Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Boy, it's been a while!

In looking for a picture of his Borg-like arm, Craig reminded me that I had once blogged regularly. What a concept! Much has changed since last we wrote. Fiona turns five in less than a week, Rory is a first grader, and much more. Facebook has killed my blogging (video killed the radio star!), but I would like to start up again from time to time. Is anyone still reading??

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Today I hugged a student

There is a cardinal rule against such things, but today I hugged a student.

Nate. His name is Nate. I can't state his last name here, for obvious reasons, but I wanted his first name to be heard (or read, as the case may be).

When I started teaching 9th grade English - late, at the end of September - my long-term sub told me Nate was a loud-mouth, a troublemaker who talked all class long. I came in, ready to face off, to get him under control.

But my experience with Nate turned out to be quite opposite from the sub's, and Nate was doing very well in my class before he suddenly vanished in mid-November. At first, I thought he was sick, and then I received the now-dreaded email from Guidance. Nate was going to be out long-term, and did I have any work he could do from afar? I did, and sent home a few assignments. No rumors flew until last week, when another student - a friend of Nate's - told me he was transferring to another high school because he had been bullied.

I was - and remain - shocked. Nate doesn't seem the type to be on the receiving end of such behavior, but then again, I guess there IS no type when it comes to being bullied. Bullies want a reaction... and reactions grants them the power to bully more.

It turns out Nate (in addition to in-school bullying) had been followed home and harassed to the point where he tried to commit suicide. He told me that he was then institutionalized until quite recently, and his transfer to another local high school was impending.

Nate came in today to return his 9th grade English textbook. I was showing my class a movie, and he crept in under cover of darkness. Without even thinking, I jumped up and hugged him. Our loss is their gain, I told him. He told me about the bullying; it turns out that two of the propagators are students in other classes of mine. I told him the world needs more kids like him, and fewer like them. I really didn't know what to say, except that I would miss him.

And so off went Nate, hopefully to better climes. And not only will I miss him, I will have to face two students who I know contributed to his absence.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Teaching 9th graders

Two curious things happened on Monday with my students - 135 9th grade English students (honors, regular, and basic). Something curious happens every day, come to think of it, but Monday's episodes were extra interesting.

I typically arrive at school by 8:30 (classes start at 9:00 - gotta love this late-start high school!), and typically, a pile of students follow me - like a herd - from the hallway into my room. They linger until the first bell rings, chatting and catching up on homework. When the first bell rings, they scurry off to their classes (if they aren't in my first block class that day). During pre-school (preschool?) lingering on Monday, I caught one of my students copying homework from a completed homework worksheet onto his own empty one.

This was the first day back from a week-long holiday... so he had been given PLENTY of time to complete this small project. At the time I noticed the cheating, I was standing next to his desk and chatting with him, and then I looked down. "P.L., are you copying someone's homework?? Right *next* to me? While sitting next to the teacher's DESK???"

He looks up, mouth hanging open, and says, "I didn't think you'd care!" Zowie. My school considers such things to be honor code violations, so naturally I had to tell his history teacher. The history teacher told the principal, the kids got phone calls home, and both the copy-er and the copy-ee got in trouble. The kid who was copying later looked me in the eye and said, "I thought you were a bro, man! Bros always have each other's backs!!" Trust me when I say I didn't know what to say to that... I just laughed out loud.

To end that day, a student from my 8th block class showed up in my 7th block class... except that I didn't notice he wasn't supposed to be in that class. He was sitting off in one corner, chatting (which he normally doesn't do), and I kept asking him to keep it down. Kind of realizing that he wasn't sitting in his normal seat, I kept looking back to where he was supposed to be sitting, but it was occupied by other students. Then, halfway through class, he got up and left - which also didn't seem weird to me. It took me hours to realize he wasn't supposed to be there; another student actually had to point it out to me. All I have to say is, he must really like The House on Mango Street, because that's what we are reading right now and he got to study part of it twice!

Silly kids.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Camp Mayhew, Day 1

Hello strangers!

Long time no blog. My Masters classes at GMU ended about two weeks ago, and only now has my desire to blog returned. I have had no time to do anything since January, and blogging completely fell off the radar. But I am done with my GMU classes for the summer, my pulse is returning to normal, and my need for communication has been reawakened!

First update
: I am getting my M.Ed. to teach secondary school English. As we speak, my provisional license paperwork is in the hands of the Commonwealth, and my official documents should arrive soon. Then I can get a full-time teaching job! The license covers grades 6-12. I had an interview about 1.5 weeks ago at Farmwell Station Middle School (Ashburn) very "teacher-ish" throughout. That said, if they interview someone with similar credentials to me - but that person has had a year of teaching - they would likely be hired before me. What a cruel world!

Second update: Rory & Fiona are home with me for the entire month of August. I am calling it "Camp Mayhew," and we have plenty of fun activities and vacations planned! Today was Day 1, and let's just say it got off to a rough start. I don't know how these full-timers do it. Is there training? I feel like I need shock therapy. Fiona was full of vim and vigor for much of the day, and nearly pestered Rory and me into submission. As I type, there is a large margarita next by my side. Tequila is life-giving.

Third update: Craig is in Arizona doing work for v3 Imaging, with whom he has been working for 2+ years. He left on 26 July (Rory's 5th birthday), and likely won't be back until 8/14. Oy. If only Amazon shipped tequila!

TTY tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

And did I mention?

One reason I have been too busy to blog is that I am in a Master's program at GMU to get a degree in secondary education. In English! Teaching writing, reading, literature - you name it! Classes started in January, and I am in heaven... despite the copious amounts of work. And I do mean copious. Enjoyable, but copious!

I have never taken Master's-level classes before, and have thus far noticed two distinct differences. First, every single person in each class is SO plugged in, literally hanging on the professor's every word. In undergrad, not everyone in your classes was totally "into" the topic, so to speak. Even business majors had to take English, right? But now, it is radically different (read: awesome and inspiring). And fun! And relevant!

The second big difference is that the professors seem to treat you differently at this level. You're not just a young punk trying to get a degree. You're often working, raising a family, AND going to school. So not to say they let some things slide, but they let you make your own decisions. Kinda radical!

Man, do I stink!

Not from body odor. At blogging! I think FB has ruined me. Following is a picture of my three peeps on Fiona's third birthday (2/13). Aren't they cute as the dickens??

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Tree & First Snow, 2009

This is our first tree ever! After eight years of marriage (during which we spent most holidays in New England), we decided that 2009 was the year to buy a tree. The girls are old enough not to decimate it TOO much, and as for the four cats... well, we shall see! The tree is currently ensconced on the deck (being snowed on as we speak), and we will put it up sometime next week. We won't decorate it for a few days, to get furry (and non-furry) children accustomed to its presence, and then we will go wild. BTW, we bought our tree at the Herndon "Elvis" lot. The tree seller has been there, with that same sign, for like 22 years, and the sign cracks me up every year, sad to say.

As for the snow, well, this was our first of the year (early for VA!), and it is a pile of wet, sticky wonderment. Perfect for snowballs and snowmen! And perfect for two little girls. =)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Gate Comes Down

Big progress to report in the Mayhew household! This afternoon, Craig removed the baby gate at the top of the main stairs (the stairs leading onto the main level of the townhouse). The wooden structure, hand-designed/built by a neighbor to keep their child from tumbling down into the basement, has been a mainstay until quite recently.

Rory is almost 4.5, and Fiona is coming up on 3, and the gate started seeming superfluous. Moreover, it started becoming annoying - just another thing to thwart me from easily bringing groceries up to the kitchen.

The cats - and the girls - barely know what to do with the extra space.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The New Subaru

Here we have the newest Mayhew family member (I am talking about the car, in case that wasn't clear). It is a 2010 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium, charcoal gray, 6-speed manual. It has a sunroof and a 6-disc CD changer (so the girls and I can both have music queued up and ready to go). I am in heaven. I love it. I love driving a stick again (as crazy as that sounds), and the car has plenty of room for the family and all our accoutrement.

Fiona was with me throughout the entire buying process (much of which is quite boring). I took this picture so in seven years - when she is almost ten years old - we can look back and enjoy the fact that I have had the same car ALL that time.

I am just so tickled with how well the car drives. I think its name is going to be Nigel, but I will formally decide after driving to Connecticut for Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bye Bye Minivan

This morning, I sold my Honda minivan to Carmax. It served me very well during the early years of the girls' lives... when the sliding doors were crucial to actually *getting* them into the car; when the back space held two strollers (one single, one double); when car storage was critical in terms of holding the various stuff that mothers schlep (pack and plays, diapers, you name it).

But those days are behind us, and I never really loved the car. I felt very conspicuous in it... like a MINIVAN driver. Plus, it was my first automatic, and I found it very confusing not to reach for the clutch. Plus, it weighed 4500 lbs and was difficult (for me) to stop. Plus, we only have two kids AND much less stuff to drag around now that they're older. Plus...well, let's just say I never really loved the car.

Wait - there IS another plus. I needed to lower my car payment. Dramatically. And how.

So today I returned to land of Subaru. I bought a 2010 Subaru Outback, 6-speed manual. My car lives in South Carolina at the moment, and is being driven to Virginia early next week. In the meantime, I have a loaner (same breed, but an automatic) to get me by.

I am thrilled to have lowered my payments, and I feel less horrible to the environment at the same time. This car has better mileage, and weighs more than a thousand pounds less. Nice.