Sayonara seniors

Today I bid adieu to my seniors in World Literature. On June 1st they'll graduate from our esteemed Western Massachusetts high school and go off into the oh-so-great-big world.

Sadly, only a couple are attending a four-year college. Most are going to the local community college, one is joining the Army, and a few others are undecided. All told, they should feel proud they've made it this far.

When the year started, I had 20 students. The roster for today's final class listed 15. Four students (who were failing) dropped out, and a fifth moved. For various reasons, most of these kids resisted the K-12 Kool-Aid we offered. Part of it lies on us. We failed miserably to identify one student's reading disability early, and as a result, he became a vocal troublemaker as he was forced to compensate for poor writing skills.

Certainly not all of them are failures of the system. Many simply lacked support from their parents, and thus in a time when they had a dire need for guidance, they got none. Our school is in the midst of creating a program for students who don't fit the typical mold. It's called "Twilight," and will start and end later in the day. I hope it will be able to help some of these kids.

Truth is, most of my students will manage to find their way, even if it takes them longer than expected. Hopefully they'll remember one of the famous quotes from Hesse's Siddhartha: "I can wait, I can think, and I can fast." If they're patient and willing to wait and work things out (and perhaps dine on Top Roman for a few years) they should be alright.

Less than four weeks of school remain. On good days, I'll have an extra prep period. On bad days, I'll be a sub. Still, it's one less period I need to be fully "on." When I'm not needed for extra duties, I'll be able to make a dent in my 9th graders' poetry anthologies. I gave them a month to create them, I figure a month to grade them is fair, right? Each anthology can take 10-20 minutes to read. That's more than 16 hours of reading, assessing, and grading.


Since my last post in April, I bought and moved into my first home with my fiancee. Those of you who are homeowners can remember, I'm sure, how time-consuming the buying and moving-in process can be. We still have a lot of work to do, but our furniture is in rooms and things are slowly being set up and put away in proper places.

I've also been preparing for my wedding, which is less than a month and a half away.

And as if that weren't enough news, a few weeks ago I earned tenure at my school. Three years of committed, hard work have finally paid off. While the job isn't really getting easier, I am feeling more comfortable, and I think the educational product I'm able to offer students is improving. I'm grateful my school has been willing to stick by me and help me grow as a teacher.

I think it's now time to slip away from the laptop, throw another log into the woodstove, and appreciate the ambiance of our new living room.

Happy final countdown to all.

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