Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summer And The Living Is Easy

Summertime--the teacher should have no cares, no worries. The teacher is on vacation, free from the classroom, free from lesson plans, free from marking, FREE.

All this would be true if the teacher were not an ATR. The ATR does not have a classroom to be free from and unless there is a miracle, the teacher will have no classroom to go to in September. The ATR belongs in the classroom. The teacher is only an ATR because the school has closed and no school is willing to take the teacher who has been around a few years, the teacher who knows the score and asks things like "why?" and says "I know a way that works", the teacher who refuses to jump on command.

The ATR is spending the summer going from job fair to job fair, school to school, hoping to find a school. Every day is filled with the dread of not knowing what the future will hold and of dealing with people who have no idea how bad it is to be an ATR. Every day the ATR wonders why the union is doing nothing to help. Every day there is a prayer that a real teaching job will appear.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Blood Sucker

At a high-school faculty meeting midway through the school year, the principal had presented an agonizing list of our sins, failures, flaws and transgressions, and we were all feeling rather tense. Then the principal announced that the science-club project would be a blood drive, and that in order to promote faculty participation he would donate the first pint of blood. The meeting burst into laughter when a voice from the back of the room demanded anxiously, "Whose?"
(sad comment from

Lee's Wedding

Lee got married last night. It was the last of four weddings we attended this summer. While it has been an expensive summer (those gifts really add up), it has been money well spent and has made the summer truly memorable and pleasurable.

I met Lee's dad when I first started teaching over 30 years ago. He came to my school after being excessed from a school in the Bronx. His dad instantly became friends with the group I hung out with and we were all inseparable. In fact, today, we are all just as close as we were then. Together with our spouses we are a close knit group.

Lee's dad was the very first person I was close with who became a dad. I will never forget the glow in is face when Lee was born.

He was glowing last night, like the light above, at the wedding of this first born child. (Photo from wedding.)

The wedding itself was sensational. Lee is Jewish and his lovely bride does not follow any particular religion so they decided to get married by a judge, write their own vows and add a couple of Jewish traditions. Lee broke the glass at the end of the ceremony and the bride's mother hand knit the chuppah. If you look carefully you can see the Statue of Liberty in the background.

The wedding took place at Battery City Gardens, part of my favorite park in the entire city.

Staten Island Ferry

Couple of guys fishing on this beautiful day
Carnival cruise ship to Nova Scotia (I've taken this cruise twice and plan to do it again. It is fantastic.)
Water falls and a sail boat
Out sailing for the dayFamily enjoying the view of the Statue of Liberty
Night view of the falls.

The reception was wonderful. The good weather held out and the cocktail hour was outside, overlooking all of the above. This guy fascinated me and I must have taken 20 pictures of him. A bartender told me he was wearing a $500 designer suit.

The bride is very down to earth. Her attendants were her sisters. She wore a shite dress with some black on it. She told them to wear black and wear anything they wanted. They were in a wide variety of styles and all happy with what they chose. The theme was earthy and all the table decorations and flowers blended perfectly.

The charger, under every one's plate.
The candle, on every table.
The centerpieces.
The salt and pepper shakers.

Nothing was like anything I have ever seen in a wedding before. Every guest had an individual name tag and place seatings were on a wall. Also on the wall were wedding pictures of parents, grandparents, great grand parents, aunts, uncles, etc.

The main thing that made this wedding so special were the two people that got married. Not only was the love they felt for each other felt by everyone in attendance, but everyone in attendance had some special significance in their lives.

When I think back on all my years of teaching, one of the things I am most grateful for is the friendships I have made and that have endured and grown over the years. To know that I am a special part of the lives of the children of the people I've taught with only enriches me more.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Instead of Real Lemon

Another Knockoff

If You Can Stand Some More Pictures

I seem to be spending more time than usual roaming the city this summer. I guess it is age. I fear the day my legs will give out and I no longer will be able to pursue this hobby. Here are some skyline pictures.

This old building houses The Container Store.

Old church with modern buildings in background.
Site if a new skyscraper. Just a few weeks ago there was a building there.
The McGraw-Hill Building--the nemesis of NYC teachers and students.
Somewhere in the theater district Looking south on Broadway from 54th St Looking towards where the ball drops New Year's Eve, on Broadway. Looking towards the east from 45th St theater (Lyceum)
Worlds' biggest department store. I always find what I am looking for here. This is a stop any tourist should make. Walking north on Seventh Avenue, south of 34th St.
I've tried to photograph this building at night for years. It never comes out just right. It lights up really nice after dark. (Theater district) Somewhere in the 20's on Sixth Ave. All these magnificent buildings hold commercial establishments now. I'm so happy that they were never taken down.
Metropolitan Life Building on 23rd St (east side). The clock is famous.
The most famous building of all--Empire State Building as seen from 29th St and 5th Ave.
Just a regular apartment house on 9th Ave.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

On-Line Contests

On-line contests--I'm addicted to them. They require almost no effort and no outlay of money, not even postage. The one that really caused my addiction was Freelotto. I won $300 once just by clicking a few buttons. (I also won smaller amounts many times over a few years.) Unfortunately, Freelotto is no longer legal in New York so I cannot participate anymore.

I won front row tickets and diner to see Elton John last year and movie tickets (which included two $25 Fortunoff gift certificates) from Newsday.

Today, I found this box waiting for me by my front door. I won a gift package from L'Oreal from some contest I don't even remember entering.

All these fun Styrofoam pieces and a pink bucket
Lots of goodies from L'Oreal!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Can't Win With This Guy

The AP scores are in. Here are a few comments that I have received from my students.

I got a 5 on my AP Exam.Either the Test was extremely easy or you were one
heck of a teacher, and im gonna have to go with the second option obviously.
Thanks for making the experience of calaculus fun and easy for a guy like me to
understand. You truly are a great teacher.

I hope you are enjoying your summer, and missing us tremendously. Well you
might have been notified that we received out AP scores. Before I tell you,
I want to thank you for everything and let you know that this would not have
happened i without you and your confidence for us. Your support wasa great
deal, and we all appreciate it. You were more than a teacher, you are a great
friend. I just wanna hug you right now. Well here it goes. Drum Roll
please................I got a 5. Haha thank you so much, hehe. Well have a great
summer, and talk to you later.

i gota 4 on the AP !!!!! woohooooooooooo
this is Patty btw .. im so
proud of myself.. o man you were right about me ms.

i didn't forget, i jus got mine yesterday. Now brace yourself...i got a ...
five. I know, i can't believe it either. But its true. There must be a big
curve. Thank you, its also because you are a great teacher. Thank you

I got an e-mail from Mr. AP today. He told me that over 90% of my class passes. It is a new record for our school.

I will mail them [the grades] to you. Your students did exceedingly well. Maybe we should put more students into BC.

No," good job", no "congratulations", no "keep up the good work", just the implication that they did well because they were too smart for the class. It seems he is unhappy if they don't do well and he is unhappy when they do well. He should only know where the kids were all term and how poorly some of them were doing. And, if it had been up to him, he would not have let some of them take the exam because their grades were so low all semester. It's the e-mails from my students that keep me going.

I Have Too Much Time On My Hands

I love these Dollar Store knock offs--Time instead of Tide Maestro Limpio instead of Mr. Clean
You've got to be quick taking the pictures. The owners of these stores don't like photographers roaming their aisles.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Good Thing I'm Not a Germ Phobe

Gloves to serve pizza would be a good idea if the same gloves didn't handle money.

Good thing a few germs never killed anyone. The pizza in this place is great! Maybe the germs add to its flavor.

(Photo taken in the pizza store which I won't name.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008


John graduated from Packemin HS in 1995. When I first met him, I thought he was kind of slow, but a really nice kid. I never called his home because he appeared to be working to capacity so why stress his mom and dad. He did manage to pass and I was able to put him in a double period class where he could get extra help.

I ended up being the teacher of this double period class and got to know John and his two buddies completely. I found that these three ninth grade boys were not slow, but were not interested in school either. They lived and breathed baseball. They dreamt of opening up a surf shop together in South Beach. I encouraged their dreams and also stressed their education so they would have something to fall back on, just in case. I even took my son to cheer them on as they played on the junior varsity team in a nearby park.

By coincidence, John ended up in my class the following year. He still was not much of a worker and I picked on him and pushed him to work and that he did. He passed Sequential Math I, II and III. He graduated and went on to a community college. After 4 years, he decided to become a history teacher and came back to Packemin to do his observations. He begged his advisor to be allowed to sit in my math class, rather than a history class and the advisor agreed. He said, he wanted to be just like me when he started teaching. (Pity his poor students.) Once again, I was calling on John, along with the rest of my class.

Fast forward two more years, John is now graduating college and about to become a teacher. Again, coincidentally, his mom is a para at Packemin. I am so happy that I send John a check for $25 to celebrate his graduation. John frames it instead of cashing it.

It is now 2008, 13 years since John graduated from high school and 17 years since I first met him. John got married this weekend. His two friends from high school were there. Only in New York would a kid from the Philippines have best friends from Columbia and Pakistan. My husband and I were invited to the wedding banquet. I felt honored to have been invited after all the years that passed. John even had a picture of the two of us in his slide show. I had tears in my eyes as I saw this wonderful young man enter the room with his beautiful bride.

Some people would have written the three of them off years ago. All three are big successes. John teaches history and although he never made it to the major league, he coaches his school's varsity baseball team. One of the boys is a computer geek and earns big $$$$$ doing IT stuff and the other is in charge of all the stores of a major retailer in the New York area. I'm glad I never gave up on them.

This was my first Chinese Banquet dinner. Although there was nothing that I could eat (not kosher), it was an event to remember. At 5:30 a buffet table opened. At 6:30 the guests took their seats and platter after platter was brought out. I think there were ten courses. The last one before dessert was lobsters. My husband said it was the best food he has ever eaten. All I know is that I have never seen so much food in one place before.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Welcoming Words

"Come in. I've been waiting for you."

A woman in the nail salon repeated these words that a teacher had said to her students many years ago The teacher never reprimanded them for being late or sent them out for a pass. She just showed joy at their arrival. The kids learned to not only show up on time, but to be early.

Too bad my school does not believe in this policy. I only yell at my students for being late if there is an administrator in the room. The kids know I don't mean to yell. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all treat our students this way.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Skip This If You Are Tired Of My Pictures

My aching feet. I met my friend at Penn Station. We walked from there to Avenue A and 3rd St to a craft store. Then we headed over to the Container Store on 17th and 6th. They were out of what I wanted so we went to the branch on 58th and Lexington. I finally got back on the subway at 63rd and Lexington. As the years pass, I know there will come a day when I will no longer be able to wander the streets. I have to get it all in now, no matter what the weather may bring. This store looked really interesting. Next time, we are going to stop.
Most people don't realize that there are tree lined streets in Manhattan.
This poor guy was dripping . It was in the high 90's today.

The Gershwin Hotel. next time, I am going to check out their bathroom.
Barnes and Nobles on St. Mark's Place. It is out of business. Aside from the sadness of a closed business, NYC lost a good bathroom stop.
St. mark's Place has interesting store windows. An old synagogue on some side street I never walked on before.

We were wondering if it was still in use and were pleased to see this sign on the door.

As seen from Lexington Ave.

Also from Lexington. I love the contrast of the old buildings with the new.
The carvings on this building are really great.
New York Magazine headquarters.
More construction.
Huge crane.
I can't imagine what it is like to work underground, in the heat, every day of my life. These poor guys really earn their money.