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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to Banging Erasers and Writing Sentences

These days they look at a smart boards and type on tablets! :)  
 Our Little Guy started school Monday. I have to admit, I was ready for him to go back and I think he was ready too. Summer just wasn't all that fun this year and boredom had really set in. He started another new school this year. Makes me think of how far he has come though. This is the third school he has attended. Four if you count the preschool he attended for one year. School has ended up being quite a drama the last few years!
     It started out well enough. He loved his preschool. The teachers were fabulous (shout out to Mrs Dana!) and he learned so much it kind of freaked me out! His dad is like freaky smart so I shouldn't have been surprised because Little Guy is a carbon copy, little me of Big Guy. The preschool only had them until age 5 so when school ended that Spring, he had just turned 5 and we had to decide whether to go ahead and start Kindergarten or hold him out for a year until he was six. We decided to go ahead with Kindergarten because he had learned so much and had a love learning. We didn't want him to lose that momentum.
     I will never forget the first day of Kindergarten. I was the only mom in the room NOT crying! I was so excited that our Little Guy would continue learning! He was excited to and wasn't terribly nervous...until he sat in his seat and looked around and saw all the crying kids and moms! That put a tense look on his face. I just told him it was okay and they would be okay once all the parents left and school started. I told him some of the kids had probably never been away from their moms for the whole day before and they were a little scared. He ended up having the greatest Kindergarten teacher you could hope for (Thank you Mrs. Hogland!). She was firm but very good at what she did. There were more leaps and bounds in his learning and it was a fun year! I learned how to be a parent helper/volunteer and loved it! First and second grade were both more of the same: great teachers and learning more and more (Thanks to Mrs Hester and Mrs. Welborn!). His excitement for learning just kept growing and it became evident he was a reader. 
     Then Third Grade happened.  It happened like a freight train hitting a brick wall at 150 miles an hour. He got THE teacher from hell! (Thanks for nothing Mrs. M!) We went to open house, she was nice as could be to everyone. She was even an alumni of the school which meant Big Guy knew her. We left open house feeling good and Little Guy's excitement was still strong. That was probably the last time he felt good about school for a year. I tried to volunteer a few times. She made it clear she didn't want anyone in her class. It wasn't long before he was coming home crying. He was so frustrated by the stuff that was happening during the day that homework was just torture for both of us. It came to the point where both of us would cry during homework nearly every night. He was telling us of her yelling and screaming at the students. The homework assignments were ridiculous. She would not photocopy the work sheets or let them tear them out of the workbooks. Instead she would write stuff on the board and they had to copy it down. She would not allow them to bring their textbooks home and actually screamed at a child that dared asked her is he could. I had to tell my child to bring his home no matter what and if she said anything he was to recite my phone number so she could call me. During the time they were studying Importing and Exporting, she sent home a study guide for the test they were taking the next day. One of the questioned asked was "Why do we import from China?" The answer she had made them write down was "So we can get our bananas" What the !?!#^@%!  I mean really! Most of the study guides were like this with obviously wrong answers. But if he had put the correct answers she would have marked it wrong. So we studied for the tests and then had to go back and teach the CORRECT answers. We didn't have an immediate solution so we could do was hold out and hope to make it through. In the last few months of the school she suddenly decided that Little Guy was a trouble maker (?) and began hauling him to the Principal's office. He had never been to the principal's office! The first time she told this fantastic tale of how he was in the hallway and began just kicking all his male classmates in the privates, she had witnessed it all and he was in the principal's office for a paddling! We were told this in a phone call, I was home without a car so I couldn't go see him in person and Big Guy was at work. He spoke to the principal and even though something sounded off about the whole thing we didn't want him thinking that behavior was acceptable. Big Guy gave the principal the conditions for being allowed to paddle. First and foremost was that the principal himself was to give one swat. He made it clear he did not want that woman touching our son. when Little Guy got home I sat him down to talk. By the time it all spilled out of him I was so angry.... it had been time for a bathroom break, he had walked in on the other boys kicking each other and laughing (LIE # 1: She DIDN'T see any of it as she had claimed. LIE #2: The other boys were involved, not just LG, as she claimed) And no one else was paddled for this behavior either. . Then we find out SHE paddled him against BG instructions.  So the next week she calls again saying he had done something and she wanted to paddle him again. I told her there would be no paddling. She was all gruff and said his behavior was totally unacceptable. I repeated that there would be NO paddling or suspension because I knew she had lied about the previous incident. She all the sudden got a sugary sweet voice and said : "I don't know what you mean." I said yes you do and I will not have it. If you touch my child I'll make sure you regret it. Now I'm going to call my husband at work and I can guarantee that he will be at the school in less than 40 minutes. You better get your story straight before he gets there. Good day to you." Her: "BBbbbut I but .." Me: "I said good day!" and I hung up. The minute I hung up the anger flooded in..I called hubby and told him of the call and he dropped everything and got out there. He spoke to the principal told him of the lies she had told in the previous incident, and amazingly the guy KNEW people were having trouble with this woman and there had been numerous complaints about her. His excuse was she was tenured and they couldn't do anything to her. LG didn't get paddled again that day and whatever was said to her, she quit dragging him to the office. Hubby left that day, went and found the County Board of Education people and began asking questions tenure and why it prevented bad teachers from being fired. Turns out it makes it a little difficult, but not impossible. A lot of people didn't really believe us about how bad she was. But by the end of the year our bright enthusiastic learner hated school, cried in the mornings as he got ready, begged to stay home.... It broke my heart to see his excitement for learning squashed. I found out sometime later that they had actually removed her from her class for over 2 years and had her doing menial work around the school.
     Over that Summer we began exploring the options. We wanted him out of the county system. We settled on a small private Lutheran elementary school. So he started Fourth grade in a new school and it was nearly instant love! Within a few weeks, a loving kind teacher (Thank God for Mr Heinze!) restored LG's thirst for knowledge and his excitement for school was back! I fell in love because there was lots of volunteer opportunities available and within a few weeks I was helping in the library. Within a few weeks more, I WAS the librarian! I absolutely loved it. seeing little kids excited to read was so gratifying. Of course being there all the time I got to see a few flaws but they didn't seem too bad after what we had just survived. The year flew by too fast. Fifth grade was more of the same. I remained as Librarian and LG had another fab teacher that helped keep the inner spark lit (The fabulous and kind Mrs Makwana!). At the end of the year though things were unraveling at the upper levels. The teachers were all wonderful great people, but the administration was making mistakes and the school board was clearly in the wrong hands. There were two women on the board that are very power hungry and they use their positions for their own desire instead of the good of the school. They told lies to the new principal and tried to set me up for embarrassment by telling her no one was the librarian and then not telling me. They knew I would show up for open house ready to give parents the tour and answer their questions. Thankfully a dear lady knew what had happened and called my the afternoon before open house. We reluctantly enrolled LG in 6th grade there because he really liked and wanted to be in that teacher's class and it was the final year because that is the highest grade there. I didn't get to volunteer anymore, but LG loved his teacher (Props go out to Mrs. Dahlke!) and despite the goings on outside the classroom, he had a decent year and his teacher worked hard to keep the class engaged and excited. I am however very relieved to be away from that school. I have heard from others recently that the quality has fallen even further and the school is barely a shell of it's former self. 
First Day of Seventh Grade

     So here we are. We made a decision and Little Guy is attending seventh grade at a very good school. It's a Catholic school (which we are not) but it is a good one and there are people all over the world that send their kids here! We visited the campus several times over the last few months and talked to many people and it seems to have been a good choice. Everyone has been super nice, the campus is an extremely peaceful place to walk around, and LG had no anxiety about starting there. Three days in he is already coming in excited to tell us things from his day. He is switching classes, has different teachers for each subject, has a locker and uniform. All new stuff for him, yet it didn't seem to faze him. I was more nervous on day one than he was!  I feel so blessed to have such a child. He teaches me new things all the time!
     The one thing about trying to ensure our son can be someone that keeps his love of learning in high gear, is the costs. I won't lie. It isn't cheap and even with a small family, it strains our budget. Sometimes you just have to go on faith when all you want is to be sure your child can learn in a drama free zone and get a good education that will propel them forward. 
I do have a fundraiser set up to try to help with the costs and if you find it in your heart to help, I could never thank you enough! The fundraiser is through Flower Power and They will give 50% of all orders. You can order flower bulbs and more from the Flower Power site 
If you don't wish to purchase anything, but still want to help, I can accept donations on my Amex Serve Card (I can invoice) or  through Paypal using email jigsawinc@yahoo.com. Please mark it as a gift. 
Again THANK YOU so much for your support!

How about you? Have you ever had to deal with a "bad" teacher?

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