Wednesday, June 9, 2010

School's Out

This is the time of year when young people get to stay home and work on the farm to bring the crops in during harvest season. That was the reason why school's close during the summer months the whole world over. The fact that students don't stay down on the farm anymore hasn't changed the school year's extended summer vacation. Teachers like the schedule and I know they are nicely stressed by the time the year is coming to a close.My wife was going around pointing out that all six of her students sitting for graduation passed. "100% of your students graduated," and experienced administrator pointed out to her. She teaches in the Keys Center, a school that teaches troubled youth that want to change and do better. They select their students and work with them all year long (ten months) to instill proper learning techniques. Summer is a time to relax for teachers as well as students.Monroe County Schools have been struggling to cut a 90 million dollar budget by ten percent and Keys Center has survived the cuts which means students that may fall between the cracks won't for at least one more year. I am filled with admiration for the schools in the Keys which offer traditional close relationships between teachers and students, and offer tons of activities and cultural activities that are dropping by the wayside on the mainland. The band is a going concern, physical fitness is taught and I find most students to be polite and well mannered in an old fashioned way when I meet them around town. The best of Island Living. So now that the school year is over my wife gathered the staff together at Nan's waterfront home on Sugarloaf Key and they had a blow out. I showed up at my wife's insistence though I was shy about butting in and eating their food but I need not have worried- there was plenty of food and drink for all.Michael made some extraordinary black bean quesadillas with mole sauce. He also introduced me to the concept of filling a watermelon with vodka. There was some discussion about young people on Youtube pouring vodka into their eyes. Among we, the middle aged, there were not takers to try out this novel way of absorbing alcohol. After swimming kayaking and sunbathing the afternoon agenda turned to charades.The idea was to write all the students names on a piece of paper and draw them at random and then act out the students' foibles. Nan, the office manager had seen it all. Cathy and Heather laughed at the quirks but when it came to be her turn to perform Cathy stood up, thoughtful and muttered: " This is work!" Heather, the school counselor countered; "This is release!"The names went round a couple of times and even for an outside observer like me the student types are kids we recognize, that we grew up with and that live in our memories.
Some of us were not impressed. "Miss Goldman! I can't do this!""This is too hard!!" It amazes me how teachers manage to balance their work, their students, the parents, and the bureaucracy of teaching and still they end the year with a sense of fondness for their charges and a sense of satisfaction for a job well done for the year. Other people go fishing to release their stress.
The charades were not limited to students, the teachers took on each other......to everyone's amusement.
And none of this stirred Cheyenne.
They give lip service to teachers while they want to tear down their unions, their pensions, their inadequate salaries. Put Goldman Sachs in charge of schools I say., teach the kids how to cheat and lie and steal from an early age. Much more effective. Besides the bonuses would be gigantic!