Friday, May 17, 2019

Goodbye Greece


One of the benefits of retirement is a May vacation on a 15 cabin cruise to Greece in May, way before most tourists arrive.

These pics are through the window as we enjoyed our last breakfast on board.

Another great experience from Road Scholars.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Museum of the Moving Image

The Museum of the Moving Image is a fascinating museum in Astoria, easily reached by public transportation and there is plenty of street parking.  There are temporary exhibits which are wonderful but my favorite is the permanent Jim Henson exhibit.  (I am a huge Muppet fan.) 

Bring your teacher ID-teachers get in for FREE!!!!

happiness


Happiness is meeting a former student on the subway and finding out she is going for a masters in health studies.  It is such a great feeling to see them doing so well.  What even made my day more was when she told me about her job, tutoring mathematics.  She told me she told her students what I used to say in class--no one is stupid, just go slow, analyze and you will succeed.  She said she built their confidence the way I instilled confidence in them.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Pollock's Fractals

I saw an exhibit recently of some very abstract art, including the art of Jackson Pollock and commented to a friend that, no matter how hard I try, I cannot understand his work.  She told me she had read an article about Pollack's use of fractals in his work.

If only we had time to teach this in math classes, this and all the other uses of math in things our students would be interested in.  If only we had an opportunity to make math relevant instead of just teaching to the test.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Applauding Statistics

I know I haven't posted much lately, but this headline really got me.  The City's graduation rate has climbed but, what does this really mean?  Even the article states that standards have been lowered.  Students are no longer required to take social studies regents as they can opt to take exams in alternate subjects.

Let's face it.  The students graduating today, the ones in this percent increase are, for the most part, not college ready and not ready for careers either.  Their high school career has taught them that they can get away with no work for three years and showing up for a few credit recovery courses in their last year get them through.  They haven't been taught the value of hard work and have no feelings of failing and trying again, only harder.  These students come into college expecting grades to be handed to them again.  Studying and homework doesn't happen. Buying books or using them in a library is a foreign experience they are not prepared to have.  But, when final grades approach, they expect extra credit and chances to make up what they haven't done all semester.  And, while I have no experience with this, I am willing to bet the same thing happens at the job.

I am tired of reading statistics about graduation rates.  I want to see education and standards improving.  I want to see graduates ready for the next stage of their lives.  Only when this happens can graduation rate improvements mean anything.  We have to stop applauding statistics.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Friends

I worked with some amazing people over the years and unfortunately, in a school as big as Packemin I got to know a small group of them.  I can't blame the size entirely.  I was never totally happy there and preferred being by myself quite a bit of the time.

Now comes retirement.  A small group started going out for monthly lunches. The group of 5 has extended to a group of over 20, or at least that is how many are on the mailing list.  We all don't make every lunch and many have dropped out and are members in name only but the core group keeps coming back every month with a few more additions every couple of months.

The core group, many who barely knew each other before, have connected in a strong way.  We never talk about Packemin.  It is a thing in the distant past for all of us.  I can't even tell you what we talk about but the two hours or so goes quickly and it is an event we all look forward to every month.  We come away with a warm, tingly feeling inside, brought together by an environment that was not always so nice. As we walked out, many made plans to meet sooner than next luncheon for more individual time together.

I would like to give a special shout out here to Ben's Bay Terrace.  They give us plenty of space and time and treat us well.  Today we were given plates of their special latkas while we waited for lunch to be served.   

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Living Wage



Texans school’s have registered nurses on staff.  When one is out, a substitute is called.  The sub is paid $15 an hour.  The subs are upset now that Amazon workers will be making the same salary as they do.  They were also upset when the minimum wage of fast food workers came close to theirs.

Instead of being angry others will be approaching a living wage they should be upset that with all their education and responsibility, they are not being paid one. This is one of the problems today.  People have to stop resenting fortune of others and look for positive outcomes for everyone,  the common good is what we need to strive to achieve.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Monthly Lunch


Our retired teacher group skipped a meeting in August so when we got together today we had lots to talk about and catch up on.  The most common thread of conversation was how much we missed not meeting in August and how we all look forward to our monthly get togethers.

The one thing we all have in common is that we are all retired women from Packemin H.S.  Packemin is large and many of us did not know each other or had barely said more than hello to one another in all the years we worked at the same address.  Our group includes former teachers, secretaries, school aides, lab assistants, and cafeteria workers.  In retirement our former jobs don't matter.

We started this group several years ago and have gone to many different places but we recently found our "home."  Ben's in Bay Terrace not only has good food and good service but lets us use a private room in the rear of the restaurant where we take advantage of lunch menu, and have the space to walk around, talk to everyone and stay as long as we want.

Any  female retiree's from Packemin are welcome to join us.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

More Than A Test Score


I met the woman pictured above while waiting for the Aquarium to open.  She was holding tight to a little boy, talking to him, questioning him, keeping him engaged and happy.  She seemed like an extraordinary mom to me until we started talking.  She was not his mom, she was his teacher.  She chose to spend the day with him in the aquarium, exposing him to something his parents possibly could not afford to  take him.  She promised him he did not have to go anywhere he wasn't comfortable and she wold not leave his side.  She emphasized how special he was and how she chose to spend the day only with him.

I don't know anything about this teacher's statistics or what her supervisors think of her but I know the day she was spending with this child would stay with him his entire life.   She taught and gave him more than anything she ever learned in an education class. She is a precious gift to the children she teaches.

There are so many teachers like this one out there, men and women who daily do more than teach to the test and deserve recognition.  I don't know her name or where she teaches and she probably will never read this but that doesn't matter.  She represents all that is good with the profession I loved.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Retired Teachers Who Lunch


You might be wondering why I have a photo of potato latkes and apple sauce and especially a picture that is not exceptionally good, but for once there is a relationship between my photo and this post.

Several years ago, several retired teachers from Packemin started meeting for lunch once a month.  The group started at 5 and grew to as many as 20.  We all don't make lunch every month but it doesn't matter.  We are informal and we are fun.  We never discuss school, we talk about vacations, shows, museums and everything else of interest to all.  We are together to enjoy life and to support one another when things don't go well.

Our group is all female.  We were teachers, paras, school aides, secretaries, cafeteria workers and even a former principal has joined us at times.  The only requirement to join our group is that you are female and worked at Packemin.  School is a phony world.  People we were friends with while working are not necessarily the people we choose to be with now and people we barely knew while working have become close friends.

I loved my teaching career and now I love my retirement life.  I am grateful for many of the things I got out of teaching and especially the friendships I have made after that part of my life has gone.

And now for the picture.  Every month we go to Ben's Deli in Bay Terrace.  The manager really likes our group and lets us use a back room for a "private" lunch even if only 8 of us show up.  Today he sent over this plate of latkes to feed us while we socialized and waited for our lunch. A special shout out now to Francesca, our favorite server and managers David and Hal.  We love you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Common Core



I have been away from school for quite a while and not at all familiar with the common core regents so when I was asked to help a friend’s son prepare I hesitated but agreed to tutor with the understanding that my skills were rusty and I might not be able to do all the questions.

Noah arrived for tutoring with a series of questions, some of which made no sense.  We managed to find the regents the examples came from.  Some were copied wrong and some were just indecipherable.  I know I am pretty good at math and should have no problem with a high school topic but some were just impossible.

The worst part of these regents exam was the imbalance of questions.  Most regents would have 5 questions on one topic and one to none on others and there seemed to be no consistently from year to year.  Even a hard working student would have trouble preparing for this exam.

I teach in the local community college and every year I see students coming to class with weaker skills than the year before.  Seeing this test helps explain.  There is no emphasis on skills and almost no teaching of the things they need to know to succeed in college mathematics.

Common core is destroying future math students.  It has destroyed Math education.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

End Cuba Embargo

This is the face of a 27 year old Cuban.  He is bright, articulate in Spanish and English and an expert when it comes to computers.  He has a degree in computer technology.  This is the face of a man who loves his country and is not in any way oppressed or denied freedom.  This is the face of a man who would like to leave his country.

This young professional is stuck.  He is educated but cannot get a good paying job.  He cannot get married and have children because the little money he manages to earn just barely takes care of his own needs.  He would love his own apartment but he is forced to live with his mom and sister as there is no place for him to go.

This is the face of a young man who would like to leave Cuba and go anywhere, not because of the government or because he is denied freedom.  He wants to go where he can get a well paying, decent job and use his education.  He has so much to give and lives in a place that does not have resources to accept.

Cuba is a nation filled with young people like this man.  Nations will not trade with Cuba because they fear the US.  Doctors, nurses and other professionals in Cuba earn barely enough to survive.  Cuba trades doctors and nurses with China and Venezuela for oil and other resources.  We need to end the embargo and let people like this young man obtain decent jobs in their own country or any country they want and any country that will appreciate them.  

Monday, April 16, 2018

Heartbroken



She was brilliant in high school.  I admired her so much.  She traveled to our not so great school in the Bronx from Manhattan because of our honor program and became one of the first females to attend the then, all male Yale.  She held top jobs in the world of finance and had a masters from Harvard.  Her last few years were spent taking photographs, mostly of dance and music.  She was a brilliant, self taught photographer.  Check out her work here.  She introduced me to so much.  I was blessed she let me re-enter her life.  Goodbye Darial.. RIP.  I will never take another photograph, sit at a concert or a dance and not think of you sitting next to me.  You left us way too soon.

Monday, March 05, 2018

This Is Great

I was thrilled to get this as an e-mail today.  Love ❤️ my library.  I think the library should invite Pence!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Teachers and The Gun

When I was still working, my five classes were usually in three different rooms, including several in the trailer.  I usually carried two book bags, my coat and a Delaney book because my overcrowded school had no where to store anything and I never knew what I would need.  Imagine me carrying a gun too?  No way!

Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Gardener



I met Linus on a recent trip to Saint Lucia.  He works in the landscape department but is more than a strong back with a green thumb.

Linus was the guide on our early morning nature walk.  He enthusiastically talked about all the flowers and his love of beautiful colors.  His faced glowed as he discussed the miracle of watching something he planted come to life.

I asked Linus how he got interested in what he was doing.  He explained that he grew up on a farm.  His mom had died when he was young and he and his siblings were being raised by a grandmother.  He often missed 2 to 3 days of school a week to work on the farm and left school completely at an early age to send his sister to the university.  (She is currently a teacher.)  Linus then showed us a tattered notebook he carries around, where he writes down everything new and explained all he knew was learned on the job and, while he knew a lot, he still had a lot to learn.  He even wrote down things he did not know from the conversation he had with a man on our tour.

The management of Sandal's recognized Linus' talent and sent him to Sandal's University to learn the skills he needs to become a supervisor.  He was due to start his new job the week after we left.

Linus, without book education is a brilliant young man.  Just shows, book learning is not for all but still, I wonder how far this man could have gone if he hadn't been forced to leave school.  I wonder if he would have found his gift if he had been forced to sit in a classroom with books full of things he had no interest in.

Thank Teachers


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

She Restored My Faith



A conversation with a fairly young teacher restored my faith in some of those still in the education field.  This woman, a mother of two young children spoke to me from her heart about how she connected to her students as she corrected their long, often illiterate essays.  The marking, though long and laborious was part of the job she said, not with anger or resentment but with pride.  Her eyes told how much she cared about helping these children and how much she wanted them to improve and succeed.

Here was clearly a woman teaching out of love for the students in her care.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ms. It



Yasmin always talked about how awful she felt growing up as she was the girl who was never invited to parties or to the mall or to even sit with others at lunch.  As Yasmin aged, her popularity grew.  I remember sitting with her as she proudly proclaimed her status of now being "the it girl", the one everyone wanted to be with.

Yasmin was thrilled with her new popularity and loved having people wanting to be with her but Yasmin forgot what it was like to be left sitting on the side lines, of being left out and soon began doing to others the exact thing that hurt her the most.

If I live to be 150 I will never understand people like Yasmin and how she can happily hurt others.  I too was the one always left out.  And, while I no longer want anything to do with the "Its" of this world I will never forget the hurt and will never do to others what was so painful when done to me.  One day things might change and Yasmin will lose her "It" status.  I don't wish her harm but I would be lying if I said I did not want to be around to see It.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Goals



This cartoon reminded of a major argument I had about goals with Mr. AP.  He never approved of my passing statistics.  If you just looked at numbers, mine were never good.  But, if you looked further, you would see that they were excellent.  I always taught the students with the worst records and I usually got most of them to pass, never all and never as many as the other people in the department but I did better with these kids than anyone had done in the past.

When he asked me to set a goal, I said I wanted 100% to pass.  He told me that was impossible and I should be realistic and suggested an 88% passing.  I said, I would set my goal at 12% failing.  He didn't like that.  We ended the meeting without setting any goals.

Poor little Hammie is as frustrated as Mr. AP.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Scary Stuff


I haven't posted here for a while but saw this and could not resist.

Post is dedicated to all those who suffered with the Chihuahua in charge!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Arrogance-Advice to Start the Year


The look to give those no nothing supervisors and Principals who try to intimidate.  Get the upper hand!


(Photo from Congo House at the Bronx Zoo)