Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tributes of a Sort

I've been going through 20 years of Christmas cards.  I don't know why I saved them all--sheer laziness maybe.  I've thrown away most in the recyclable bin.  I've made new cards of some.   I've saved almost all photos and letters to peruse later.

 It has been a nostalgic activity.  Many of the families of students I tutored over the years sent cards with notes saying things like "I'm doing really well in middle school" or "We didn't get a new tutor since we moved.  Phillip has read The Boxcar Children and asked for three others in the series for Christmas."  But one card, probably from an adult student in the last few years, wrote, "Miss Mary, you learned me alot."  Maybe I did--but not enough!

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Day After

It's December 20 and my day is totally open.  I woke up far earlier than I needed to but am still in my pajamas.  It's a good time to muse about the past and the future.

Yesterday I called  Human Resources to see why I had heard nothing about my resignation letter.  It was not found even though I sent an email and a hard copy.  Fortunately, my supervisor had the original email and she re-sent it.  That still didn't do the trick.  I needed to say "retire" not "resign."  Now I know that.  However, I plan to retire just once so will not be able to learn from this experience!

Today's SB Tribune had a flyer in it that read "Celebrate Life to It's Fullest."  My immediate thought was to use it with my students as a great example of a very public but common error.  But I have no students anymore!  What a waste!

This week I looked at Jim's agenda for church council.  The "vision" for our church is to be more involved right in our neighborhood.  It occurred to me that we could have a GED (TASC) class for our neighbors in Hickory Village, a large apartment complex across the street.  This would give me an opportunity to teach a class but without the need to ask for time off from a school corporation.  If we had child care, we could eliminate the two main barriers for attendance--transportation and child care.  I won't present it to anyone just yet, but the idea has possibilities.  It also has problems--sharing space is always difficult.  I don't know how this kind of pop-up class is thought of by the school corporation but there are other "community partners" that do such classes.

I am amazingly at peace with this very big change in my life.  I am thankful for the years I have had to be of service to others and to earn a good living.  I am eager for the opportunities that may present themselves.  I pray for God to lead me in the right paths!

December 19, 2013

December 19, 2013 was my last official day of student contact with the South Bend Community School Corporation.  It was a good day--a breakfast I prepared, a Christmas calculator activity, the reading of Luke 2 and Matthew 2 and the presentation of certificates.  We had seven students present.  My husband came and enjoyed seeing this part of my life.  My replacement came at the end and stayed with me afterwards chatting.

The certificates--I never do something like this with total ease, but with some help from others, I was able to print up several.  The recognition was for perfect attendance for one student, for academic gains in reading, math, and language for five others and for the last two newer students, participation in class.  D forgot his certificates when he left and called to make sure I was there so he could come back and get them.  I was touched at how important they were to him.

The reading of the Christmas stories--no one knew how to find Luke 2 in the Bibles I handed out.  M protested that she went to church every week however!  D commented that she didn't know there were Christmas stories in the Bible!  She is one of our better students.  When she read aloud, she stumbled over words like "Herod" and "Messiah", obviously not a part of her cultural vocabulary.  I know we are a public school setting--even if located in a building owned by a church.  But this has become a part of my Christmas tradition.

I did not grieve at the end of the session.  I cleaned up the party mess and brought some work home.  I'll go in again to work on purging files and taking some more things home.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Monday without a Schedule

This is the first Monday since October that I had nothing to do for work.  I had made plans and checked files last Friday.  I was not introducing new students, doing make-up sessions,  or meeting other staff members.  There were three calls from the office about one student who had never returned my call and as a result had a parent who was very upset that his son was not in class yet.  So there were  reminders of adult education and its challenges!

I woke up knowing the day was wide open and wondered what it would bring.  Now it's almost five pm and time to fix supper and greet my husband.

It was a good day.  I organized my organ music (no pun intended!), I found more old bank statements to be shredded, I wrote a note to an old friend, I walked with Maggie and used the exercise bike,   I left a package at UPS to be packed and sent to Raven, I read, I napped, I put out a few Christmas decorations, and I played lots of organ music at the piano.

I will need more structure for my days, but for today it was just fine.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

One Hour of Recycling

I just spent one hour in the basement sorting through files and binders full of materials from meetings, conferences, mailings and research.  The recyclable bin is full of papers on Bridges to Poverty, Brain Research, Child Care, Starting Over, Conflict Resolution, and Behavior Management, There was more on Curriculum Guides, Family Literacy, Parenting, Life Skills, and I can't remember what else.  I haven't looked at some of it for years.  It was easy to part with much of it.

However, there is still a lot more on those shelves and in those drawers.  I will have to take time to go through staff reports, grant proposals, records, newsletters--all of which are historical records.  But who will be interested in them?   Some memories are not so good.  I found a letter of reprimand from a Housing Authority administrator who thought I was undermining her authority at some point.  I was not sad when she was terminated for unprofessional conduct later!

And then there are all the student files I still have in boxes--from the Hope Rescue Mission, the St. Joseph Library, Family Literacy, and now MC3 classes.  I can no longer puts faces with many of the names, but some I will never forget!

Maybe as time passes, I will be able to part with more.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Another Goal for Retirement?

Jim said he had read about seven mistakes people make during their first year of retirement.  Most of them involved poor financial planning which is not really relevant for me seeing that my spouse will not make plans to retire!  Others involved setting goals beyond the first six months--the honeymoon phase.

A colleague asked me today if I had set goals and I certainly have.  But another one presented itself today. The phone rang--an unusual occurrence these days.  It was Joe Bock, the man planning to run against Jackie Walorski for our representative in Congress.  He wanted to introduce himself to me and to tell me why he was qualified to do this.  I already knew a bit about him and had the time and interest to tell him how pleased I was that he was willing to take this on.  Of course, the conversation ended with a request for funds, but this is a candidacy I am happy to support financially.   In fact, I told him that in my retirement I would have more time and would be happy to help in some way.


It was back to work today after two and a half weeks away.  A colleague asked me if I had regrets or was eager for the end.  I have no regrets, particularly after today's events--minor ones but ones that confirmed my decision.

I texted all the students to remind them that we were back in class tomorrow.  I had maybe five responses out of twelve texts sent out.  We'll see who shows up.

  One response was a bit hostile.  Had I called Work One to get her a voucher to take the GED test?  No, I hadn't.  I had let her know the sub could take care of that.  The sub had not done so because she had not written an essay and come back to class to hand one in.  I told her it was too late to register at this point anyway.  She seemed angry about that--even though I know she knew there were deadlines.  I am tired of this kind of attitude where it is all someone else's fault.

The new TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) is not at all ready for use on January 1.  There are no predictor tests available.  There probably will be a hiatus in testing.  It is difficult to prepare students when you don't know what is required.  But...this is not my problem!

I was very disappointed to see how few of my students signed up to register for the GED by the deadline.  Several of them could have given it a try at least.  That too will be someone else's challenge for the new year.  Another reason for being happy about my decision is that I  learned today who will be teaching at MC3 in January.  The teachers are new to the program but they are experienced and enthusiastic and will do a great job!

I spent a fair amount of time getting ready for class tomorrow--texting students, recording attendance, making plans, creating a review math quiz, and looking at individual folders for setting goals.  That is work I actually enjoy--making up the plans and seeing how they work out.