Day 144  Monday, February 8, 2010: “Haven’t We Lost Enough?”


This was meant for Monday, February 8, 2010 and Day 144, but due to a meeting and yesterday’s rally in the rain, it’s going up now, as a stand-alone, because I think it give most of us our perspectives on our own Small Learning Communities.


The following was sent to me February 4. I asked Margherita Moraca, known as “Humanimama” by many of Humanitas students, if I could re-post it (Now I sound like a Seinfeld episode—“He re-posted?” “He–reposted!” “Oh my God, he’s a re-poster!”). Rita is one of those rare birds (and now endangered species at Fremont) who remembers days predating our SLCs and predating the Concept 6 reconfiguration of Fremont:


I have been sick for the major part of January and am still not top notch yet.  However, after I started to feel a little better, I read all of the emails that came to me and I can't say they did much for my well-being or helped my recuperation.  I didn't have the energy to reply to any of them-not that I didn't feel the urge to do so. Then, as I was washing up one morning, this song popped into my head..."The Impossible Dream" from the "Man of La Mancha," the musical about Don Quixote.  I thought "this has been the theme for my entire career at Fremont!"

"To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe, to bear with unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave do not go. To right the unrightable wrong, to be better far than you are, to try with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable star...This is my quest, to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far. To fight for the right without question or be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause.  And I know if I'll only be true to this glorious quest, that my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I'm laid to my rest. And the world will be better for this, that one (man or woman) scorned and covered with scars still fought with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable star!"

Forgive the drama, but this is how I really feel.  I have been at
longer than some of the newer teachers have even been alive.  When I started there I was a child...right out of college.  I didn't have much, if any, experience, but what I did have was PASSION for teaching.

I came into the situation having quite high expectations of my students because the titles of the classes I had been  assigned sounded awesome.  Then, my students arrived and I got a dose of reality!  None of my students had had any art classes before, much less the pre-requisites for the "advanced" classes I was supposedly teaching. That's when you know if you're cut out for this kind of work.  You "adjust" your curriculum and start playing "catch up" so your students have some idea what the class is all about.  Sometimes you're successful.  Sometimes you're not.  I'd say, for the most part, I had been relatively successful. 

Then, I was confronted with HUMANITAS.  When I finally decided to become involved in that, I was in "Heaven" because I experienced the kind of educational situation I, as a new teacher, had expected when I first started teaching. We had Teacher interaction, collaboration, planning, colleagiality and support. I believe we felt that we were more respected as Professionals and that made us push harder to become more involved.  As a result, we all experienced the greatest Student success that had ever been imagined before that. That's when we had been allowed to do things OUR WAY.  Over three graduation classes, we had a 99% graduation rate.  People assume that we got the "better" kids. WE DID NOT! We got the same kids as everybody else.  We just worked together for a common cause, and we beat the system!  We changed it to address the needs of OUR students.  We worked together and the students appreciated our efforts and did their best to live up to our expectations of them. They did!



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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.


    August 2010



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