Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Which I--And Now You--Learn That It's Simply A Matter Of Perspective

Right now, Retirement just feels like Summer Vacation.  But we have Very Serious Discussions about it.  Like this one.

Scene opens on backyard deck.  Rick has just gotten home from work.  Nance greets him as he comes out of garage. 

Me: What if you come home now and find me on the patio every night with a drink in my hand?

Rick: That would be fine. I’d love it.

Me: No! You don’t want me to drink alone!

Rick: I don’t care.

Me: But what if I get drunk? What if I just drink and drink and drink?

Rick: Don’t worry. I’ll catch up.

End scene.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

School's Out

Oh, Alice.  I can't say it any better myself, so I'll just borrow from you.  School's out for summer.  School's out forever!  Out for summer, out till fall.  We might not go back at all!

And I won't.  Go back ever, that is.  2011 is the year that Nance Finally Gets Out.  With my thirty years in, I'm retiring.  Or, retired, that is.  After doing the math, I can finish out my Illustrious Career by serving a little extra time (14 days) in July, thanks to the Nice People at HR. 

I have to say that I'm very comfortable with my decision for lots of reasons.  Thirty years is a long time to be in such a demanding, giving, calisthenic career.  I am confident that I am leaving while I'm still at the top of my game.  I had a good year with some terrific kids.  And I was fortunate to spend the vast majority of my teaching career at one school district, and one which afforded me an incredible amount of academic and professional freedom with colleagues whom I respected and had a good time with.

The only regret I leave with is that I had to mislead my students.  My decision to retire, once made, was a deeply personal and private one, and they did not know that this was my last year.  No one did. Many of them made plans to check in with me next year, either to be an aide for me or to contribute to the literary magazine for which I am the faculty adviser.  So many inquired about taking my creative writing class, knowing it was their only chance to have me again as a teacher.  I feel bad that I couldn't be entirely honest with them without making my personal life part of the public domain. 

Now, I will take some time to breathe.  I'm not sure what I'll do with all this English in my head.  Who will I share color symbolism and diction clues with in The Great Gatsby?  Who wants to talk about the Freudian elements in The Catcher in the Rye?  Anyone up for a discussion on the dynamic hero in Miller's The Crucible?  And whenever there's an impromptu forum on Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman, please let me know.  I'm all over that.  If only I could just Teach and do nothing else of it all.  That was always my most profound Joy.

In the meantime, allow me to leave you with this most apt conclusion, brought to you by a junior student of my dear friend and colleague Melanie.  I quote it verbatim:

In this novel The Great Gatsby, things got crazy but in the end there was an outcome and everyone was okay.  The End!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

War Is Hell...Wait, I Feel Like Someone Already Said That (Even Though He Wasn't In Public Education. Does It Still Count?)

In what can only be termed a Hostage Crisis Of Horrific Proportions, I AM STILL IN SCHOOL.  Certainly, this is a massive and terrible breach of the Geneva Convention (specifically, the third), and I feel much put-upon, at the very least.  Why am I being punished this way?  What have I done to deserve this?


Today, the following scene occurred in my room as I manned the SmartBoard and staunchly explicated the infinitive phrase to a roomful of long-suffering sophomore honors students who are just as strung-out on this Marathon School Year as I am.

Mrs. D.:  Okay, so!  That's the last of the verbal phrases.  Go grab the green book and let's---
Selena:  (sassy Latina girl, interrupts)  Miss D.!  How much more grammar? 
Mrs. D.:  (pointedly, in an attempt to clarify) What kind of question is that, Selena?  Can you be more specific?  Can you, say, add a verb?
Selena:  (pauses, thinks, tries again) I mean, will we be taking more notes tomorrow?
Mrs. D.:  Yes.  We have one more phrase to cover, the appositive.  It's not a verbal, but it completes our study of phrases.  Then that's it.  As far as grammar next year, I'm not sure how much you do in junior honors, but--
Selena:  (interrupts) We didn't do no grammar last year in Miss Addison's class!
Mrs. D.:  That's any grammar.  You didn't do any grammar.
Selena:  (resolutely nods head) That's how you know!

And, just for fun, here are some more student vocabulary sentences.  These come from my colleague Melanie, who teaches junior regs:

By you blasting that music, you are disquieting.
When I wrestled, I had two gain ten ponds, but I went over, so I was offset.
My shirt was susceptible when I tried it on.
It was hard for the slaves to inevitable for what they were going through.
Small animals are inhabitable in the woods.

Send help. And hurry.
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