Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weenie Bandit

There is a weenie bandit alive and kicking in Kings Mountain.  We have experienced this bandit here at our house. [I promise I am telling the truth.] 

Back in May, Short and I had the entire family over for Mother's Day.  [When I say entire family then I mean aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  You know how rednecks are about Momma.]  Before everyone came over we worked like dogs to clean up our yard. We bought and put out about 10 scoops of mulch. [This was one of the days where  we were especially thankful that Coop is a manchild.  We expected big things from him - he delivered.  We feed him...A LOT so he owed us.]  

As we were moving mulch near the side of the house, we saw it.  

A weenie. A cooked hotdog sitting precariously on our AC unit.  

Craig saw it first...."Why is there a hotdog on our AC?" My answer? [Sarcasm inserted.]  "Hmmmm...well Craig, we were going to have hotdogs for dinner but then I decided to leave them on the AC."  Why in the heck would I know why a wayward, ant-covered Ball Park frank would be laying on our air conditioner? 

Yesterday, the bandit struck again.  

Molly, Emma, and I were leaving the house [at an obscene hour on a Saturday morning after a really late Friday night] to head to SC for a little fastpitch softball when we saw it.

The weenie was mocking us, sitting by our mailbox [which, incidentally, is still being help up by duct tape after some ding dong decided to plow it over a few weeks ago...we choose not to hide our brand of redneck] as we pulled out of the driveway.  This one did not appear to be the mild Ball Park we happened upon back in May.  

This one was red. A red hot dog, sitting at the end of my driveway.  

I am not sure if someone is trying to drop us a hint [or perhaps a snack] but what are the chances that a person finds not one but two cooked weenies outside of their home unless they are having a cookout? 

Our grill doesn't even work.  

We had BBQ at our last cookout.  

I mean, back in my day [that is a classic old person line], we used toilet paper in people's yards but I don't ever remember going to "weenie" a yard. [I do remember some weenies that deserved to have their yards rolled but that is whole 'nother post.]  I guess times have changed. [Or perhaps there are weird folks that think dropping hotdogs in my yard is cool.  You never know these days.  I teach 8th grade.  I know weirdos.]  

As always, life as a Short [even after being hit by the elusive Weenie Bandit] is awesome.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I am Just a Teacher

***DISCLAIMER:  I spelled choose wrong - twice.  I teach science - not English.***
I didn't go to college to become a teacher.  I went to college to study biology. [As it turns out, upon graduation, I had taken just a little bit of everything....literally.....that UNCC had to offer.  I was indecisive.  Sue me.]  I wanted to work in a lab at Duke Power [where I interned for five years] and do these ultra cool things I was learning about in the summer.

Then reality struck. Duke Power wasn't really looking to hire biologists - they had some already.  I wasn't too sure what I would do with just a biology degree.  I could teach, go on to medical school [except I HATE blood], go on to dental school [other people's teeth gross me out], do something else. Now let's clear up any confusion...medical school and dental school were NEVER on my radar...I ain't quite smart enough for either one of those. [My lucrative childhood career of being a truck driver by day and a detective at night seemed like a good choice when asked the question, "What are you studying in college?"]  Honestly, by the time I got through organic chemistry [Holy Guacamole!] I didn't think that a biology degree was in the cards for me either.

Allow me to digress for a moment....I graduated 21 out of my high school class so I wasn't stupid. I did decent on the SAT, placed into science and engineering calculus as a college freshman, and basically felt like I could do ANYTHING.

I failed to mention one minor detail....high school did NOT prepare me for studying. [I did have one teacher, Mrs. Kirby, who taught us the value of studying.  Kudos to her.  Still one of my faves.]  I was not good at studying.  At all.  I was good at pretending but you can't "pretend" to study in college.  You actually have to be good at it....I was not. [Give you a true story....I took the science and engineering calculus.  I was lost from DAY ONE.  On the final exam, worth only 100 points, to make a  D- in the class I had to earn 150 points on a 100 point test. #SuckedAtStudying]  There I was, a college failure. Before college I could count on 1 finger the Cs I'd made as a high school student [10th grade English...I still hate English and sentence diagramming and vocabulary tests] and now I was looking at an F.

As an elective class, to take a small break from all the chemistry and biology, I took an introduction to education class taught by Dr. William Britt.  The man was amazing.  He never cracked a note, never opened a book, but he taught me so much about teaching.  He made me think back to Jane Morton, the world's greatest teacher.  She made me love the night sky and the stars and the planets.  Dr. Britt's class made me think back to that 3rd grade classroom.

I wanted to teach.  [Which also meant that I would have to change my major.  And basically, start over. That was NOT a good conversation with the parentals over the phone.  At all.]  I remember my dad driving to UNCC [with a Sundrop as a peace offering] to try to talk me out of changing my major. I remember his words so clearly, "You know teachers don't make any money."  I knew.  But that didn't make me change my mind.

I didn't choose my road. I wouldn't recognize until years later that my decision to teach was not my own but a push from God. I truly, truly believe that I was called to teach.  That decision, all those years ago, would be such a blessing for many years [and still is] to come.

I married a teacher. [I convinced Craig to take Dr. Britt's class and pursue teaching after he changed his major to history.]  We did everything backwards...had a baby, got married, graduated from college. Craig started his career at Cherryville High School while I finished up at UNCC.  I began teaching just a year after he began teaching.

Both of us have taught in several schools and school systems.  Craig was fortunate enough [though I am not sure how our young marriage survived] to get the opportunity to coach with one of his own high school mentors.  He found his passion [and discovered, during a heated football game, that getting ejected from a JV game then launching water bottles about 50 yards to the end zone on your way out of the stadium is not a good idea] with coaching.  My Molly, looking at going to college in another year, learned to walk on a football field and called her daddy "Coach" has grown up being a coach's kid. We loved [and still do] football Friday night [to quote the movie Radio, "I love Friday night's when you're lookin' for a win...and Saturday mornings when you found one."] but more than that, somewhere along the journey, we fell in love with teaching.  Both of us have our Master's degrees, we share ideas in the classroom, we help each other out, we vent over frustrations, and we lift the other one up in prayers about classroom situations, students, and colleagues. We are happy teaching.  

If I had to go back and do it again, I wouldn't do anything different [well, except not get fat and never cut my hair on a whim] and I would still teach.  

The older I get, the more I am learning about people's motivations and attitudes.  In recent months, I've also learned that public education, at least here in NC, and educators are given very little respect for what we do in classrooms. [This isn't another sermon about salaries so hold still.]  Recent things I've heard or read:
"You've got it made. You're government employees with a pension and healthcare."
"Parents just want what is best for their kids and it appears that with so many options for other schools that public school just isn't doing its job."
"Sure you went into your job for the money. Everyone wants to get paid." 
"You can retire at 30 years."
"You only work 10 months."
"Want something to change? Vote out those people that are making the laws against public schools."

And its actually comical that all of these things were said by people who are not teachers, do not work in a school or school system, and really have no idea [besides the media] about the job of educating the masses.  I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I've had people tell me that my job is easy.  I wasn't aware that so many folks performed my job duties at their job. Amazing.  It is truly amazing all the "educators" we have in the world that seem to think that my 4 year degree plus another 3 year MEd. plus my National Boards doesn't really qualify me to actually know anything about the current lack of support for our public school system.  I mean, I guess, since I am a teacher that I just don't know about the state of my own profession.  

I am not asking anyone to agree with me.  But explain to me why it is OK for people to be very vocal about their plights and situations in other careers beyond education but when an educator attempts to plead our case or bring to light true inequities then we are treated like idiots? I am truly perplexed that so many know so much about what goes on in education yet you've never, EVER stepped foot in a classroom.  Oh, that's right, because we aren't working in the private sector we have it made as government employees.  I forgot that we were supposed to play that whole My-Job-Trumps-Your-Job-When-It-Comes-To-Real-World-Issues Game with the "other" people who aren't workin' for the government. 

I feel inferior. [I am not fishing for your compliments.] I always felt like teaching was a calling for me and not a job.  But now, honestly, I feel like the degrees and the time spent [much of it on my own dime and time] are worthless because I am not in some fantastically awesome private sector, money making job.  I am just a teacher.  I can't possibly understand politics. I am just a teacher.  I can't truly expect to make as much as people in private sector jobs with degrees and training less than or equal to my level of education. I am just a teacher. I can't possibly know anything worthwhile about how children learn the best or the latest trends in increasing classroom performance. I am just a teacher.  I am judged by test scores no matter what happens in my classroom. I am just a teacher.

I didn't choose my road.  

I have two choices here:  I can continue to let this eat away at me or I can rise above.  I can prove "them" wrong.  The choice is mine.  

Colossians 3:23 reminds me for whom I am working and it is not for the praises of men.  

I am just a teacher.