Day 11 Sunday June 20, 2010: Digging In the Dirt

 

Today is Sunday, June 20, 2010 and Day 11 of my time left at the Mont. It’s also Father’s Day, so that puts things into perspective, looking at this madness and trying to imagine it through his eyes. That sort of makes it like some weird version of “Due South,” with the Mountie Benton Fraser talking to the ghost of his Mountie father. But my dad taught me to make decisions and often we disagreed.

 

With all the packing I’ve been doing, I’ve been unearthing all sorts of stuff. I think teachers, as a profession are packrats. I know we have teachers right now gathering supplies, so they can haul them home from this vermin-infested place and store that stuff in their homes and garages to use next year: rulers and markers and poster paper and suchlike. We keep all kinds of crap. Many teachers I know have homes that always look like yard sales. I keep trying to stick with Henry David Thoreau’s idea of “Keep your accounts on your thumbnail,” but that doesn’t get applied nearly as often as it should be. And with the unearthing of these artifacts comes some introspection.

 

Amongst the artifacts to show I’ve been a part of the Mont: pinks copies of old classroom observation forms, not unlike our referrals, except these are 8 ½” x 11”. They were folded—sort of, if folded in such a way that no corner meets any other corner. I can’t make out the dates, who signed them, just that I was teaching World History and that two students walked in late. I can’t even remember when a form like this was last used. Gone.

 

Two coffee-tins full of colored pencils. The artist in my advisory period got those. Why not? He’ll use them. I won’t. Who knows when I’ll get a class?

 

The faculty handbook. 86ed. Not part of this faculty anymore. Dad would have said, “Empty the binder. Keep the binder.” I did.

 

An open ream of paper. Handed over to students. Dad would have objected. I don’t want to store stuff from this cockroach-ridden hellhole.

 

The plan we put together for Humanitas. As much as it hurt—tossed. Humanitas is dead, A, B, and C. I transferred my Cold War transparencies from a smaller notebook into the larger one.

 

Two coffee-tins of water-soluble markers. They’ll probably dry out. Into the desk drawer I always reserve for pens. Let whoever inherits my room have those. Dad would have insisted I take them home and use them up on some sort of projects.

 

Instructional Learning Teams timecards? We didn’t get paid for a number of the days anyway when I was the coordinator for World History A-Track, and the work we did wasn’t valued by the administration: “The teams work too slow[ly].” Purged. The binder with ILT stuff I’m keeping. I may land someplace and put the contents to use. Someplace I might be valued. Hey, it can happen… maybe…

 

Of related value: a binder with LAUSD-produced model lessons concerning key primary sources, from the PD Alfie dragged us through. (I wonder if, at his charter school, he isn’t using the lessons he downloaded off my thumbdrive? I wonder if he’s giving me credit? And so it goes…). There might be a way to apply that stuff. It goes into the NorthwestCoast cabinet.

 

Referral forms. Desk. Whoever’s going to be in Room 223 in a couple of weeks is really going to need them. I don’t think uniforms and the illegally-changed schedule are going to provide that discipline. My dad would point out they will be needed at the next school. He’d be right, of course. I’ll get new ones there.

 

Cards from kids. Birthdays. Christmas. Just because. Yeah, why not keep them? It’s not like they take up any real space, anyway.

 

A Stull evaluation, actually a photocopy of one of the old ones that had to be bubbled in by hand. It’s the one Margaret Rowland did, the only “Unsat” issued at the Mont that year. On it, she writes that I do nothing innovative in the classroom, nothing unique with instruction. It lists numerous dates for conferences where she supposedly tried to correct me. It you look really closely, you will see a date was whited out. The problem was, it was whited out after I signed it. You see, that date for one of our conferences was May 20th of that year. What was really unfortunate for her was that I knew what day of the week May 20th was (a Sunday) and where I was (Forest Lawn, at my dad’s graveside, for May 20th was the anniversary of his passing). When I replied via memo (by the way, the Stull was due May 25th or it would not count), Ms. Rowland gave me a copy on which the date had been whited out after I had signed and which now read May 29th. When this impropriety was pointed out, the Stull got thrown out rather than allowing me to pursue the forgery through the grievance process. I think I’m keeping that one. Dad would have laughed.

 

A write up from Rosa Morley. This one came when Dennis Garcia and I were heading one of the five focus areas during accreditation. One question we were supposed to ask all stakeholders was “Does the administration help or hinder instructional delivery?” We wrote what we were told. Ms. Morley and Ms. Hines hauled Dennis and I into the office. “Who wrote this?” Ms. Morley asked me.

 

“I can’t seem to remember.” Picture “Heartbreak Ridge”: “No hablo Ingles.” Ms. Morley didn’y really like that answer, nor did Marcie Hines.

 

She glared at Dennis. “How’s your memory?”

 

Dennis’ face split into that slow grin of his. “About the same.” We got thrown out of the office. The write-up came later that day. That’s a keeper.

 

Here’s the prize. Not quite the Holy Grail, but it is a cup. A little bigger than a low-ball glass, thin gray (or should that be grey?) plastic. A picture of an apple with a pencil driven through it. Really? That’s a grisly image, especially as you read what is printed on in red (I guess that was supposed to be burgundy, because nobody ever uses cardinal) letters: “FREMONTHIGH SCHOOL Teacher Appreciation Week May 2003.” I guess that places it from the LaVerne Brunt era, because she was the principal between 2002 and 2004. That surprises me, because many teachers around here look back fondly at her administration, and viewed her as very supportive of her staff. I know she was very supportive of many—I wasn’t one of them, but I cannot and don’t want to take that away from her.

 

But then there’s this cup. There’s a joke from some stand-up comedian who jabbed at Hallmark, “When you don’t care enough to send the very best.” I’ll figure out what to do with it. After all, I’ve got six days to figure that out. Thanks for the help, Dad.

 
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    Chuck Olynyk is a Social Studies teacher who saw the effects of reconstitution upon John C. Fremont High in Los Angeles. These are reposting of his original blogs from the Save Fremont website.

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