Been a While, Crocodile
I forget a lot of things, but I can’t forget my elementary school bus driver. Every morning, he would greet us with a smile. He had the best taste in music and when he would drop us off, he always said, “See you later, alligator!” No idea what his name was. Never thought to ask. I couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old, but I’ll always remember that bus driver. The peace I felt on that bus was truly divine.
Neuroplasticity and Me
I was in second grade. My brother, one year older, played baseball at recess beneath a huge oak tree. I was wearing my favorite hand-me-down dress from two cousin back that had metal buttons shaped like stars.
Jackie Ferrel came up to bat. He was tall for his age, with slicked back black hair like Elvis and farm-strong arms. The first ball was caught firm in my brother’s glove. Smack! The second pitch hit clean and far. Flinging the bat to the side, Jackie raced for first.
The next thing I know, recess is over. I am laying on the grass. Blood flowing down my hair, face, seeping down my dress. The little stars shining red and wet.
My daddy comes but doesn’t let me sit on the front seat of the car. I curl up on the rubber mat in front of the bench seat careful not to get blood on daddy’s upholstery.
The doctor confounded. He pours something that stings enough to make me cry on my head in an effort to try to find the wound amongst all the blood and hair. He finds it and sews two stitches on the top left of my head. He says the bat caused a concussion.
Sometime soon afterwards, my grades fell. The teacher called me uncooperative and lazy. I just knew I could no longer read right. I didn't mean to but saw numbers and letters backwards. Education important to my family, my mother spent every evening with flash cards. I’d see 32. The card said 23. I’d say 32 and get slapped until I said the right number. I told my mother I hated her. My second-grade teacher told her if I didn’t come around, I be sent to Taylor, the school for retarded kids, no political correctness back then.
My third-grade teacher, knew and understood. Instinctively, she gave me big sheets of white construction paper and let me draw. She took me aside at recess, lunch time and after school. She had me draw three trees and then cover up one with her hand. How many are left? I told her two. She nodded. After that, she let me draw my book reports and math assignments. One day I was chosen to letter, draw and pick all the colored paper for an entire bulletin board by myself. The big one in the front hall across from the principal’s office.
By sixth-grade, my damaged left frontal lobe shifted all on its own to process things through my healthy right frontal lobe, a phenomenon not fully discovered until 1964, when Marian Diamond of the University of California, Berkeley, produced the first scientific evidence of anatomical brain plasticity in what is now known as a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
k-12 ... also I have a kidney stone so I am not gonna edit which is funny since this is about school.
1. I served two 4 year terms as an elected official in k-12 public in my area, Eight years fighting for kiddos and young adults who were never endingly treated like trash, and the ‘premium’ district’s staff were / are 65% shite.
Memories from education that stayed with me
1st grade teacher was my first crush, I really loved her dearly.
4th grade teacher hated me and I had asked 4x to go to the nurse as I was not feeling well she said no and told me to stop trying to get out of long division, so I puked on her desk.
8th grade my gym teacher called me a bitch so I smacked his ass as hard as I could with a tennis racket thing and called him a unic for hitting a girl because she was better at sports than him on coke. (he refused to retell the story so I did not get school punishment) For the next few weeks I did everything I could to show him up until the end of the semester.
10th grade I was accused of putting ‘poppers’ in all the pencil sharpeners in classrooms. I never admitted it, but I spared one teacher who I really liked. He thanked me and all I did was nod. He never ratted me out.
12th grade a teacher hated me so much she attempted to make it so I could not ‘walk’ at graduation... she tried a few times to call my mom who would always say ‘8 to 3’ don’t you get paid to do a job? She (in front of the class) got very mad at me for explaining to her that how she was explaining what an ROI on a small start up would look like and that she should not dumb it down, we were an accelerated class weeks from being adults free to fight wars, make more humans, and be jailed as adults--- to which she lost her temper and said “It is clear your mother has no relationship to you, what is your fathers number, one of your parents need know why at graduation you will be standing in the parking lot”. I smiled... looked her in her baby-sitter book club looking face and said in truth, he died last semester- surly you noticed my absence?. As I watched her face change to something she was seemingly uncomfortable with, I slowly rose to my feet and hand on my heart began singing ‘Oh Danny Boy’ loud and slowly until she left the room.
I would go on... because as the years went by my life was CHANGED by educators through 12 years of college in ways my kids will pass to theirs and so on and so on.
I regret nothing typed here
How could he?!? How dare he give me a failing mark? I’ve never had a mark that low in all the time I’ve been in school. How? I’d had great marks on all the tests. I’m speaking French in class well. Doesn’t he know I’ve won awards for being the best student in the school each of the last two years I’ve been there?
He wrecked my average, brought it down by a whole grade point. How was I going to recover from this by the end of the year? It was only the end of October and he’s made my last year of junior high miserable. And the worst of it, he never gave me a hint this was coming so I could work my ass off to prevent it. I had great marks or so I thought.
Damn good thing report cards were distributed at the end of the day, during a five minute home room class before dismissal bell rang. I don’t know if I managed to disguise the shock of seeing a D, get that a D! Right in the middle of the list of classes along with 8 other straight A’s. I’d even managed to do well in Phys. Ed. for the first time in forever. Thank God that class didn’t count toward my academic average.
I was so upset I ran home, hoping to find sympathy from my parents when they came home from work. Running usually brought me to my knees, I know why now, but then no one realized I had asthma and I would get breathless to the point of almost passing out. My face beet red and panting after a single lap of the field, gym teachers constantly accused me of being lazy and out of shape.
But on that crisp late autumn day, I was furious, and adrenaline flowed thick through my body. Running was effortless except for my hateful boobs bouncing painfully in the inadequate bra my mother had bought the last time we’d been clothes shopping. Already a generous C cup, they were the attention grabber I didn’t want. Bad enough being accused of being a brain, smarter than most, but those hateful appendages brought me to the attention of boys! Their wolf whistles and cat calls were awful, and now they kept trying to grope me in the halls between classes. I sprinted down the alley to our house, and through the back gate into the yard.
Tears leaking now, I had to hurry inside before one of the nosy neighbors noticed me. Having a closely knit community on the inner crescent we lived on was great most of the time, but the fewer people who knew of my shame the better. Mom was home, back earlier than she used to be. We had a second car now, and I didn’t get the half hour of private time like I did when she took the bus home like last year. I couldn’t get to my room to let the storm of weeping take me. I’d have to face her with the report card.
“Was ist los Shatz?” She still spoke German at home, trying to keep my mother tongue alive. She held her hand out and switched to English. “I’ll take that report card.”
I wasn’t going to get away with leaving it on the kitchen table for her to find later. My sister wasn’t home yet, school got out later for her, she was four years behind me. Lucky brat got to get up later too, because I had to be in class an hour ahead of her.
“Let’s see it now!” she demanded. Can’t she see I’m upset? Well maybe she did, she did ask me what was wrong, and she did use my nickname, Shatz, she called me that to her dying day. Treasure? I didn’t feel like it most of the time. Babysitter, housekeeper, and generally expected to be the best at everything I did, I knew she’d accuse me of being the problem when it came to that unforgiveable D in French.
Here it comes I thought as I watched her open the envelope.
“What’s this? A D!! You’ve done well in French. Didn’t you complete your assignments?” She always focused on the worst, good was expected, and could always be better.
I threw my French notebook at her. “Look at them. I didn’t get one mark under an A on one of them. Not even and A-! Mr. Sunderland is just being mean. My average is down to a B+ on the academics. I’ve never been that low.”
“You’ll just have to do better for the next reporting period.”
“I answered everything he asked me in class. I speak French only in his class; he insists. He even marked my written work as all A’s or A+? Don’t you get it? He’s being a Schwein! (pig in German).” We slipped back and forth between languages in our house.
Mom smacked my shoulder, “You never talk about an adult like that, he’s your teacher, you WILL respect him.”
I turned on my heel, “You don’t understand. You never understand. He’s wrong to mark me down like that!” I yelled at her. I took the two steps down the hall to my room and slammed the door behind me. I threw myself on the bed pounding the pillow in frustration. My shoulders shook with noisy sobs. Mom is a bitch. She didn’t even care except I wasn’t good enough again.
It was quite simple, really
A little tactic and a littler action
He stood so confident to sharpen his pencil
While meanwhile I eyed his blue chair
The one he had left so surely
And even sooner he returned
Pencil sharpened, laughter in his eyes
But then he so confidently made to sit down
Which is when I put my hands on that blue chair
And pulled it out swiftly to watch him fall
Perhaps it was the redness of his face
Or the unfiltered laughter from the class
But I knew no longer could he mess with me
For I finally took down him who took down me
It was quite simple, really
A Memory (Or Two)
If you don't mind, here are three of my favorite memories from school. These three memories all happened in the year 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools. All of these were sourced from my diary, which I named after the one who gave it to me, Marie. Also, more context is provided through the words inside the parenthesis.
23 January 2020
Hello! Today was yet another normal day at school. But today, I saw Ma'am Herminigilda Salac, my Math teacher last year (she had already retired). Also, Ma'am Salac's students came during that time, and it caused reunions from Diamon, Emerald, and Ruby (Grade 7 sections) last year. Badminton classes also went great, and I went into the advanced group. Well, I also planned my toy car for tomorrow. Good night, and see you tomorrow!
03 March 2020
Hi! Today was yet another day at school. Well, the Math LT (Long Test) was fair enough, and the ValEd (Values Education) quiz bee was great, I almost got the title of Master of Dating. Also, the Filipino LT went very well, and our group finished the game first. At home, I did some laptop work, where me and my partner start revising our SocSci (Social Sciences) project and also, I devised a good plan for April Fool's Day.
P.S. The Filipino LT went very well, and our group still had 6 minutes after completing the game. Also, I made the final move. (We were studying one of my favorite books back then, and the LT, which was made into a game, proved my knowledge about that book)
09 March 2020
Hello! Today was yet another day at school, where there was quite a nice atmosphere. However, at the first break, there was a confirmed case of the COVID-19 in Quezon City (the place where the school was), which eventually led to a suspension of classes. But right before I went to the drop-off area, me and my partner still made the AdTech (Art, Design, and Technology) project, and it had already passed the 3-tile test (The project was a toy car, and it took us a long time to move 3 tiles)! Well, I did some laptop work at home, where I continued my blog. Goodnight, and see you tomorrow!
Who knew that March 9, 2020 is the last day of face-to-face classes in our school? Until then, me, my classmates, and my friends haven't stepped foot at the campus.
By George ~
An excerpt from this ~
"My favorite subject was Arithmetic; by George, I only went to school for about seven or eight years."
^ --> I delivered these words, some paraphrased by someone, sometime, somewhere, bestowed to me for memorizing; I, alongside all the other second-graders at my elementary school took the state as George Washington. Oh, yes: each and every one of us eight-year-olds in construction-paper powdered-wigs.
I was bad at math as a kid.
Couldn't ever remember six-times-seven.
But for a few moments,
I was a Founding Father,
and I could be counted on
to deliver his words well.
What a swell lesson (however weird) that I reflect on often.
~ Just prosing to warmup & make connections today [posted 2021-05-03]
Life Lesson In Middle School Math Class?
I was in 7th grade Math class back in 1993, and I hated Math with a passion (Ironically, I enjoying teaching it to my Pre-K students). My Math teacher not only made a difficult subject manageable, but he had a wicked sense of humor that made his class so much fun. I remember one day that he was drawing a image for the overhead projector (anyone else remember those?), and I believe it was Ms. Pac-Man with teeth. The teacher said she had teeth because she is evil, and she is evil because she is a woman. The girls in the class were getting fired up, while the boys (including me) were laughing. The teacher then said that men like hanging out with women, and that makes men stupid. The girls then relaxed, content with being evil over being stupid. I laughed to myself, knowing that our teacher had gotten us good. A lesson like this would never fly in school today - the 90s were just a unique time that I fondly reflect on often....
Song of a Set Piece
School was always odd for me. I was ofteoften absent - often I’d already learned the things we were talking about, or whatever I was thinking about seemed more important. I performed well enough, but proving what I knew by engaging always seemed pointless in comparison to thinking up something new. When I did attend, I kept myself entirely detached, a distant cloud rarely brushing foglike against the hard boundaries of the earth.
Perhaps I remember how I felt about the moments that changed who I was better than the events themselves because of how detached I was. I don’t remember most of those moments now, buried under time and other memories, of course. But the feelings - I remember swelling anger, embarrasment, eagerness, and rarely, a sense of comfort and home. However, most of the strange moments from my schooling and childhood are things I only know of in stories I learned from the adults around me - mostly detailing the ways I inconvenienced them. What I really remember now are the little things worn into me by years of exposure.
I remember the texture of cinderblock walls, painted white in so many layers it exaggerates the unevenness even as it smooths it over: the perfectly smooth lines where I’d run my finger along the grout. I remember wishing it had more colours, and imagining I was drawing out some plant or beast or scene sketched out by rough, cubist lines.
I remember the river we dug, in the dirt beneath one of the soccer goal posts - I could probably draw its rough shape even now, 15 years hence, if asked. We planned it out - dams and tools and tunnels to hide it so no adult would see it to fill it in. We got in trouble for it constantly - “No digging! Fill it back in!” But the rain would wash the loose dirt out for us, anyways, and after I’d outgrown it and other first graders had taken over down the years, I heard the administrators gave in and bought shovels. I was always happy about that.
In every little memory, though, I remember my school buildings empty - I was so detached from the actions of the teachers and other students that in my memory I see through them, watching the buildings and the fields weather and change slightly over the years of different uses and short term projects - a garden put in in grade three, overrun by mint 2 years later, a leak in the roof slowly making its way towards the boy’s bathroom window. A tree limb bending and cracking slowly for months before the arborist is called to prune it. It’s slow, but you can see it all if you sit still enough.
I wish I’d known how to move when I realized the weathering was happening to me, too.