28 January 2010

Is dropping out better for some kids?

Yes, I am a teacher, and yes, I am seriously posing that question. Only about four years ago, I would have NEVER thought that dropping out was the best for any student, but in the three and a half years that I have been in the general ed. classroom, my attitude has changed.

Before you begin to think I've gone completely out of my mind, let me stress that I DO believe that an education is vitally important to a person's success. However, I have had some students who just don't "fit" the high school setting, and then there are those who have more on their plates than a "normal" high school student should have.

Last year, I had a student I'll call Kane. Kane is an extremely bright young man. He is one of those students who really doesn't have to study and he can still pass IF he will put forth just a smidgen of effort. The problem is that Kane chooses not to follow the rules and he puts forth no effort what.so.ever. He is the kind of student who drives his teachers crazy because we can SEE the potential he has, and no matter how much we, the administrators, counselors, or his parents talk to him, he has no interest in sitting in a high school classroom 7 1/2 hours a day. So he would skip school, cop an attitude, or anything else he could to get himself suspended. The best thing for Kane would have been to drop out of high school, enroll into the adult ed program, and get his GED. He probably would have aced the GED the first time. He then could have enrolled into college where he could have taken the courses he was interested in. The last I knew of Kane, he had been sent to the Alternative School. Again. For about the third time. I'm not sure if he is still there, or if he has, in fact, dropped out.

This year, I have another student I'll call Sophia. Sophia is a beautiful, smart, sweet young lady, but I don't think she has a very good home life. I had Sophia when she was a freshman. Her attendance rate the first term of school was abominable, but as soon as she came back, she would ask for and make up her work. I talked to her, and I had the counselors talk to her. The next term, her attendance improved. It still wasn't great, but it was better. The next year, I made every effort I could to ask her how things were going anytime I saw her in the halls. Her junior year, she was in my English 11 class. Her attendance was about like it was the second term of her freshman year. She still made sure to make everything up in a timely manner. Even with all of her absences, she still had one of the highest grades in my class. When I got my rosters for this year, I was excited to see her name on my English 12 roster for this semester. We started the new semester on Jan. 11th. She wasn't there that day or the next or the next. I sent the senior counselor an email about her because I was afraid she had decided to drop out. He tried to contact her mom, but no one answered. The Tuesday of the second week, she showed up. I was so happy to see her! I told her that I had been afraid she had dropped out. She assured me that she wasn't going to drop out, but her grandmother had died. I told her I was so sorry and that I would work with her to get her caught up. She hasn't been back since. She works at one of the local fast food restaurants and has for quite some time. Like I said, I don't think her home life is all that great, and I think she is one of those young adults who have far too many responsibilities. So maybe for Sophia, dropping out and entering the adult ed program would be better. Like Kane, I think she could easily pass the GED. I know she probably doesn't want to work at a low-paying job for the rest of her life, but without a high school diploma or the equivalent, she doesn't have much hope of having anything better.

So, should ALL students stay in school to get a high school diploma? In the last few years, I've changed my mind about a small percentage of our students. Some of them just need to move on, and if they are capable, why shouldn't they? Of course, the Adequate Yearly Progress of a school is negatively affected because of the dropout rate, and if we don't meet our annual goals, we are put into "school improvement."

Education is so important, but does it HAVE to attained in a high school setting? Tell me your thoughts. I'm really interested in hearing them.

Have a GREAT day! Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday. :)

25 January 2010

One of "those" days

Do you ever have one of "those" days? You know the kind. As soon as your eyes open in the morning, you know it isn't going to be a good one? Well, that was my day today. The very second I woke up, I just knew. I woke up in a funk, and I've been in one all day long.

Fortunately, the day itself wasn't bad. There were no tragedies that I know of. The school day went smoothly. We didn't get any bad news of any kind. It's just a moody day for this gal. (And no, that has nothing to do with it.)

I'm not really sure why I'm in such a funk. Sure, it's Monday, and Mondays aren't my favorite day of the week (you know...having to get up and go to work and all.) But typically, my Mondays aren't quite so crummy. Maybe it is a "hangover" from trying so hard over the weekend to not get stressed out. (It was a Groundhog Day weekend.)

At least Monday is over, and Tuesday is on the way. Hopefully the rest of the week will be better. I would say that it can't get much worse, but it could.

Have a GREAT Tuesday! :)

23 January 2010

In the blink of an eye

I come from a small town...a really small town. Oakman might have a population of maybe 1000 people, so everybody knows everybody. Growing up, I hated living in a place where everyone knew everything, but as an adult, I have learned to appreciate the closeness and community that you just don't get in larger cities.

When I was about 12, we moved into our new house on Mockingbird Hill Road. Actually, the road wasn't officially named Mockingbird Hill at the time, but that's what everyone called it. My great-grandfather had always called it that, and I guess it just caught on with the other residents on "the hill" as we often call it. The community itself is typically called New Hope, but for those of us who live or lived on that one-mile old country road, it is and always will be "the hill." Sometime after I grew up and moved away, they county commission officially named the road Mockingbird Hill Road.

Mockingbird Hill is home to about 17 families, many of whom are related by blood or by marriage. And if they aren't kin, well, then, they claim kin. In the last two weeks, everyone of those 17 families has been affected by loss, either because a family member passed away or just because they are a "family" who shares nothing more than the same community.

The first loss was felt by Mrs. Stover, her daughter Virginia, and her son Ed, all of whom live on the hill. Mrs. Stover's son, Blue, and his wife, Nancy, died within about 24 hours of each other. On Thursday, another tragedy struck. Walt, who is distantly related to us and has lived on the hill his entire life, was killed in a motorcycle wreck. He was 49. He leaves behind his wife Rhonda, two sons Haley and Reilly, his parents Harold and Wanda, a sister Kathleen, a niece Madeleine, and a grandmother Dana. With the exception of Wanda and Rhonda, everyone else grew up on Mockingbird Hill. Yesterday, Shirley's father passed away. Mr. Underwood had been sick for some time, but that still never makes it any easier.

All of the deaths sadden me, but Walt's death has been the one that has stayed on my mind the most. Maybe it's because he is so close in age to me; maybe it's because I just simply cannot imagine the emptiness that Rhonda must feel; maybe it's because his death was so unexpected and sudden. In the blink of an eye, his life was taken. His wife, his sons, his parents, his sister, his friends had a huge hole ripped in their hearts.

I know that we aren't supposed to ask why, but sometimes you just can't help it. Why has one small community been hit so hard? Why have so many families been affected in such a short time? (If Pat Robertson were to respond, he'd say it's because the community is being punished by God for their corrupt behavior. I can assure you that is not the case!)

We are never promised tomorrow. We aren't even promised the next five minutes. We can only try to live our lives in a way so that we don't have to worry about what happens after.

Sorry for a depressing post, but I just had to put my thoughts down. Writing them down is a catharsis.

I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.

20 January 2010

Delayed start...again

Talk about weird weather. Winters in Alabama aren't usually too unbearably cold, but this year has been the exception. The powers that be in the school system made the decision a couple of weeks ago to start school at 10:00 because of a threat of freezing weather and icy roads. We actually dismissed a couple of hours early on that Thursday and then delayed the start on Friday. Of course, nothing happened, but at least we didn't miss an entire day so we don't have to make any time up. (Yet.)

When Mr. Reyes was making announcements this afternoon, he did the "Students and teachers, stop what you are doing and listen very carefully." Any time he says that, we know something really important is to follow. For some odd reason, when he said that he had just spoken to the central office, my first thought was that someone in the school system had passed away. Fortunately, the announcement had nothing to do with the loss of a life. Instead, he said that due to the threat of bad weather and possible hail, school would not begin until 10 AM tomorrow. This is the second delayed entry since we returned from Christmas break. Just because the weather service has predicted severe weather doesn't always mean it will happen, but when it comes to the lives of our students, I would much rather be safe than sorry. I would also have the decision makers do what they have done instead of completely cancelling school. IF that is something that needs to happen, it can still be done.

I must admit that I am thrilled to be able to sleep a little bit later in the morning, BUT I'm already a tiny bit behind. I do have a review day built in before every test, so I'll be able to get caught up. Eventually. :)

Gotta go for now. Take care, and have a GREAT day!

18 January 2010

I get excited over the smallest things :)

New furniture has gotten me all excited! About 10 or 11 years ago, we bought new furniture. It has served its purpose well over the years, but we decided that we were ready for something new. So, yesterday we decided to "look." What started out as looking ended up as purchasing.

We really started looking a couple of years ago. We'd started getting really tired of what we had. The current furniture has loose pillow backs. HATE them! I will never buy another sofa and/or loveseat with loose pillow backs. The pillow backs and throw pillows have gotten all flat, and the pups think the pillow backs are their beds.

The new furniture is leather, so I doubt Ali and Bama will be sleeping on it. They prefer to be snuggled up in something cozy and warm. Hopefully, they'll start sleeping in their beds. It will be a couple of weeks before it's delivered. I can't wait! :)

16 January 2010

Awesome weekend!


I have spent yet another Saturday holed up in the house doing laundry and school work. Ugh. I needed to update the syllabi for my classes and post them on the class website. I've gotten the English 11 syllabi for the term done, but I haven't gotten the English 12 done. Yet. I've got to work on my powerpoint for T. S. Eliot and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

And I still have laundry to do. The buzzer is buzzing as I type. How in the world can two people accumulate SO much laundry??? I swear, Ali and Bama have to drag clothes out when we're at work.

Thankfully, Monday is a day off. The crappy part of that, though, is that I have an appointment for my boob smushing. oh joy. I almost cancelled my appointment and rescheduled for spring break, but I really hope to spend spring break at the lake, cold or not.

Short and sweet and nothing exciting, but oh well. :)

Have a GREAT day tomorrow!

13 January 2010

New semester underway

Second semester has gotten off to a pretty good start. It's day three, and so far it's been very smooth. Well, in my part of the building it has been. I can't speak for the South 40. My schedule is much better than it was last semester. I'm still teaching two senior English classes and one junior English class, but senior English is 1st and 2nd block, and then I have planning, and then my junior English is 4th block. Having the break between the two subjects is so nice! Last semester I bounced from senior to junior and back to senior with planning at the end.

The thing I don't like is the class size. Both senior English classes have 31 students. (Can't complain about the junior English because I have only 16 in that class.) I have one ELL and several special needs students. We'll manage, though. We always do. One thing you cannot be in education is inflexible. Well, you can be, but you'll go crazy. In education, programs change about as frequently as people change socks. I've learned to go with the flow. Tell me when, where, and what, and I'll do it.

It's still colder than cold here, but today it warmed up to ALMOST 50. Heat wave! I was able to leave off my big puffy jacket when I left the building this afternoon. It still isn't warm enough for me, though. It won't be until the temps are in the 70s. (When I complain about the 100 degree weather and the 100% humidity this summer, remind me how miserable I've been this winter.)

Got to get busy. Since it's still early in the semester, there isn't much I need to do, but I'd rather get it done and try to get to bed earlier tonight. It's been a long week...

Have a GREAT week!

08 January 2010

Still smiling

My first thought upon waking this morning: Bama won the National Championship Game! Second thought: Ugh, it is TOO cold, and I do NOT want to get up. Fortunately, we had a two hour delay in the start of school, so I wasn't having to crawl out of bed at 5:30 after going to bed at 1:00. That would not have been good.

So...the game. Parts of the game had me on the edge of my seat screaming from frustration, while other parts had me jumping up and down screaming from excitement. When we did nothing on our first possession, I was concerned, but hey, it was the first series of the entire game--the biggest game of the entire season--so nerves had to play a part of it. They'll go to the sideline, talk, and settle down. Texas gets the ball and is moving. Suddenly, Colt McCoy takes himself out of the game. HUH?? Our big linebacker, Marcell Dareus, made a clean hit on McCoy's throwing shoulder, forcing him out of the rest of the game. I hated to see him have to come out because he seems like such a classy young man. In his post-game interview, the emotions were there, but unlike another big-name college quarterback, he didn't cry. (Sorry, I know losing the SEC game was hard for Tebow, but man up. We can win 'em all.)

The TRUE FRESHMAN backup qb came in. Can you imagine how he felt? One minute, he standing on the sidelines just soaking up the atmosphere and the next he's taking a snap in the biggest game of Texas' entire season. He definitely had the "deer in the headlights" look to begin with, but as the game progressed, he settled down and made some really good passes. Texas may have found the replacement to McCoy.

Texas ended up with two field goals to lead 6-0, but Bama rallied. In the second quarter, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson scored touchdowns, and Leigh Tiffin added a field goal. With only 15 seconds left in the half, Gilbert tossed out a shovel/shuttle/shuttle pass and Marcell Dareus (yep, the same guy who took McCoy out of the game) intercepted it and ran it in for a TD. Anytime a big defensive lineman intercepts a ball or recovers a fumble and runs it, John will say "I love to see a big man run." Now, don't go thinking there is something about John that you don't know. It's just fun to watch those big ole guys lumber down the field. If they have a long way to go, they generally won't make it before they run out of gas or they are caught by a faster offensive player. (Not that the player is offensive. LOL)

The third quarter was ALL TEXAS. I was going NUTS because Bama wasn't doing anything on the offensive side of the ball. (Their play truly was offensive.) Texas scored in both the third and the fourth quarters to bring the game to within three points. A field goal would tie; a TD would win. The next to last time Texas got the ball, I sent Susan a text and said that if they scored, that would probably be the game. I was still hopeful, but I also knew that a couple of really good plays could bring the hopes of the Bama Nation to an end. However, our D made some awesome plays.

First of all, Eryk Anders blitzed and sacked Gilbert, causing him to fumble. (I had just commented that Bama DESPERATELY needed to force a turnover.) Courtney Upshaw recovered the fumble, and Mark Ingram, behind Mount Cody, ended up taking the ball in. Score: 31-21. On Texas' next possession, I again said that we needed another turnover. There were still about two minutes on the clock, and with good clock management and good play calling, Texas could win. All it would take would be a quick score and an onside kick with another quick score to follow. Javy read Gilbert and ended up intercepting him again. Trent ended up taking the ball in for our final score.

After Trent scored, Saban was doused with a nice, cold Gatorade bath. He looked none too happy, but it looked like he got whacked in the head with the cooler, and I'm sure the Gatorade was iced. His nice, white shirt will never be white again. It ended up being a really pretty shade of pink. We said it needs to end up in the Bryant Museum. After all, Coach Saban is the only Division I (or whatever it is called now) to win a BCS Championship at two different schools.

After the trophy presentation, Kristen and I jumped in the car and drove to Academy Sports and Hibbett Sports in Auburn. Yep, we bought our National Championship shirts in AUBURN. And it felt great. By the time we got back to the house, it was almost 1:00.

All day long, I had the biggest smile on my face. Very few of the Bama haters had much to say. I mean, what COULD they say? Bama was undefeated and had just been crowned national champs. Coach Saban brought the program from dismal to glorious in three short years. It had actually been three years and four days since he was announced as the new head coach. (And for the win, he will receive a $400,000 bonus. He would have gotten a mere $200,000 had we lost.)

Sadly (for me), football is over until September. National Signing Day will be coming up in about three weeks. So far, our recruiting class is looking pretty good. The staff has put together #1 recruiting classes the last couple of years. Will they do it again? Maybe; maybe not. But I know it will be in the top 10, at least. Shortly after that, spring practice will begin. Who will be the players to step up? Who will vie for the starting positions? Who will fill the shoes of our never-to-be-forgotten seniors? Then, A-Day. The first year Coach Saban was at Bama, over 92,000 people showed up for the A-Day game. He was amazed by that. The crowds at the last two spring games were smaller, but the crowds were still huge. I'm gonna bet that this year's game will see another huge crowd. The the long summer months will follow before fall practice begins in August.

Will the 2010 team be as successful as the 2009 team? That remains to be seen, but I think it's possible. I'm a true fan. I will always start each season believing that it will be a magical season.


07 January 2010

13th National Championship!

'Nuff said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!

That's one of those sayings I've heard all my life, but I've never really used it. Until now. I guess the only other time that it would have really been accurate was on my wedding day.

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I am an avid (almost rabid) Alabama fan. If you just LOOKED at my blog page and know anything about Alabama's history, you were probably able to figure out that I'm a Bama fan. I try really hard not to be one of those in-your-face obnoxious fans. (I prefer a subtle obnoxiousness.) When Bama wins, I don't brag and rub it in the faces of friends who are fans of the team we beat. (I just wear something crimson and/or houndstooth.) Generally, I won't say anything unless someone else mentions it first. Sure, there are teams that I don't like (Auburn, Tennessee), and I really love to see them lose, but most people who are dyed-in-the-wool fans are that way.

We live about 20 miles from Auburn, so the majority of the people around are Auburn fans. One of my co-workers/friends came up to me today with her Auburn sweatshirt on. Just so happens that her shirt was burnt orange...Texas burnt orange. She told me that she didn't care. She could not and would not pull for Bama, National Championship game or not. Her entire family are dyed-in-the-wool, and they'll love it if Bama loses tonight. One of her daughters refuses to buy anything that is houndstooth. (I understand because I refuse to buy orange. If I do, it in NO WAY is even close to Auburn, Tennessee, or Florida orange.) That's just the way it is.

So, tonight is THE game. The game that Bama fans have hungered for. It has been 17 years since our last national champions title, and I desperately hope we can add one more tonight. Do I believe Bama will win? Sure do. That's another thing about a true fan. A true fan will believe that his or her team will win every game, every year. There were several long, lean years for Bama, but I always believed that we would find a way to pull it out when we were behind, unless, of course, the score was 42-3 going into the 4th quarter. During those years, I never failed to show my support. I continued to wear my crimson with pride. And if by some chance Bama loses tonight, I will still wear my Bama shirt tomorrow.

My thoughts about the game: I think Bama's D will dominate. I think they will be in Colt McCoy's face all. night. long. I think G-Mac will be spot on. I think Javy is going to set the NCAA record for punt return yards. I think Julio will have his break out game. I think Ro is going to show the pro scouts that he is worthy of a first-round draft pick (although I will really hate to see him go.) I think Mark will show that he is deserving of the Heisman trophy. And I really want to see Mount Cody have him a nice little McCoy sandwich. :) I think Bama will win.

Still about three and a half hours until kickoff. The last 32 days have flown by, and now that it's game day, the hours are dragging. This is worse than waiting on Christmas day when I was a kid. :) Maybe if I go get busy, it will help.

Hope you have a GREAT night, and

ROLL TIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

04 January 2010


I am NOT a fan of extremely cold weather. When I left for work this morning, it was 21 degrees. When I finally headed home, it was 28 degrees. My toes have not been warm since I crawled out of bed.

John's uncle lives in Alaska. When we were at Billie's over Thanksgiving, JD called. He said they were having a heat wave...it was up to 0. Uh...no thanks. Twenty degree weather is bad enough. I don't know how people live in the northern states and deal with this ALL WINTER LONG. God made this gal to live in warm climates. I keep reminding myself that spring is just a few weeks away.

The meteorologists are predicting a "snow event" for Thursday and/or Friday. I'm hoping for a Friday snow day since we'll be LATE getting home from watching the game Thursday night. It might not be too bad to get "stuck" in Birmingham.

Have a GREAT Tuesday, and send warm weather if you have it. :)

03 January 2010

2010 is pretty good so far

John and I welcomed in 2010 the way any wild and crazy party-loving couple does. We went to bed and were asleep before midnight. LOL I did wake up right at midnight because somebody somewhere nearby was shooting fireworks and/or a gun, and it frightened Bama. He doesn't like loud noises, so being the good puppy momma that I am, I rolled over and grumpily said, "Bama, GO NIGHT-NIGHT." Poor pup, he did. If I would have let him in bed with us, Ali would have been right behind him, and a double bed just isn't quite big enough for four, even if two of them only weigh a total of 21 pounds.

We got up around 6 Friday morning, did a few things around the house, and then headed north. We went to Ron & Cindy's Friday and stayed with them Friday night. We had a yummy New Year's day dinner, complete with black-eyed peas, turnip greens, and fat back. Neither John nor I had any of those things last year, and while 2009 wasn't a horrible year, we certainly had our share of colds and crud, and the money didn't come rolling in. Maybe with the traditional meal, we'll be better off in the health, wealth, and luck department for 2010. Hey, I CAN hope. :)

We rode out to the lake Saturday morning to check the walkway/swim deck. It was COLD and WINDY! The thermometer said the temp was around 27, and I believe it. The pups didn't even want to be out in it. Of course, the trailer was freezing cold, too. We did what we had to do and left.

John's pee wee football coach turned 80 and his family was having a birthday party for him, which is the reason we went north in the first place. So, after leaving the lake, we headed to Hartselle. Since there was going to be about three hours between the time we got to Hartselle and the time we went to the party, we went by his mom's house. I have GOT to do a LOT of praying for patience this year. That has become quite clear to me over the last couple of visits. (One reason I went into secondary ed is because I knew I in no way had enough patience to be around little kids all day, every day of the week. Dealing with someone with Alzheimer's isn't much different from dealing with munchkins.) In the two hours or so that we were there, we talked about 1) the dust particles floating in the air and where they come from and that it didn't matter if you cleaned non-stop each and every day, the furniture is STILL going to get dust on it within a matter of minutes, 2) the fact that I had too much to do at home for us to be able to spend the night and taking my laundry to Hartselle to do was impractical, 3) how lonely she gets because she never sees anybody, even though Linda from across the street is there every day and either Josh or Kimmie are there every night Sunday through Thursday and one of the four of the kids is there every weekend, and 4) Zac did not have to go home until Wednesday because he doesn't have to start back to school until Thursday and yes that is an odd time to start back to school. For two hours...those same four topics of conversation. So yeah, lots and lots and lots of prayer. I try really hard to remember that the person Billie is now is not the person she was even two years ago, but Mom will tell you that patience has never been a virtue of mine.

We got home about 9 last night, and I went ahead and got started on laundry. Getting started is all I did though. In no time, I was sound asleep on the couch.

I was supposed to meet Anita, Brian, Cindy, and Donna in Birmingham today for lunch, but with us going to Hartselle, I knew I wouldn't be able to make it. Originally, we were going to stay at the lake for the weekend, but with it being so cold, we changed those plans. And it really is a good thing. I've gotten quite a bit done today. Of course, I would MUCH RATHER being having a delicious lunch with my friends right now. :(

Tomorrow is the first day back after Christmas break. We have professional development and then the kids come back Tuesday. For the high school, that is REALLY stupid. In order for us to have our fall break in October, we weren't able to end first semester until the week after Christmas. OK...I can live with that, BUT for us at the high school, it would have made MUCH more sense to have the kids come Monday-Thursday, and then have the PD on Friday. Why does that make a difference? Well, let me tell ya 'cause I know you're dying to know! And even if you don't want to know, I'm gonna tell you anyway 'cause this is my blog and I can do whatever I want. hahaha At the high school, we're on a full-block schedule which means the students take four classes each semester. One semester of a class is the equivalent to an entire year. They will begin their second semester on the 11th. That means we, as teachers, have to prepare for that day just like it is the first day of the new school year because we have an entirely new group of students. It would be nice to have Friday to prepare for the new classes that start on Monday. It really wouldn't matter, though, because our PDs are always spent in meetings anyway, so we have no free time to get ready. I've already told John that I'll probably be late most every afternoon.

This is the BIG WEEK for football. The National Championship Game is Thursday night. John, Kristen, and I are going to Baumhower's Wings at Lee Branch to watch the game with Susan and Tim and some of the Spain Park faculty. I can't wait! I really think this will be a great game, but I am nervous. I'm not nervous because I'm afraid Bama can't win. I'm nervous because I know that EITHER team can win. This isn't one of those bowl games with an odd match up when you expect one team to dominate the other (although Auburn tried their best to let Northwestern win the Outback Bowl.) Both Alabama and Texas are powerhouse teams, and both want to win. It will be a matter, I think, of who has the ball last.

I guess that's about it. I've taken my break, and now I need to get busy again. Have a GREAT week!

I love my Crimson Tide!

I really, REALLY mean this...

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