Monday, March 30, 2020

Corona Virus Musings

Times are hard and uncertain.  A good friend just lost her 102 year old mom and couldn't be with her at the end.  I am on a committee from my temple that arranges for food deliveries after a death.  It broke my heart doing this yesterday and although the death wasn't Corona related and welcomed as he was sick for a long time it was sad to order food for only three people.  I am sure there are so many more who would like to honor this man.

As I walked this morning I thought of people I had been friends with.  Through mistakes, misunderstanding and lots of anger on both sides those friendships have dissolved.  I have resolved to write to these friends and try to reconnect. I am not saying a friendship will ever resume but I am hoping to soften the sharp edge between us.

Stay safe, sorry for the depressing post.  Bless the teachers struggling with online teaching, the poor kids who found school to be their only refuge from the hard lives they have at home and all the people working to keep us safe.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Helping Others Helps Me

Our mailman asked me to help his daughter with math as she was struggling.  He heard I was a math teacher from his friend who had a son in my class several years ago.  Although I don't usually tutor, my mailman is the best and there is almost nothing I wouldn't do for him so of course I said yes.

This happened to be a great week to start, since school were closed, Jill had lots of free time and it just so happened I didn't have a lot to do this week either so we met on Monday.  My mailman and his daughter walked in with the biggest box of cookies I have ever seen and sure enough, they were my favorite cookies.  I told them not to bring anything again as they were friends and friends don't need gifts from friends.

Jill and I worked for about an hour and it was obvious from her facial expressions that she was catching on and feeling really good about the things we were going over.  She even seemed to enjoy the math.  When she left we made plans for two more sessions this week.  I had a fight with her dad when he wanted to pay me.  Friends don't take money from friends and I only help people I like.

My mailman is back to work so Jill has been having her mom bring her over.  Today mom walked in with a huge bag of fruit.  More important was the way Jill was able to write a geometry proof when she left and her new confidence.  On Monday she just wanted to pass.  Today she wants honor status in math.  I assured her we will keep working until she gets this on the regents.

Working with Jill reminded me of how much I loved teaching and how much I loved working with students who needed me.  It felt good to give and it felt great to get the hug when she left. 

Sunday, January 05, 2020


I just finished dumping the rest of my lesson plans.  I guess I held on to the calculus ones for so long because I spent so much time working on them and it was truly a labor of love.  Anyway, I came across this cartoon,  I always tried to lighten the load by adding a little humor to everything I did.

I hope my students are all doing well and have nice memories of our classes.  I miss them all but don’t miss all the other BS that went along with the job.  Retirement is great.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Since this has happened to me, the article really hit home.  I know exactly how I would handle this!  And, I feel for the writer.  Being ghosted hurts.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Dilbert Says It Again

Saw this and thought of all the unqualified Principals and assistant Principals in schools today like the totally unqualified math teacher (she certified after leaving a business career, failed teaching exam first time) who became an AP in special education or the math AP who observed my AP calculus class with not a clue about what I was doing.  I could go on and on but every teacher reading this can add plenty of their own examples.  Also add in all the people who think they know everything about teaching because they went to school.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Goodbye Mr. L We Will Miss You

Most people don't realize that Mr. L was really a shy, introverted guy.  The loud man who told lots of off color jokes just covered up a very private, very insecure person.  We spent a lot of time talking.  When Mr. L told me he liked a pair of shoes I was wearing, I nicknamed them Mr. L's shoes and wore them long after they should have been discarded.  Imagine, I took fashion advice from Mr. L!  When Mr. L told me his attraction for short, chubby women, I kept my eyes open always looking for a good one for him.

I remember one Passover when he came to my seder and how my dad who did not like too many people, liked him.  I remember when he had trouble walking but still vowed to walk his son down the aisle and he did.

Mr. L had health problems towards the end of his career and he could not physically be the teacher he once was.  Our principal at that time (not Principal Suit) respected what he once was and gave him an assignment he could handle.  Hats off to that administrator.  Unfortunately, not everyone was so nice.  I won't go into details here but I no longer speak to her.

Mr. L loved his job and he loved people, especially the people he worked with. Mostly he loved his sons and his grandchildren.   He glowed when he talked about all of them.   I always said he would probably die with a piece of chalk in his hand.  I wish I was right.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Letter to Editor

A recent Newsday editorial said that education standards were getting low, partly because there are teachers who want to pass everyone.  Here is a response from an actual teacher!

Friday, September 20, 2019


A vacation in Amsterdam when flights are cheap, streets and sites not overly crowded as the school year begins.  

Picture taken in Delft.  Bikes rule in the Netherlands 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Right Choice For Me

I know people who say they don’t know what they would do if they retired. To me, it is a no brainer. This is so much better than fighting with my ill mannered, ill tempered, stupid former AP.  

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Scowl

Let me begin this post by saying THANK GOODNESS LOOKS CAN'T KILL.  If they could, I would not be here to write this post.

I passed this woman in the supermarket today.  I know she saw me before I saw her because as soon as I saw her, her eyes darted away.  I thought, how sad.  We were friends, good friends.  We shared so many holidays.  I opened my family to her when hers was not there. I know intimidate details about her marriage, her family, her health, things I was told but asked to never repeat.  I never will.  I made a promise I will keep till I die.

I understand people grow and change.  Bonds that once held wear out.  But, should friendship be replaced with hatred?  I can't, for the life of me, think of one incident that would cause this kind of disgust.

I come home and reflect.  I write this post to get things off my chest.  I wish I could have told her  I don't hate her. I don't,   I feel sorry for the hate she holds inside, the hate that turned her attractive face ugly.

Being friends and being civil are mutually exclusive events.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Education Today

Credit recovery, everyone passes, the story of a high school diploma in today’s world.

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 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


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


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


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.