Thursday, April 30, 2009


2 years of work wrapped up in a 15 minute presentation - and that included the Q&A period.  I'm done, I watched them sign the papers as they congradulated me.  I can't beleive it's over, yet I feel unnervingly relaxed anyway.  Thanks for listening and commenting and all the support over the last 2 years.  WHEW! I'm done.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One down, one to go.

Presentation #1 a success.  And I'm all ready for tomorrow.  24 hours from now I'll be a Master of Education!
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They day after....

If nothing else, last night gave our students the feeling that they could be heard. Student morale was up, talk about who said what and how good this person was filled the halls and classrooms. It was good to see, as the week since the original announcement has been somewhat somber.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Now we just wait.

Well, the public hearing is over. It went really well, I was happy that there wasn't any personal slamming like people, from a certain alternative high school I won't mention, did on the SL Trib website. Valid concerns from both sides, and even though I don't agree with the opposition (one of which is a good friend of mine) at least it was done with respect. Only down part was that the president of the school board still ended the meeting with the old "we have to make hard decisions and I could make a case for all the programs we had to cut" comment, which leaves me feeling they've already decided. No matter what, I'll end up somewhere, and I'll make the best of it. For a year at least, until the openings for 2010-2011 come out and I can find an opening somewhere I really want to be. Gotta thank my Dad for the Math background.
Now we just wait until next Tuesday when they vote on it.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

CRT Faux-pas

We're in the middle of the CRT tests, those fun end of the year tests.  They switched companies this year, so the program is a lot different than before, but we're dealing with it fine.  Once you get the students all logged in to the system, you open up a testing session and give them a 5 letter code to access the test.  Today this code came up:
Not exactly the code I'd write up on the board in a secondary school.  Fortunately our testing coordinator was smart enough to shut that session down and open up a new one.  I think that one was KQXQK, a fairly innocous one....

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Me n ppt 4 eva

It's been a week and a half of PowerPoint presentations.  I spent 40+ hours on the presentation to the school board, and right after that I find out that I have to produce one for each of my classes this semester.  Yup, two more.  I have to present to my Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) class the process I went through to refine my Capstone Project, to find errors and problems with navigating the web site.  I also get to defend my Capstone Project to a panel of professors for my Master's degree, kind of like defending a thesis paper.  Fun schtuff.  The good news is that I have the web site AND the two presentations DONE!  (Wanna check out the final project, just click Capstone Project.)  I do still have two papers to finish, one I haven't even started, but at least I'm ready to present for both classes.  Yea!  That relieves about 33.427% of the stress I'm under these days.
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Friday, April 24, 2009

I yam exhausted.

Tuesday night was fun.  So much so that I couldn't get to sleep until after midnight.  Which means Wednesday was a lot of fun, running on 4 hours of sleep.  I faked it pretty well until half way through the last period of the day.  We were reviewing for the CRTs (end of year tests mandated by No Child Left Behind) and I wasn't keeping track of things too well.  I was making blunder after blunder, the students kept correcting me when I decided this was ridiculous, I was doing more un-teaching than teaching. Fortunately the students understood why, a bunch of them were down at the board meeting, and were sympathetic.  So I said I'm done and we just looked up make up work for students that were concerned about their grade.  That night I got home from my university class right around 8:30 and went straight to bed.  Head, meet pillow, zzzzzzzzz.  Got a full 8 hours of sleep that night and last night, but I'm still drained from this emotional roller coaster I'm on.  We've heard from many different people across the district that our presentation was exceptional (up), somebody heard one of the board members say that we're just trying to save our jobs (down), kids are planning march on the district offices the afternoon before the public meeting (up), board is just going through the motions because legally they have to do all this (down), gut feeling they're going to keep us open (up), gut feeling they're going to close us down (down).  The board won't vote on it until a week from Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo.  I'm prepared for either decision right now, I'm just not very good at the not knowing.
Oh, and did I mention I have to be prepared to defend my Master's Capstone Project next week.  Yeah.  I truly hope I survive the next 2 weeks.......

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Time to update the resume.

It's still not 100%, but from the tone of today's Board meeting I'm seriously discouraged. Thanks to everyone for the wishes for a successful presentation, by all means it was an excellent one. We made them laugh, we made them cry, and the audience gave us a hearty applause at the end. As a matter of fact I would have said it was flawless, shy of one incident, caused by an unnecessary and selfish staff member.
You may have remembered me mentioning a counselor that we got stuck with, because she caused friction wherever she went and the district felt my principal would be the one to handle her. And for a year and a half we did. She had other counselors in tears. She alienated the half of the faculty she came in contact with. She had zero (0, none, nill, nada, nyente) tact when it came to dealing with me and technology issues. But we tolerated her because 99% of the time we she was sequestered in a small corner of the building and we had no contact with her. Did I mention that she is a counselor. Except for during Teacher Appreciation week, when she conviently decided she's a teacher. Because at our school she's really neither. She's also one of those people that insists being called by her title, as in Dr.____, not just Ms.____, or by her first name.
Anyway, we had an awesome presentation, and the principle was wrapping up the whole thing. She mentioned that we have only one counselor, and one intern that is paid for out of one of our high risk grants. At this point this (ahem) counselor starts waving her arms, saying something I didn't hear. She did get the attention of one of the board members who asks the principal again how many counselors we have, saying 'isn't it three?' The principal first tries to deflect it with comments about how this person doesn't have any student load, so they are effectively not a counselor at our school. Another member on the board comes back with 'but you do have three counselors'. This is when our response should have been 'yeah, but you foisted her on us bacause no one else could handle her shit!', but instead we heard 'that was a district decision, we didn't request another counselor'. This is where the board member has the chutzpah, (that's yiddish for cahones) to say 'That isn't true'. Again, we should have returned with 'you lying two faced son of a coyote', but instead my principal just said that they should discuss this some other time and continued on with her closing.
I'm glad that we got the chance to make our case. I'm proud of the presentation we made and I'm proud that we did not just sit back and let things happen to our school. But I can't help feeling defeated.
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Tonight's the night....

So, I've spent the last week or so with several other teachers coming up with a presentation we'll be giving to the school board today.  Anyone who has worked with my principal before knows that coming up with something like this means revision after revision after revision after....up until the 11th hour.  It's gonna knock their socks off.  Is it going to do any good?  Well, it will be at least 2 weeks before we even get a glimmer of the results.  Then we either rejoice or start looking for other positions.  I'm lucky.  I've got 16 years of experience, a Math degree, a Technology degree and quite a few sources for references.  I just want to end up somewhere close to home, the commute across the valley to Magna is not something I want back.  Anyway, sometime around 8:00 this evening I'll be giving my 2 1/2 minute piece of the presentation to the board.
Let ya know how it goes.....
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pinky and the BrainDead.

I tried doing homework. I really tried. But my brain is fried. It can't think of anything other than this presentation we have on Tuesday. At least I got through the flowchart for my capstone project. One down and, um, I'm not even sure how many more to go. A couple-3. Whatever. I've still got over a week, and frankly, I could present it today and I'd still get my Master's Degree. It will just be nice when I can sleep again. I had a dream the other night, right after the news of the possible school closure. I was in my new classroom. It was in the basement, more like the bowels of the school. The floor was ripped up, the walls were wet, moldy and rust stained. And there was a huge furnace going full blast on one side of the room. It was like a scene out of the Matrix. Not a good scene either. And the Drama teacher's room was right next door. But at least my room was huge, cavernous. Anyway, thank God for Excedrin PM. Cheerio.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Corporate America ain't for me.

.....Now that it's been on the news, I can write about what is public knowledge. Wednesday our principal called an emergency faculty meeting right after school. Just like 3 years ago, they're trying to shut down the school I teach at, and considering the current fiscal situation there is a good chance it's going to happen. Enough of a chance that she asked the powers that be what she can promise her staff concerning placement afterwards and passed that information on to us. Provisional teachers, ones who have been teaching less 3 years or less, are assured that they will still have jobs, those of us who are tenured, been teaching longer than 3 years, are guaranteed placement somewhere.
.....If you have been following my website long enough, you know that I took the job here knowing they wanted to close the school down. You may also know that I've moved around in my career a bit, by choice, so the possibility of changing schools again does not scare me. I've got 14 more years before I can retire and there never was a doubt in my mind that I wouldn't change schools at least a couple times before then.
.....Add to that the fact that as a Math teacher, I'm sure to have some choice in where I end up. Still, I wasn't ready to move on yet, and at the risk of sounding like Reverend Lovejoy's wife, I'm concerned about how well our students will do in a big high school. Over the 3 years we have been a school of around 300 students, we have had many that have tried a large school and have come back. Many of them will be required to travel 6 miles to their home school, where they are used to just walking around the block right now.
.....Anyway, we've been given the task of presenting our defense to the school board next week. Four teachers and I have spent all our free time in the conference room producing a presentation. After day 1 of 6 hours in a room culling through documentation, I decided I really do love teaching. 3 hours into today, day 2, when the principal walked in and asked how we were doing, the science teacher and I clutched our heads and said, at the same time and without prior discussion, "I think my head's going to explode."
.....So, if you wonder why you don't hear from me for the next two weeks, here's my schedule:

  • This Tuesday : present to school board, and I actually have to make part of the presentation

  • Wednesday : Human-Computer Interface (HCI) Class

  • Thursday : Advanced Instructional Design Class

  • Next Tuesday : public hearing on my school's closure

  • Wednesday : Final presentation for HCI

  • Thursday : Final presentation for Master's Capstone Project
And in between all that : Teach, fix computers and prepare for all of the above. Yea!
Oh, and did I mention I have to go out and buy some nice pants 'cause jeans aren't nice enough to address the board? (The principal told me that I had to wear a tie - and then started laughing because she knew that would never happen!)
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Monday, April 13, 2009


Thanks for all the happy birthday wishes; here, email, phone and cards. It's not even noon yet, but it's been a great day so far. Stayed in bed watching DVD's until 10, then went to the couch to watch some more. Realxing. I got all the cleaning, homework and laundry done this weekend so I'd be able to do nothing today. I got this great card from my neice and her husband, click on the picture to see the inside.
Anyway, thank you everybody, and I hope you're all having a great day too....
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Old Picture of the Day

This was the shelves at the front of my classroom back in '97.  As you can see, I drank a lot of Dr. Pepper back in those days.  Heath issues have forced me to change my ways.  Now I drink just as much Diet Coke with Lime.
At the end of the school year I used to let the students crush all the cans for recycling.  We'd line them up and the kids would jump on them.  My room isn't right over the Counseling Center anymore, which takes all the fun out of it.
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Just because.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Gnome alone in a small world after all.

My house is old enough that my doorbell isn't hardwired, it's wireless.  Which means I've gotten used to it ringing once in a while with nobody at the door.  No ding & ditch, because it's happened when I was sitting on the front porch.  Probably someone opening their garage door on the same frequency.  I dunno.  Anyway, about noon today the doorbell goes off and by the time I get there there's nobody at the door.  Not unusual, except for the garden gnome sitting on the porch table looking right at me.  I started looking around to see who had left it there, couldn't see anyone anywhere and thought they got out of there pretty quick.  Then I started to wonder if it was left there a while ago, and the doorbell ringing had nothing to do with it.  Hmm, weird.  So, I have no idea when it showed up.  I don't remember seeing it there yesterday, but I usually leave the house out the back door and might have missed it.  For all I know it's been sitting there all week and I just never noticed it.  No note, no indication who left it there, like he just walked up on his own and decided to move in.  Curious.
..... In class yesterday I was talking about living in Seattle for 6 months when I was in 6th grade.  My professor overheard and said that she went to Eckstein Middle school when she was living there, and was curious about if I went to the same school.  I couldn't remember, but did remember that I had to walk up and down a few hills to get there, one of which we called "slug hill".  So, thanks to Google maps, we looked up Seattle and the school, I figured out the general area we lived in and decided it had to be the same school, because of where it was at compared to where we lived.  One more great Google device, street view, and it was confirmed - at least it looked really familiar.  So, what are the odds that 2 people raised on the east coast, now living in Salt Lake City would have attended the same middle school in Seattle a decade and a half apart?  I don't know.  That was a rhetorical question.
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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Um, yes, but no.

Anyone who has taught with me knows that I teach with a Diet Coke in one hand (before my pre-diabetes diagnosis, it was Dr. Pepper).  In my classroom I have a few 12 packs that I put the empties in, which I will eventually bring home and recycle.  A student asked if he could have one of my sodas, pointing at what he thought were full 12 packs.  I go, yeah, sure, take a whole 12 pack, and hand him one.  As soon as he takes hold of it, he realizes they're empty and tells me I drink a lot of soda.  Another student, with the same first name as me, says "Yeah, you've got a drinking problem" one, two three, four, " and a coke problem."
Oh, the picture?  It's from my walk around Sugarhouse Park yesterday, and a little break from homework playing with Macromedia Fireworks.  For those of you who don't know, despite being a landlocked state, our official State bird is the seagull.  Something about saving them Latter-Day Saint pioneers from the crickets. 
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Monday, April 06, 2009

Not a bad day.

The weather is great today.  I didn't need a coat on the way to school, turned the swamp cooler on vent (no water, just fan) to air out the house, and even took the convertible out for a drive.  Then I laid on the back porch in shorts and a t-shirt listening to the sounds of Sugarhouse, and just relaxed.  Niiiiice.  Good day.  And tomorrow is supposed to be nicer.  Maybe I'll drive the convertible to school?
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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hmmm, curiouser and curiouser.

I was in the back yard moving cars around when I heard it.  Same sound I hear once a month or so, the sound of metal intersecting with other metal, plastic breaking.  This was different, though.  It continued into the sound of metal being dragged along the pavement, the first thing that went through my mind was that someone was dragging a trailer without it's wheels.  I made it around the side of the house in time to see a silver truck that was new enough that it's indistinctiveness made it hard to identify, screeching down the road like it was running on a flat tire.  I think it was a Ford, but they all look alike now, and I was focused on the tire.  I went around the other side of the house and out front, expecting to see the hobbling truck on the side of the road just down the street, but it was nowhere in sight.  For some reason it was important enough to get out of the area that they were willing to drive on a flat tire.  Well, I was wrong.  It wasn't a flat tire, they lost the whole damn thing.  They really didn't want to hang around.  Honestly, I'm questioning my eyewitness account, because for the life of me I can't see how they could keep going, as fast as they were, without the front tire.  So, I'm thinking did I see the right truck?  Maybe it was another truck and I just thought it was the silver one?  But then I never did find the truck it came from, so what happened to it?  Then I thought mabye it dropped out of the back of a truck?  This is the most likely explanation, but I swear it sounded like the scraping sound was coming from the silver truck.  You know the Doppler Effect, the way the sound changes as it gets closer to you, passes you and gets farther away.  I swear it fit that silver truck.  But there's no sign of it on the pavement, no damage at all.
..... I'd suck as a witness.  The cops showed up a half hour later, the tire had been moved out of the road (that's when I took the picture).  They stuck around for a little while and left.  Good thing they didn't ask me what I saw.
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Thursday, April 02, 2009


This is it.  The final stretch.  The light at the end of the tunnel.  The 9th inning.  The 18th hole.  The winter of my content.  However you want to put it.  We went and picked up our graduation duds yesterday on the way to class.  Cost a lot less than I was expecting - $76 bucks, and that included extra for the red doohickey around my neck and a U of U Alumni license plate frame.  Now I just have to decide which car it's going to go on.
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