Thursday, January 31, 2008

C is for Community

I have decided I live in a pretty great place. Yes, it has it's usual urban issues, but when necessary people really come together. 
In my last post I wrote of our Public School's financial woes. Teachers and support staff were being let go mid-year. Classrooms were in an uproar. Some communities would sit idly by and watch it happen...but not this one.
Parents began to rally, businesses began to donate, people were angry that this could have happened and it was going to hurt children. Last I checked over $300,000 dollars has been raised and because of this grass roots effort the state of Massachusetts decided it would provide the means for our city to borrow up to $100,000,000 more to save teacher's jobs. 
All 29 teacher's who were laid off have been placed back into the classroom. Parent's raised enough money to put all the elementary school librarians back into their libraries. Music teachers have been put back in front of their pianos and children are able to have art classes again. It's been amazing to watch.
People really do care what happens in our public schools. It's a beautiful thing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

M is for money

...or lack thereof. 
Just before the contract vote, the city came out with the info that the school department's business manager messed around with the school budget and payed last year's bills with this year's money. Not only did he do that, but he underfunded some major line items. This all added up to a 4.9 million dollar deficit. That's a big chunk of change. 
Word came down that there would be major layoffs within a matter of weeks. This is not good news anytime, but especially mid-year. No child needs to lose their teacher right smack in the middle of the school year.
I will not have tenure until next September, so technically I was on the chopping block. We heard on a Monday that we would know by the following Friday who was being cut and who was safe. Tensions were high on Friday, I was literally sick to my stomach. I was feeling like my job was maybe okay, but it was that small level of uncertainty that just made me feel awful. Let's face it, even if it wasn't going to be me, it was going to be some of my friends.
Every time I heard the principal's heels coming down the hall my stomach would do that roller coaster flip-flop, I was sure she was coming for me, pink slip in hand. 
Thankfully when she did come for me, it was to tell me to relax, I was just fine and not going anywhere. I kept my emotions in check ( I'm not a public emoter) but I wanted to scream, yell, and engage in general merriment!
All in all our school got off lightly because of some very good foresight from our principal. We had an open federally funded position, so although she had to combine three classes into two, on of those teachers moved into the funded position, so we lost a class, but not a body. 
Other schools did not fare so well. In all, 29 teachers were cut from their respective schools, 70+ other personnel were also let go, that included specialist, support staff and custodians. 
It was not a good week for our public school system, but something happened to make me feel the proudest I have ever been to live in such a great city.

C is for Contract

Oh where to begin...
Our union recently ratified a really awful contract. Basically the district gave us a raise, but also raised out health insurance contribution, so really the contract was a wash. The one bright spot in all of this is the retro check. We worked almost two years without a contract, so the retro check might be okay, I won't be going on any vacations with the "found" money but it might be good for a dishwasher for my new kitchen.
It really came down the wire with this contract. Negotiations with city were not going well, and we had started some quiet protests at school committee meetings, in front of city hall, before and after school, that kind of thing. It was scary but exciting at the same time. It made me feel like I was part of a process...something bigger than myself, part of a united team...I was Norma Rae! 2...4...6...8 now's the time NEGOTIATE! Good times!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ll my name is Lisa

Okay, I created this blog months ago, fully intending to post and post often. Alas life gets in the way. A little about me, I a 40 something mom of three boys commonly referred to around here as small, medium and large. When I say large, I mean large, a 6'1" bean pole. Medium is on his way to becoming large, he takes great pride in the fact that at 5'6" he's officially "taller than you mom!"
Little will eventually be large too, but he's got a few years to go. The saddest part of this story...I am the shortest person in the house and probably weigh the most, okay, maybe hubby weighs more, but really there is no justice. 
I have to say, large or small they are three great boys, well behaved (for the most part), good students, good athletes, polite and respectful. They do have their moments...afterall, Medium is 13 ("nuf said), but Large is proof that there is light at the end of that tunnel!
Hubby and I have been married for 20 years. Twenty years, unbelievable. He's a pretty good guy too, I'm very lucky. He's currently working at a career change. He's going to become a fellow educator. I am immensely proud of him, it's not easy to reinvent yourself in your mid-forties, but he's plugging along and doing very well. He is currently working as a teacher's assistant in a pre-school for Autistic children. I don't know how he does it. 
I am a kindergarten teacher...hence the title of my blog. Adventure does not even begin to describe it. I LOVE my job. I can't imagine doing anything else. I have the privilege of educating 5 year-old. I get them as babies, scared, unsure and unruly and turn them into readers! Can you imagine? It's an amazing transformation. 
They make me laugh everyday and I hope I can share some of that with all of you. We have our ups and downs, sure I get frustrated sometimes, sometimes they drive me crazy, but even when I have a bad day, I don't mind trying again tomorrow. And at the end of the year, when it's time to say good-bye I always shed a tear or two or three. I sometimes wonder who has learned more about themselves.