A New Year

•October 1, 2009 • 1 Comment

What a begining to the year. Half the freshman staff has been replaced. I’ve been allowed to start a new class called Speaking Drama that wfamilyill put a play on later this year. I have larger classes than ever (120 students). The grounds crew took a weedwacker to our school garden.

Most importantly my wife gave birth to our new daughter, Marley Marie. She was born only five days after my students returned, which made things interesting. My wife was to be induced on Wednesday night at 8pm and like a good teacher I prepared everything the kids were to do while I was out for the next five days. However, when I got home on Tuesday she began having contractions. Of course we had no idea that that’s what they were since my son, Brody, arrived a month early due to preaclamsea, so we went on with our evening as planned. When we arrived at Chick-fil-a (a rare moment in of fast food for us) my son and I headed for the play area while Jenni went to get dinner. When she came back to our table I had my son pushing his nose and tongue up against the glass as I hid in the corner acting like this was someone elses child. Usually this has my wife simitaneously laughing and cursing, but she instead sat down with her head between her legs. 

Lady sitting next to me: Is that your wife?

Me: Yes.

Lady: Is she having contractions?

Me: I’m not sure. We think she may be, but when we had my-

Lady: She’s having contractions. You should call your doctor immediatly.

Me: Thanks lady in the Chick-Fil-A play area.

Jenni calls the doctor and sure enough we are asked to come in immediatly. We drive 20 minutes home to get Jenni’s stuff. Twenty-five minutes to her parents to drop off the boy. Another twenty-five minutes home, as I don’t know how to get to the hospital from her parents house, and finally another 40 minutes to the hospital. I was done before  we got there. We were in this small beautiful hospital in Elmer, NJ for an hour and ten minutes or so when the midwife said it was time to deliver. She then asked if I would like to catch the baby. Huh? I immediatly thought no. I mean what if I couldn’t do it? What if  I fainted and dropped the baby? I’m not sure why I decided to do it. Except I felt like it was the first wonderful thing I could help my daughter do. Come into the world. Bare handed, I reached down and pulled my little girl from my wifes body and got to see he face before anyone else.

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Last Week of School

•June 15, 2009 • 2 Comments

kid_lord_flies-431x300I always want to enjoy the last week of school. I want to tell the students how much I’ll miss them over the summer. However, our school has a knack for making the last week of school totally meaningless. We finished finals last week and grades are already in, however, we still show up and go threw the motions. The kids are very aware that there are no consequences for their actions so they play Lord of the Flies. Alas, we are left watching movies until the end of the week.

Just a little venting.

I do get to end my week by flying off to Key West on the last day of school.  Exceptional.

Too nice to write.

•May 15, 2009 • 2 Comments

Man a lot of stuff has been going on lately, but it has been so nice outside that I have hardly been on the computer. Our school garden got finished. It turned out well. A gang of kids and I now spend just about everyday during seventh period weeding and watering. Sometimes I get concerned that they are missing out on some good gossip and texting time while wasting their time with screwing around with plants but my hope is that they’ll be able to catch up later.

Our tomatoes and peppers are coming along nicely . The raspberry bush still looks like it’s laughing at us for buying it, as it is nothing more than a stick standing erect at the end of it raised bed.

The Harlem Renaissance Project was a bit weak this year. I am finding that not all projects have the same allure every year. Some years a particular project, story, or poem may have the kids flying out the door at the end of class and the next year they might think everything is so commonplace. The Harlem Renaissance Museum usually kills it every year, but this year it barely maimed anyone.

However, we did Saul Williams “Coded Language” yesterday and a lot of kids seemed very moved by it. Last year I realized that most kids, especially the males think poetry is “gay.” I would try to have them write poetry and quickly realized it wasn’t happening. I think a large part of that is because I could only teach it as someone who loves poetry, but doesn’t write it. I mean I love to farm, but don’t think I’m going to cook any of that stuff. So last year I started teaching poetry appreciation. It’s worked a lot better. I show and read poems I love and poems that I think make milk curdle. Yesterday was Alicia Keys’ “POW.” That performance hurt my feelings five times yesterday. Today we’ll try to start the weekend off right with Buddy Wakefield’s “Pretend.”

Off to live the dream.

Day 1

•May 5, 2009 • 2 Comments

Last Saturday I got to go to Home Depot and do a little bit of dream shopping with the schools money. I love gardening, but some of those perennials are too expensive for my meager public school paycheck. The science teacher and I loaded up a truck with arborvities, boxwoods, a forsithea bush, bulds, seeds, vegatable plants, flowers, and a mountain of torn dirt and mulch bags. Home Depot throws all of that perfectly amazing dirt away if the bags are torn. So now I go just about every weekend and check to see what needs to be taken away. There is Home Depot dirt all over my neighborhood now.

On a hot Monday morning the science and literature classes of Camden Academy tore up the rocky ground of Cramer Hill and planted seeds far and wide. I was wonderful.

The “Bitch Ass School” Garden Takes Shape!

•April 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The cottage garden before the dig.Spring break was a great break as always. I got to spend a lot of time with Brody and did some secretive midnight gardening around the GC with some friends. When we got back to school we found out that we did indeed get approved for our gardens at school. True to form the school approved us about six weeks ago and we just found out Tuesday. Also true to form the school wanted us to put it all together on Wednesday for Earth Day. This wasn’t going to happen. we had no supplies, no compost, no plants. The school wanted our lunchman, who does speak English, to go and pick up what we needed. We got them to hold out. So now I’ll be spending my Saturday running to Philadelphia to get some cheap dirt in  Fairmount Park and then running back and forth from Home Depot to get plants and lumber to have us all set up for Monday. To top it off I just found out at the end of the school day today that I’ll be observed on Monday.  I’m pretty sure I can fit all of this into my lesson plans, but I was sort of hoping ot have this week sort of over looked by the administration. I figured they would just come out at the end of the week and be so blown away with what we had done that they wouldn’t even think of how it happened.

We will have three different gardens. One will be filled with different flowers and shrubs. Another will be a series of raised beds where we will grow all types of vegetable and fruits. The last is behind the school where the vandals spray painted “Bitch Ass School” across the back of the school. Here we will grow pumpkins and watermelons. One of the kids asked if we could name it the Bitch Ass School Memorial Garden in memory of the students who were asked to leave the school after being caught destroying it. I’m not sure that will fly with the admins.

Spring Break

•April 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

For the last three years the week before spring break has been…almost more than can be handled. The kids and teachers are all ready to have a break. Grades are due. Projects are due. Half days are coming at you from all angles. Observations by the non-teacher who does your observations have to been fit in. And at night Holy Week is there to give me a special peace.

Many of the great teachers that I read about have this incredable ablity to keep their classes going on weeks like this. These are the folks that can have their kids engaged in some intense long division on Christmas Eve night. However, I chosen the path of least resistance on this week before spring break. This week more kids get suspended, bulbs1detentioned, and reprimanded than any other week of the year. So we watch movies. Not always my favorite stuff, but something that engages the kids and keeps them cool while the sounds of madness creep through our walls from the other classes.

I wonder if the break would be needed so much if it didn’t exist? In any case I’m glad it is approaching. There is a lot of great stuff left to teach and learn this year and I am looking forward to coming back from break with the energy of a madman to finish the year off right.

Camden’s Guerilla Gardeners

•April 3, 2009 • 1 Comment