her students with the pictured drawing.
The big news this week in the third grade is that the chicks have hatched. For weeks now, a dozen eggs have been incubating. Anne had to go into school over the Labor Day weekend to flip the eggs. Eleven of the twelve eggs hatched and all eleven seem to be doing well. Now comes their naming. Anne’s class gets to name two of the chicks. There is no shortage of suggestions. In a few weeks the chicks will be old enough to be sexed. City ordinance allows the keeping of chickens, but not roosters. This is not Key West. Here their early morning crowing is deemed a noise nuisance. After they are sexed, the male chickens will be sent back to the farm from whence they came. Eggs from the remaining hens will be harvested. For now the eleven sure are cute.
Anne is subsumed these days with teaching the third grade. I am happy for her. With this opportunity she has come closer to her goal of being a “real” teacher than she has for a long time. She started at the beginning of the school year and got to frolic for a week with all of the other teachers, as they prepared for the coming academic year, sans kids. It became more stressful, when the students arrived and she began to mold them with her expectations. She works long hours every school day and still has more work that she brings home. Her conversation is dominated by all things third grade. Frankly, I am feeling a bit neglected. Gone are those heady days of summer, where the two of us explored the West. That’s OK though, it is not for forever. I can tough it out and usually, once she gets her footing in one of these gigs, she eases up just a bit. Earlier this month I heard an interview with retiring Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, who spoke about her husband sometimes complaining of being at the bottom of her priority list. “There are two ways to look at it. You should be happy you’re on the list.”
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.
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.
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.