New School. New weird concepts.

I have not been on here lately because I have been teaching in a new school and because they will not give teachers their Wi-fi password I cannot log on with my personal electronics of any type.  I take my cell phone to school, I always put it on silent, but I always have it in case there is an emergency outside of school where people may want to get in touch with me instead of waiting for the end of the school day.  I even wonder what would it be like if someone did come into our school and we had an emergency.  Our in-class phones do not dial out and our cell phones are spotty because of not being on their internet wi-fi.  I try not to let this bother me while I am teaching.

So it was just Valentines Day.  A day that I do not really celebrate but now that I am teaching 4th grade I wondered if this holiday was celebrated in my new school like I celebrated it in my school when I was in grade school.  We would all make our Valentine boxes out of the shoe box that we could find, we would go out and have our parents let us choose what Valentines we would need to show our “like” and “love” to our fellow classmates.  I would wisely pick which Scooby Doo Valentine I would choose for my friends, for the students that were nice but not my best friends, for the kids in the class that were “bad”, and then for that one student that you never talked to who you thought would one day in high school be your “boyfriend”.  Of course the Valentine with Daphney in a pose by the Dream Machine van surrounded by hearts would be the one that you would choose for your Valentine dream card receiver.

I asked my team if we did have a Valentine party and the answer was yes!  We would have about an hour at the end of February 14 to trade cards and candy and to eat the cupcakes brought in by the room parents.  YAY!!!!

We decided as a team to have them deliver all 51 Valentines to all of their friends in 4th grade.  We are a private school and they have been together as a group now for 5 and 6 years.  They know each other well , have recess together, play sports together, and eat lunch together and they want to spread their good Valentine greetings to all of their friends.  We thought that we were being nice in allowing the kids to receive 51 Valentines from all of their friends.  Once agin, we were wrong.

We received emails from parents arguing with us that they did not have the time to go out to buy these Valentines, they cost about $2.50 for a pack of 28.  The marketers are the winner in this one since most classes in the U.S. have around 21-30 kids in a class.  Go over 28 and that parent has to buy another packet anyway!  We gave the parents and students a good week to prepare.  The parents were arguing with us that they did not have time to do all 51 Valentines.  Our response?  You are not “doing” the Valentines your child is.  I even had a parent in the car pick-up line stop the movement of cars to yell out her window nicely at me that she didn’t agree with what we chose to do.  With my hand out in the proper keep the car progression going , I yelled back, “Sorry, we are moving on with our plan, you are allowed not to participate, it’s your choice.  BYE!  have a great evening!”  I should have added, “the stores are open now with Valentines for sale!”

Valentines day arrived and the kids started to bring in their boxes and bags.  We told them that if they couldn’t find a box to decorate just bring in a bag for their Valentines to be dropped into.  Kids do not care, they just want the Valentines and any candy that my be given with them!

Boxes were coming in decorated with hearts, flowers, pink stripes, red dots, arrows, and the boy decorated boxes with Fort Nite and Spiderman on them.  They decorated in the way that they enjoyed for what should be just a fun day of celebrating friendship and love of one another.

The best Valentine box that arrived was from a boy who made a toilet that when you lifted the lid the kids could deposit the Valentines right into the toilet bowl.  His mom came in with him and his 2nd grade brother and asked me if is was ok.  OK?  I said that it was the most creative box and that I loved that she and her son took the time together to make something that he chose.  The Valentine toilet box had an aluminum foil handle and was made perfectly.  When you open the lid and looked inside he had also placed a little poop emoji!  The emoji is everywhere these days, kids love it.  Its not my favorite but 4th grade kids think a lot of stuff is funny that sadly I have outgrown:(

We went on with our morning in school , we went over a test and then played a color Scattergories game.  We had a fun morning in our first class.  This class also voted for the Valentine toilet as the best box in that 4th grade section.  I was to take this class on to their outclass next so they packed up and we were on our way to what we thought was the continuation of a fun school day of love.

I came back to my classroom and a representative of the school was looking at all of the creative boxes in the hallway.  She was taking pictures of them for the schools online news write up.  I showed her the Valentine toilet box and that is when we can say literally that this was when the “shit hit the fan”.

Another person who thinks that they rule the school saw us laughing and thinking how creative the VT box was.  This person immediately said that it was inappropriate for school and “luckily” the Vice Principal was just walking by.  She turned her head in disgust!  Now the pot was stirred and the first person ran up the steps to the headmasters office faster than any person that ever needed toilet space ever ran.  The next thing I know I have my lead teacher, the headmaster, the pot stirrer and the Vice Principal all staring at and discussing the most creative Valentine box in that hallway.  We all go to the bathroom, everyone has seen a toilet.  What is the big deal?

The headmaster then tells me that it is a big deal.  That box is offensive and has to be removed.  So, what to do?  You can tell the boy that he is not in trouble but it has to go into the room so that no one can see it.  My VP moves it into my room, I just nod in disgust in my head and I go to get the kids to return to the room from their outclass.  The problem is that I was also told that the parents would be told and that we, the 4th grade teachers had to tell the student that his box was not acceptable but do not tell him that this decision came from the administration!  OK, so then who do I tell him that it came from because all of the 4th grade teachers thought that it was creative and fine.

The box got to stay without the poop emoji, I gave that to the boy to put in his pocket.  Our main principal said to put it back out in the hall behind other boxes, don’

t make a big deal about it.  Hmm, WE DIDN’T!

What really gets me on this whole ordeal is that the student who made this is a great student, he loves sports but also loves to be creative.  Also his mom took the time to allow both her boys to choose a design to make for their boxes and then she allowed them to be creative for a fun day.  This boy has a great sense of humor and will always correct himself in the classroom if asked by the teacher.  He gets good grades and is very respectful.  He is in 4th grade, he wanted to have fun on Valentines Day in the way that most 4th grade boys would also choose.  Adults once again could not see through the eyes of a child.  They were once children, would they have once thought that the Valentine Toilet Box was offensive in their school days?  I would bet high stakes in Vegas that they would not!

Hope that you all had a great Valentines Day.  Mine was kind of poopy!

 

 

 

I’m Back

Teaching now in a private school that has a school selling point of, “We teach each grade at a grade above”.  I’m teaching 4th grade which is the lowest grade that I have ever taught and I have now decided that I am a true middle school teacher.  I love the kids and they are really progressing but the day to day slowness is killing me.  Now I have said that we are teaching at a grade above so I am technically teaching 5th grade in 4th grade.  Guess what?  I’m still teaching at their level.  Sure there are some students who can learn at a higher level but in this day of age where everyone gets a trophy, everyone is also put in a class with every level of knowledge so I have smart kids, really smart kids, average kids, kids that are at a low level , and also one student who cannot read English and cannot write in it either. So I have all of these levels of students and I am supposed to teach them at a higher grade level.

This happens in every school.  When I was in 6th grade and had moved on to the middle school, we all knew that we were in classes with students who were at our level of learning.  We didn’t go home and tell our mom’s that we were not in the high achiever class.  In today’s schools every one is a straight A student and every one is eventually going to Harvard!

I like my new school but I seriously worry about how we are making schools look good.  We are not teaching the basics, we are teaching to look good.  The students may be able to mimic the work done in class but are they really learning the material?  Can they carry what they have so called learned and apply it to something else?

I feel that ours schools are doing an inservice to the majority of students in that we are forgetting to teach the basics before we progress with them onto further learning.  You cannot build a car if you do not understand how to put all of the car parts together.

So a new school begins

I recently started teaching again.  I am teaching 4th grade at a private school, the two subjects that I am teaching are science, which is a perfect fit and Texas History.  I am from Ohio so I guess I will be learning about the history of Texas with my new students.  That’s fine, we all need to keep on learning whether it is forced learning or learning that we ourselves have chosen.

My new school is 3 miles away and that is great.  I am not sure about teaching at the 4th grade level.  I have to slow down.  After teaching middle school for so long you forget how the 4th grade mind takes a few more minutes to do everything!

We do have a slight problem in the school where I am now working.  They are a school that sells the “theory” that we teach a grade above and that every student that we take can handle this.  I’m supposed to be teaching at a fifth grade level in fourth grade.  The concept sounds great and some students are ready for this.  Here is the problem that I and some other teachers have noticed.  The teachers know that some of the students are not at an advanced level but every parent that I have met so far thinks that their kid is a genius.  I would say that out of 51 kids, maybe, and that is a big maybe , we have 6 kids who can work ahead and understand and handle advanced work and can get the right notebook out of their cubby when asked.

Its a nice school but it hasn’t been long enough for me to determine if I truly believe that what the school is selling to the parents is true.  I will teach to the best of my ability and will see how the year ends up. I hope that I am wrong.  I want to see if some of these students  catch up and in some cases to watch to see if their parents do appreciate the time that we teachers take in trying to help their student achieve within their expectations. Time will tell and I will tell you what happens.

 

 

 

New job, new teacher!

I will be teaching again this year at a private international school that allows me to teach science again.  Oh and they threw in teaching Texas History.  I can give that an Ohio flair!  Teaching 4th grade at the 5th grade level.

We started back this week and had parent orientation today and all is well.  The students will start back on Tuesday and the new year begins.

When I introduced myself to the new faculty I let them know that I came from the Catholic Schools and I told them to forgive me if I stopped to shake their hand with a Peace Be With You!  I am hoping that peace has arrived with my new school.  I am pretty sure already I have found a good school to teach at.  You just know these things.:)

 

 

Front Row Seats, Oh Boy!

Recently I bought tickets to go to see the 80s bands the Thompson Twins, the B52’s and Boy George and Culture Club.  I usually buy the mid priced tickets and I make sure that I am in the middle of the seating at any level.  In the large arenas I never buy floor seats because even though I do not mind standing for an entire concert, my height restrains me from sometimes seeing everything because I know that the only 6 foot 10 person will end up in front of me.

My husband agreed to go to this concert with me and we were happy with our first level seats that we bought at a reasonable price.  We got to the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land Texas about 45 minutes early because I am always early and I do like to look around at what may be available in the lobby.  As we walked in to the lobby I saw that they had video games and I commented that they didn’t have those the last time that I was there for a concert.  My husband Steve said that he heard on the radio station that was promoting the concert that they said to stop by to play the 80’s video machines that they were bringing to the concert.  We got in the cue to play the games and they also had a raffle to win front row tickets for that night’s show.  I signed a ticket and Steve declined because I am the gambler/game player and he is the engineer in the family.  I signed the ticket with my name and phone number and because there was a wait to play any game I just went on to other offerings in the lobby.  I named an 80’s song and won a new sweat towel for my car so I was happy.

We went to our seats and they were in the 200 section directly viewing the middle of the stage down below.  I commented to Steve that I needed to keep checking my phone because I knew I was going to win the front row tickets.  Steve rolled his eyes at my comment and he decided to go to get us a popcorn and a drink.  He returned and that was when my whole concert experience changed.  I received a text saying that I had won the front row tickets and that I needed to return to the video game site in 5 minutes to receive my tickets.  I jumped up and ran.  I ran and flew down those 4 flights of carpeted stairs faster than any one has ever descended there.  I got to the girl who had the tickets and she asked for my blue ticket that was the mate to the ticket that I had signed.  For a second I was worried that maybe that matching ticket had disappeared when I had visited the restroom but as I looked in my pocket there it was.  My blue lucky ticket matched and we were given two front row seats.

Sitting in the front row at a concert in which you know every song is the best experience ever.  I could see the set lists on the stage, I could see the people off of the side of the stage, I could see the sweat on the performers faces, and I could see every detail of their outfits.

We missed part of the Thompson Twins set but as the B52’s came on I stood up and never sat down for the entire concert to come.  The B52’s were colorful and just fun to listen to.  A girl down from me was also standing and enjoying the music while those around her where not.  I glanced at her and she felt like she should also sit and I nodded to her to keep enjoying our front row experience.  I know most of the B52’s songs and even those that I did not know I still stood and enjoyed.  After the B52’s were finished, a band roadie offered me the set list and I accepted it gladly.  Another lady just took one and was chased down by a worker.  I was given mine.  Do not just grab what not is yours.

Between sets the lights in the arena would go on and there would be a 15 minute break.  I could not wait until Boy George came on.  The lights went down and here came Boy George.  Let me tell you, his out fit was great, it was a loose fitting black jacket with matching black pants.  His signature hat had a band surrounded by white buttons the size of half dollars, and his shirt had writing on it that gave the vegan fans something to love.  Boy George has beautiful blue eyes and he had makeup and a jewel as part of his face makeup that makes him thee Boy George.

I noticed during all of the sections of the concert that even though we were in the front row of the concert and could see virtually everything up close people still had their phones out the entire time.  Yes, I took pictures but I took a couple and then my phone was in my pocket so that I could enjoy the moment.  Boy George was maybe on his 6th song and he remarked that he was no too hip with technology and then he headed my way and pointed to me and remarked how I was thoroughly just enjoying the show.  At this time he came right to me and I went towards the edge of the stage and I grabbed his hand that he offered.  He asked me my name, I said Kim and he remarked that he liked my blue shirt.  Yes it matched my blue lucky ticket!  He held onto my hand I turned around with the spotlight on me and waved to my new fans.;)

At the end of their set we all applauded and the band and Boy George exited.  I could see the set list so I knew that there were 3 more songs ending with Karma Chameleon.  Boy George came back on and announced that the next song was one that we probably did not know but that he enjoyed singing.  Then he dedicated that song………to me!!!  “This song is for Kim in blue!”  He laughed and then sang Give Me Life.  He finished the set with Karma and thanked Houston for being a great crowd.

The rest of the band left the stage and the drummer came my way.  I motioned if I could have their set list and he gave me that.  I always wear more than one bracelet so I took one off and gave it to him and asked him to give it to Boy George and tell him that Kim loved the concert.  He said, “Of course I will give it to Boy!”

I was exhausted as I left with all of my set lists but it was the best concert in the front row ever.  Oh we also got a guitar pick that we thought went over our heads.  When the lights went on there was the pick laying there for me to pick up.

Best Concert Ever.  The front row experience will now make me think about what tickets I choose especially if it is for an act in which I know every song.  It would be worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read this…

Recently I picked up the book Bouillabaisse by Stacey Sauter at this year’s BookCon in NYC.  She was nice enough to give me an advanced copy.  I received many books this way but I read this book first and I am very glad that I did.

It is based in the 1960’s with a family that takes in it’s cousins because their mom has been killed by their adoring father who is on the lamb after robbing banks.  Gail is the the main character in this book.  She is 15 and awakes one morning to find a baby boy in the lower drawer of her bureau.  This baby is one of the children that comes to live with her family after the horrible “fall” that her aunt has taken when pregnant with this baby.  Gail becomes the child in the house that helps her father and mother take in her now homeless cousins.  Oh by the way they are all boys and Patti is the lone girl who comes to live with Gail’s family and she has special needs.

This story will bring the memories back for older female readers but I think that younger teen girls need to read this and will also love it’s story for a different reason.  I liked the story because it resonated with my Catholic upbringing and it shows how far females have progressed in being able to make our own choices.  Teenage girls with understand what it takes to have a baby at a young age.  This is always the best birth control as I see it!

Gail is a strong young lady and she questions the adults in this story.  She also sees the needs of her cousin Patty who is not treated too nicely at first in regards to doing what the other kids in the family are expected to do.  Gail’s father makes an agenda for each kid to be responsible for dinner once a week and Patty also wants this responsibility.  Needless to say, one of her cousins calls out her inability to do such a thing with her intelligence.  Patty finds help with the neighborhood’s Catholic school nuns who teach Patty how to make Bouillabaisse soup.

The book continues to follow the path of Gail’s family as they struggle in taking care of all of the family’s needs since they all have to depend on each other under one salary by Gail’s father.  Gail’s mother loses some of her get up and go from losing her sister in such a cruel way and Gail leads the family in a story that leads you to an ending that is surprising and well told.

Bouillabaisse is available now on Amazon in paperback and is a book that you need to read.  Loved it.

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Why was I cut out of the movie?

I was recently in NYC and saw the movie Ocean’s 8.  I really liked the movie, I love all of the women in it and I liked the story line.  I have read reviews on it and the reviewers all have commented on the storyline being too simple.  Please, it is a movie to entertain us.  I do not need every movie to teach me a lesson or to bring a hardship of this existence on Earth.  I go to the movies for enjoyment.

Some of you may be reading this and just said to yourself, “she capitalized the word Earth”.  Yes, yes I did.  Why is every other planet capitalized and Earth usually is not when used in a sentence?  It is our planet’s name.  The last time that I was in an English class I believe I learned that a proper noun as in a name is to be capitalized.  Right?  So why does no one capitalize the name Earth?

If you are to become an astronaut and have the dream of traveling to Mars you will always capitalize it’s name when you are sending text messages back to Earth because you probably are not coming back any time soon.  Why is our planet not being treated as a proper noun?  Heck with finding out what life forms can be found on Mars, I want to know why we are not capitalizing the word Earth.

Now there are some circumstances where the word Earth should be used with the beginning e being lower case.

Example lower case:  She picked up some earth in her hands.  (This form of earth is dirt, or any substance that was part of our planet named Earth.) .

See how I did that.  My name is Kim and if my arm falls off and someone picks it up they would not say, “hey is this a kim?”  No!  That is Kim’s arm.  Yes this is silly but please then explain why the Earth when named in any sentence is usually not capitalized?   When you can explain this get in contact with me.

So I liked Ocean’s 8 because it was a simple fun movie but I am constantly irritated when I am reading and the word Earth comes up in the dialogue and it is in lower case letters.  Maybe that is why I wasn’t asked to be in the movie.  I would have brought this question up and then the movie would have been too complex for the director but the reviewers would have loved the in-depth thought that I would have added.

Oceans 8 was a movie made on the Planet Earth!

 

 

Book Con 2018, NYC

I attended BookCon 2018 this past weekend in NYC.  It was at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan on June 2nd-3rd.  I’m not sure how I found out about it, maybe on FaceBook maybe on Litsy, I’m not really sure.  It was booked as a convention of authors, books old and new, and bookish items.

I like going to new events and since I can easily get to NYC and have a place to stay I thought that it would be a neat event to attend.  It was priced right at thirty dollars pre-sale and it looked like a good venue to receive ARCs and bookish fun items on book series that I may have read.  BookCon also had a very large amount of authors who would be in attendance for the Saturday and Sunday dates.

The venue was great and was easy to get to by subway from Brooklyn.  The Javits Center is very large and the areas to find the rooms to listen to panels were very easy to locate.  I went to listen to James Patterson and Bill Clinton introduce their book, The President is Missing.  They were both very interesting to listen to as they described how their co-authoring of a book came to be.  Weird part of this was that the book was to come out on June 4th but yet it was not offered for pre-sale at a book convention.  I would have bought one there.  I didn’t require it to be signed or touched by the authors!  I think someone missed some easy presales for that book.  Hey but what do I know!

I also went to a panel entitled “Fierce and Fabulous:  Find Your Inner Beyonce!“.  I did not go because of the title, I went to see two authors who’s books I have read and enjoyed.  These authors are Nicola Yoon who has written The Sun is also a Star and Everything, Everything and Nic Stone who wrote Dear Martin.   These three books are YA and are very attuned to today’s happenings.  The other authors in the panel were Jenny Han and Alexandra Bracken.  The panel was very outgoing and the questions that were given by David Levithan were fun.  They also gave over a few minutes of the 45 minutes that were strictly set for this panel for audience questions.  I enjoyed this panel even though I think that the title was kind of silly, but that’s just my opinion.  What should have the title been?  I’m not sure but where Beyonce fits in I am not sure.  All of the authors are women, other than that I have no idea.

The main show floor that was for the vendors was of substantial size and there was plenty of room as all of the people roamed to find what was available.  We had a problem though when it was time for ARCs to be had or when other items were being given away.  You either had to get a ticket from I do not know where or you simply found a line and took a leap at what was going to be given away.  You took the chance also that once you reached the booth that was giving books away that you may not get anything.  People were grabbing at will and piles were depleted in minutes.  It actually was a free for all.  I’m not one to enjoy standing in line for something that I really know nothing about.  I really think that some people there just took whatever they could grab even though they had no interest in that genre of book.  This was the part of BookCon that I think could be improved.  They have an app that allows you to look up and to sign up for signings and informs you of certain give aways but I just took the time to go as I pleased and enjoyed the afternoon.

I did get to talk to some authors who took the time to sit with their books and had the personalities to explain their books.  This I enjoyed.  I bought a couple of books from new authors and also some of these authors when they heard that I taught at the middle school level just offered me their book.  I will read all of the books that I got at BookCon and will email the authors that asked for my reaction to their book.

You were able to sign up for book signings at BookCon but I did not take advantage of this.   I would love to go to book signings for an author if more came to the Houston area but I did not want to take the time to stand in the lines at BookCon.  The signing areas did look like they were well planned and orderly but once again I hated to wait and waste my roaming around time.  One weird “signing” item that I found, Leigh Bardugo’s books were for sale with not a signing from herself but her stamp of her name with BookCon 2018 included in the stamp.  Did she herself stamp these?  I just think that is a lazy way to personalize a book for a reader.  Once again, my opinion but guess what?  I noticed no one was buying them.

Now the only weird thing that I saw at BookCon was the four booth layout for L. Ron Hubbard’s books.  Yes, the Scientologists bought space to sell his science fiction books and they also had auditors there talking face to face to participants.  Needless to say I walked by very quickly.  I have no need for that goofery.

I enjoyed BookCon but would I go again?  If someone wanted me to go with them I would because it was a fun day to discover some new books and to hear from authors.  It is priced nicely and is in NYC.  I just think that they need to work on how the lines for giveaways could be organized a bit better.  Maybe give the ticket holder two books when entering and then the rest is up to them to stand in line for?  I’m not sure but the lines were snaking in places that most did not even know why they were in them.  Overall it was fun to go to and I can mark that off of my bucket list.

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I may have a job?

As of May 25th I am still interviewing and I am hopeful that one of these schools will hire me to teach.  What makes me laugh when I come home from an interview is that they all ask the same questions:  Tell us about yourself.  How do you keep order in your class?  How do you work with other teachers?  Why do you like to teach?

I can talk and talk and I answer as well as I can and it still amazes me how they choose their candidate for the job.  I think that we should be able to take in a teacher that we have worked with to aid in our interviews.  Who is going to go into an interview and not say good things about themselves?  I can teach, I have past students that can attest to this.  What happens will happen.

I have 3 interviews in the next four days and I hope that I can keep it straight to whom I have answered with!  I’m hoping that I don’t get anyone mixed up.  I have looked at all of their websites and have investigated their schools.  Will it be enough?  One school puts their middle schoolers into “houses” like in Harry Potter.  I kind of like this idea but if I get the house with the banner that does not agree with me what will I do?;)

I have one of my interviews on Monday which is Memorial Day.  Now this is a dedicated school!  I’m ok with going in on that day.  I have had a good vacation year so going in on Monday will seem like no big deal to me.  What I wonder is if this school is day crazy and they work on days that the average teacher has always had off.  Hey, I became a teacher to have my summers off.  Do not let any teacher fool you when they say that they hate summer.  We need that break and the kids need that break as much as we do.  It’s human nature, we all need our own time and space.

I will soon know what I will be doing come August of 2018.  I am ready to teach again and I hope that I have somewhere to do that.  Time will tell and I will tell you.IMG_4477

Chapter 11 – My True Calling

I have not been teaching this year.  I was let go from my teaching position because I did my job but according to a person that had no idea how I taught or how I was meant to be a teacher I was let go.  Why?  I wrote a letter, oh I am sorry, I sent an email of my letter.

About 4 years ago, the diocese, I guess, decided that every teacher had to have the hours that would make them able to teach religion.  People in charge believed that every teacher should be able to teach religion.  For four years I would go to my principal at the beginning of the school year and I would ask if I had to take all of the hours since I did not teach religion because I did not have students during first period which was set as the time where the entire school was scheduled for religion class.  I was given the answer that I did not have to take the extra hours by both of my principals.  The last year when I asked I was told, ” No LaBolt, why would you take those extra hours, Ms. F is already certified.  She will teach religion.”  By the way, there was a curse word thrown in there but I am going to quote the response nicely.  Once again I went back to my own teaching and was relieved that I did not have to become a certified catechist.  Why?  Honestly it is not my calling.  By the way, my one mistake is that I never got that response in writing.  If I had I would have been an episode for sure when LA Law returns!

I went on with my science teaching and everything was aligned with how each school year moves along.  We taught through the heat of August because we start the first week of August in 100 degree temperatures, we move on to September, we get to work into October and at the end of this month we get to dress up for Halloween.  Yep, in the Catholic Schools we still get to celebrate and dress for Halloween.  We move into November and then the Thanksgiving Break is upon us.  We get an entire week off to eat to our hearts desire.  We then have two or three short weeks left and the first semester and the Christmas Break is upon us all.

It was at this time right before Christmas Break when we had a meeting and eleven of us were kept behind after a regular scheduled teacher’s meeting.  As we all met at a singled out table I remember looking around and thinking that all of the “good” teachers were in this group so it had to be good news.  My instincts were wrong for this one time.  We were all told that since we were going through an acredidation that everyone sitting there had to finish their 170 hours of catechism training classes by May or we were not to be given a contract for the following school year.  What? When did this happen?  Why weren’t we told this previously?

Let me first put this into perspective with the hours needed.  I went to a four year university, the University of Akron, Go Zips!  I majored in Biology and minored in Earth Science and would be graduating with a degree in Secondary Education.  If I look at my credit hours to obtain this, there are about 156 credit hours.  I took classes that the Pre Med majors were taking and classes that the Civil Engineers were taking.  I had some classes that I had to really work at.  Did you ever take Genetics or Organic Chemistry at the college level?  Throw in some Paleontology and some Soil and Water classes and tell me what you think.  I worked hard in those FOUR years to pass with a B average to graduate in 4.5 years.  I did do my student teaching during a fall semester, it wasn’t my fault that mono delayed two classes.  Schist happens!

So now as I am sitting listening that I needed to obtain 170 hours of instruction by May.  I asked the question that everyone at that table was thinking.  “Why were we not told that we had three years to do this and who told you that?”  The superintendent of the Galveston/Houston diocese was the giver of this news to our principal.  Our principal did say that she was going to get a two year extension for us so I was feeling ok about this predicament.  Of course I also asked, “You told me that I did not have to take all of these hours.  I have 24 hours of credits because I have gone to the classes on teacher in-service days.  What am I supposed to do?”  My principal said that she would ask for the extension and that it would be ok.

Here is the “funny” part.  I looked around and noticed that the new teachers were not with any of us and the non-Catholic teachers were not there either.  Of course I asked why they were not with us and I was told, “Oh they have three years to finish and if they are not Catholic they only have to get 60 hours.”  “Wait they only have to take 60 hours? Well then sign me up as non-Catholic!”  That was not an option!  I also stated that I had proof that I did not have to take these hours.  I had a sticker on my personal teaching folder that states that I am not required to take religious hours.  (I have uploaded this picture proof for you.)

Look I love teaching in a Catholic School and I will fulfill any job that is asked of me.  My problem was that we were never told that we had to take all of the hours in a matter of three or four years.  (To this day no one can tell me if the time restraint is three or four years, none of the “rules” are clear.)   I never have had the calling to teach religion and I do not want to be a catechist.  Believe me, there are people out there who are great at teaching religion.  Should all teachers be able to teach science or math or history or language arts?  If we all could teach all of these subjects then why do any of us choose to major or minor in what interests us through college?  I was not meant to be a religion teacher, it truly is not my calling.  I was not called to be a nun, I am not allowed to be a priest or a deacon, and I do not have the call to teach religion.

This whole process bothered me so I went to my principal and she also said that I should be annoyed.  I told her that I was going to write a letter to the superintendent and she told me that she did not blame me for doing this.  I composed that letter in one day, had a few teacher friends read it, and I pushed that send button.  Oh I forgot that I had to get the email address from my principal because if you search on the diocese website it is no where to be found.

I waited and waited for a response to my letter.  I asked a few people if they thought that it was weird to wait that long for a response and they said to just wait it out.  I never got a response of any kind.  I continued to teach and then it was contract time once again for the following school year.  The Catholic Schools go year to year with contracts.  Every May we have a meeting with the principal and we are told whether we have been asked to stay or to maybe teach at a different level.  I have always been told within five minutes to sign the contract for the next year.

I went to my contract renewal time and sat down with the principal and the assistant principal.  Right away I was told that they were told to not renew my contract because of my letter!  Wait, she read my letter and did not have the decency to respond?  Yes I was told.  You have got to be kidding me.  I had to leave teaching because my principal(s) did not have me take the hours for catechism training AND because I wrote a letter stating my case I was told that I could not return.  My principal told me that I was a great teacher and that I would find somewhere else to teach!  The assistant principal asked me what I thought I would do next year!  I should have responded that I was either going to become a pole dancer or would start writing my sign for standing out on the sides of the many highways in Houston.  My sign would read:  I’m a great teacher in science but because I was told that I HAD to teach religion I am asking for your offering.  I simply walked out of that office, they both had no backbone in which to fight for my staying at St. Rose.

I said goodbye to my students ahead of the actual end of the year because I wanted them to know that I did not get fired and I did not quit.  They asked me why I had to leave.  I told them that they wanted me to get 170 hours in religious education.  The students in all of my classes questioned this by saying, “But you do not teach religion!”  See, kids are smart!

My principal at one point did suggest to me, as she walked through my room, that maybe she would hire me as part time.  Part time teachers do not have to fulfill any religious education hours.   She never sat down with me to work out such a schedule.  Oh wait she did tell the soon to be new superintendent that I was offered this.  I was not.  As I write this, this story is still unbelievable to me and to others that I have told that are not in the teaching field.

I left St. Rose.  There were other teachers who did not follow their teaching contracts and they were allowed to stay.  The “rules” that they did not follow were, well let me leave it as this:  Do you think that all teachers should have a teaching degree and also that maybe just maybe they should be married if they are going to have a child?  Shouldn’t all Catholic teachers live with their “boyfriends” after they are married?  Well I guess when you do not follow those rules you are really not harming any rules of living in the Christian way.   This IS in our contracts.

I did call two lawyers and they told me that I was correct in that employees cannot be given two different set of rules to follow.  It is not legal for the non-Catholic teachers to only attain 60 hours of training while the Catholic teachers have to achieve the 170 hours.  Both lawyers told me that because of one line in the contract stating that anything that is asked of you as an employee can be asked.  “So if they ask for your first born they can do that?”  The answer was , “YES”.

I still cannot believe that a religious entity has made a contract that is so flexible in that they basically can make you do anything that they see fit.  I’m hoping that they outlaw flip flops in January.  They do not see that as slightly weird for a teacher to wear.  I’ve seen it and it is not pretty.

I believe that everything happens for a reason.  I have stayed home this year and I was able to take my son to Texas Tech for his last semester.  I helped him move into his new apartment and that was nice.  I was able to visit my daughter in NYC in the fall before it got really cold during Christmas.  I was able to travel to Ohio three times to help my mom and dad.  I have had a long year off and guess what?  I like it but I am ready to go back to teaching.  I am ready to go back to my calling, I am a Middle School Science Teacher!  I have been interviewing and since there is a new superintendent, yes the one that made me leave decided in August that she had to mysteriously move on, I am once again looking for a Catholic school in which to teach science in.  I have the faith that I will be teaching by August and will be meeting some new friends and will be able to help new students on to their journey to high school.

I have uploaded my letter that I sent to speak my mind in how I was not told the correct information for how to stay employed in the diocese.   You may want to take this into consideration if something like this happens to you.  Would I do it again?  Yes I would because I believe in speaking out when you know something is not correct and that it not only affects you but everyone else.  Hold on, you do not think that I let that superintendent just get rid of me with no reply did you?  I have also uploaded my 2nd letter that I sent to her at the end of that school year.  Once again, she did not have the politeness to respond to someone who she denied a contract to through her principal disciples.  I guess I can say that I did have the last word!

The new superintendent has got in touch with me and did apologize for what had happened.  Because of her getting in touch with me by phone, I have the faith that this year off was really meant to be and hopefully I can once again teach where I know I am meant to be.   I am meant to be a science teacher in a Catholic School.  It will happen, I will keep in touch.

Amen and Keep on TeachingvRUEoSdIT+WYjW+P1DvY7g

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