Thursday, May 19, 2011

School Days

Early Picture ('40's) of my high school (West Fulton - Blue Owls)

***Warning! This is a little long and rambling, but it’s been on my mind lately…and I rarely talk about shit that's on my mind.  So either read it and try not to fall asleep, or go on to the next blog.  I’ll see ya later when I post some more funnies.***

As y'all know, these next few weeks will be end of the school year and some of you will have sons or daughters graduating or being promoted to the next grades.  Congratulations to all of you – even the parents for all your contributions and support.  All of you rock.  Sadly I never had that.

I have been reading some of your blogs where you have been praising the teachers.  Not me!   

I have a love/hate thing when it comes to teachers.  I know that there are many loving, dedicated teachers out there who are a credit to your profession and a great mentor and roll model to the kids.   One was my friend and former shipmate in the Navy, Johnny Yearwood, who came home, went to college and became a teacher.  In his obit, students and former students commented on how he had changed their lives.  Teachers can do that.  Sadly I never had that either…accept one.

On the hate side, there are also some lousy, dead weight people who stand in front of a classroom who have the title of teacher, and do nothing but teach what the liberal boards tell them to teach, facts and changes in events be dammed, and never get involved with their student's lives.  Sad they are protected by a useless union (but that's fodder for another blog post.)

School and I didn’t get along too well.  I was always in trouble for talking, fidgeting and stuff.  I wasn't a bad kid, I just couldn’t keep quiet (does that surprise anyone?).  I would wonder how come I was always in trouble and my classmates weren’t.  But I always seem to be the one who got caught.  And no teacher ever pulled me aside and asked why?   

No teacher ever bragged on anything I accomplished – a rare thing for me to spend the time and effort in doing the extra stuff to begin with.  For example, I once had an assignment in the 7th grade to make a diorama of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.  I had a set of civil war soldiers, half blue and half gray.  I got 50 of them, 25 on each side and painted them…face colors, back or brown for shoes, packs and blankets, silver for the gun barrels, etc.  Built a mound of dirt and put real tree branches for trees, placed toy cannons on he mountain, the whole thing.  It was so big and heavy I had to put it in a wagon and pull it to school.  It took almost a week to put it together.  I got a B.  A fucking B.  I said I would never go to that extreme again.  And I didn't!

This was the same teacher I punched out, read about it here.  But this grade was before the incident.  However, she did make it a point to tell me, in front of the whole class, that I wasn't being promoted to high school, but was just being placed.  Great for the self-esteem, don't ya think?

I had my problems in high school, but I didn’t punch out any teachers.  And, as usual, I was still confused as to why I couldn’t make good grades or stay out of trouble.  Again, not teacher ever ask why…they just handed out demerits that cause me to do the ‘Breakfast Club’ thing after school.  Every summer was spent in summer school.

Then came my senior year and one teacher, Mr. Clower, pulled me out of a class one day and talked to me in the hall.  I had his class for Bookkeeping (Accounting now days) and did alright there.  It seemed that I was failing ART.  ART for Christ sake!  No test!  No reading! Just drawing and making clay ashtrays that looked more like cow patties than anything else.  But, again, I was on her shit list.  I think it had something to do with a drawing assignment.  We had to draw some different poses of our hands.  I drew one pose in each corner and one big one in the middle of the page and, yep, you guessed it, it was of my hand giving the bird.  Art is art, right?

Anyintervening, Mr. Clower went to bat for me and I was able to graduate.   He knew I was planning on going into the Navy and that, hopefully, would give a step up in life.  He was right.  The Navy made a big difference in my life and how I saw myself.

But by this time I had really built up a chip on my shoulder and I gave him some wise ass comment.  He bowed up, pushed me against the wall and stuck his finger in my face and told me that he would let me fail if that’s what I wanted.  But he thought I was better than what others were seeing.  No teacher had ever said anything like that to me in my life.  I stood there stunned while he walked off.  I graduated (or was I placed again?)!

Back in the 50’s and 60’s no one knew what ADHD was, other than we were lazy and always in trouble.  My parents, who never tried anything other than spanking and who never worked in the school or PTA or anything, were told I was very smart but real lazy.  So I was raised thinking I was just a lazy trouble maker.

Anyways, after I got my college degree I wanted to find Mr. Clower and tell him thank you from the bottom of my heart.  But he had died the year before.   

I just hope he knew that he had made a difference in one student.  One that regrets he never got to tell him.

I do wonder what would have happen if I had one or two of the great teachers early on.  I’ll never know!
Congratulations, thought, to all of you who are making the grade.

And thank you to all the great teachers out there.  You do make a difference.
As for the dead weight teachers, I hope you loose your job, and end up homeless and die in a cardboard box.



Leontien said...

Great post and yes THANK YOU to all the teachers who care!!!


Ragtop lady said...

Good post Coffeypot, and a great picture of the school - love it - and hey, you turned out all right, never forget that !!!!!

Paxford said...

Thank you for this post Coffeypot - I'm glad you got that one special teacher.

I can still remember "mine" - 4th grade and I *detested* reading (borrrring!). She began to read to us every week - a chapter at a time of storeis like "charlie & the chocolate factory" and "Charlotte's web" - I wanted to know so badly what happened next that I taught myself how to enjoy books and reading... Best lesson ever :)

So some leave a lasting effect - and some should have just left (yeah.. had my share of stinkers - Sister Mary "you're going to hell" springs to mind from my senior year.


Momma Fargo said...

Thank goodness for Mr. Clower. :) gave thanks afterall. There are great teachers and I am thankful for those...the bad ones are like bad cops..ruin it for everyone and impact the kids more than they know. They should be weeded just like any good gardener would.

AirmanMom said...

I too, have a heartful of thanks for the good teachers. After raising four children, one with ADD and many learning see the good and the ugly...the caring and the non-caring. As a parent, it's tough to remember that teaching is a profession...and all professions have those who excel and those who do not. Sadly, this profession has life-long effects on those who they deal with. CPA's and Accountants can have a bad day or make mistakes and the world will continue to turn...since those errors are always able to be fixed.
Good, thought provoking post!

james austin said...

John I had a simalar story. I remember Mr Clower. I had coach Redman. I was kept back in the third grade just because I was left handed and Mrs Harding did not have time to teach me how to write even tho Mrs Willis told her to pass me after an oral exam.( I hope Mrs Harding is rotting in hell). My mother had them keep me and my Brother back in the 7th so we were told because she thought we were not ready for highschool. ( talk about family support)I never had any one pull me aside to tell me to get my act together.

Ed said...

Tell us how you REALLY feel, John.


I had many great teachers.

I was still a lazy trouble maker.


Heather said...

I am a teacher. After being in high school for 17 extra years I have seen teachers on both ends of the spectrum.
It is always good though to be reminded that there are some kids out of the 250 we see daily we can really make an impact on.

Aleta said...

This was sad but beautiful, in that one person could make a difference and did. But horrible about the other experiences. My Mom is a teacher. She's retired/returned. The principal keeps asking my Mom to return the next year. Your parents would have had conversations with my Mom if you were in her class back then. She's someone who cares and would go the extra steps. I've had my share of bad teachers in grammar and high school. They have to know the influence and the importance of their jobs.... it's the children of the future.

Anonymous said...

I think you should talk about things that are on your mind more often. I really enjoy those types of posts from you.

I've had many teachers who were less than stellar and a few great ones. My poor kids have had some real losers.

Thank you to all the really good teachers out there! They are truly making a difference in our kids' lives.

Citizen Soldier said...

Great post thanks for sharing. It was nice to see the other side of Coffeypot and not just the funny side. We need great teachers who love there jobs and not just call it a job and don't care. I have a few great teachers I go to church with. Kids need people in there lives to give them encouragement not discouragement. Again thanks for sharing.