Friday, July 31, 2015

School's in Session

My classroom, all set up and ready to be filled with high-schoolers.
This view is looking  in from the classroom door. My desk is out of sight, on the left.
The desk ahead (by the inner door) is where my aide Joe works.
July 27, 2015

For those of us who are "veteran" teachers, our official first day back on the job was this Monday, July 27. The next two days were filled with district and high school meetings and activities, and a tiny bit of time left over to work in our classrooms and prepare for students incoming on Wednesday. (That's why I spent two days the previous week getting my room in order.)

Here's a little peek at the first week back on campus...

Monday began with a district breakfast in the high school cafeteria.
Teachers and staff enjoyed visiting and catching up after 8 weeks of summer.
(Apologies to those I caught chewing or in equally unflattering poses...)
There are about 100 teachers in our small, rural, k-12 district.

After breakfast, we headed to the auditorium for a 2-hour district meeting.
Those are the district and various building leaders seated on the stage.
At the podium is our new high school principal, Jay Cox.
I've worked with him closely in the past. He's a good man.

Ms. D's "Harmonies" performed "I'll Be There for You" from Friends.
Now that song is stuck in your head, isn't it? It's still stuck in mine.

After the district meeting, we had about an hour for department meetings.
Then we were all treated to a district barbecue near the football field.

Our new superintendent and a school board member grill burgers 
for faculty and staff. 

Elementary principal Dave Clark, formerly my colleague at the high school,
serves up all the fixings in the concessions stand.

Feeding all the teachers and staff of our district.

Later in the day, I took a walk through the halls of the main building.
There was a lot of sprucing up and remodeling done over the summer.

Walls freshly painted, floors freshly waxed.

It's really not the same without students. They fill the halls with energy.

What's a senior commons without seniors?
Dylan is one of those seniors this year.

This hall looks barren. (Three people have told me it looks like a mental institution.)
For the 25 years I've worked here, its walls were hung with group pictures 
of every graduating class since the high school was established in 1963.

I understand our new leaders are going for a "clean" look, 
but a lot of student artwork and proud emblems are gone, painted over. 
The halls have lost their personality and warmth and tradition.
I hope the pictures, at least, will be rehung someday.

The front office was remodeled and carpeted.

The front of the high school was also painted, and all vegetation removed.
I do like the tan color, but I think the reddish brown is ugly and clashes with the tan.
These colors don't say "Yellow Jacket pride."
I never cared for the hedges that were removed, but the bare beds that remain
now need some decorative color, small plants, not boring gravel.
Dylan says it looks like a prison. I hope they plan some type of landscaping for the future.
"Clean" does not have to be boringly utilitarian.

Finally, the first day of school on Wednesday, July 29.
At 7:45 the students head to the gym for an opening assembly.

The stands are packed with excited students.

Our new principal decided everyone should get up in front of the crowd
and tell about the classes they teach, clubs they sponsor, or sports they coach.
The office staff went first: Denise, Jeff, Jill, Greg, Amanda, Amanda, Candy, and Jay.

Even the special education instructional aides introduced themselves.
On the far left is my aide, Joe. What would I do without him?
Although I'm teaching regular English classes for half the day (3 periods),
I still teach resource English the other 3 periods for kids with learning disabilities.

There's no picture of me in front of the crowd, so I took a picture of the crowd
while I waited for the microphone to be handed to me.
Dylan is there, in the center of the seniors crowd, black shirt, looking at his phone.
He said it was "weird" to watch his mom address the whole student body,
but he was relieved and surprised that I was able to do it without embarrassing him.

The cheer coach, my longtime friend and neighbor Michelle Daly,
asked me to film her girls when they performed. 
Afterward I was able to snap this shot while they led the fight song.

The assembly concluded after more music, games, and competitions, and then the students were sent to their homerooms for start-of-the-year instructions and take-home packets for parent signatures. The rest of the day was made up of shortened classes in which we discussed rules, discipline policy, expectations, and classroom procedures. By the end of the day, I didn't have much voice left. On Thursday we were back on regular schedule and most of us jumped into instruction.

Let the games begin! And may the odds be ever in your favor...

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