Monday, October 20, 2014

All Creatures Break And Maul

Carnage was afoot in the hallowed halls of Newmentia this morning.

As I entered the building, past the outside surveillance camera, stepping through the double doors to be picked up by the inside surveillance camera, an insect of indeterminate order scurried past my feet, making a break for the great outdoors. Hot on its six heels was a millipede. A tiny baby millipede, nothing like those monsters we get inside the Mansion basement every couple of years, strong enough to move a glass bowl set down to dome it from creeping.

I let them pass. Until I am specifically told that the "other duties as needed" clause in my contract requires me to don my exterminator hat, I shall refrain from horning in on Orkin's business. This critter parade has become so commonplace that I did not even wave a white flag inside my classroom door before entering. No matter what beasty that harsh taskmistress Mother Nature plans to take me out with, it will happen when it happens, be it at school or in the Mansion.

Today and the whole week being a bit hectic, I had other items on my agenda than minding the creepy-crawlies in the common areas. Above my pay grade. I am employed to work with the two-leggers.

The first bell rang, and I strode to my post to observe hall traffic. Students proceeded in an orderly manner from the cafeteria past my door. Then there was a ripple in the flow. A slight reversal. One young lass turned, took two steps back, and STOMPED the tile. She immediately resumed her previous speed and direction, leaving behind a writhing curlicue that had once been a tiny baby millipede.

Mother Nature is not the only harsh taskmistress in Hillmomba.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

If Only I Had The Nerve To Send Out Letters Like My Sons' Elementary Teachers, Saying That The Student Is Doing Fine, And There Is No Need For A Conference...

Time grows short. It's the dreaded conference week. Sure, there's a Friday-off carrot dangling at the end of the five-day stick. But first we have to get to it.

The Pony will stay late tomorrow to work on his pumpkin-flinging mangonel. Yeah. I didn't make that up. It's like a trebuchet, I think. A catapult. He's part of a club that is building this device. Tuesday I will stay until 7:00, conferencing. Wednesday The Pony has Scholar Bowl practice. And Thursday I will stay until 6:00 twiddling my thumbs, because nobody comes on Thursday when the kids get out early. Oh, but my night will not end at 6:00, because The Pony is going to the Halloween dance which ends at 10:00. Putting me back at school to pick him up, then a 45 minute drive home. I'm tired already.

This month is flying by already. Bill-paying Friday, which has the audacity to fall on Halloween, is marred by Trunk or Treat. The Pony must hand out candy in front of Newmentia from 5:30 until 6:30. I think I will leave him there after school and take my mom with me to pay the bills, returning just in time to scoop up The Pony. On the road again...sing it, Willie, you high-as-a-kite, gasohol-guzzling, red-headed stranger.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom grows weary with responsibility.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Predicts That The Upcoming Winter Will Be Average

On the way to town this morning, I saw three of these:

They were longer than this example, but they had just about as much brown. So unlike last year's woolly bears, which were totally, completely, unequivocally, inexplicably black.

In case you've been living under a rock waiting for GEICO put up a billboard telling you how 15 minutes can save you 15% on car insurance...woolly bear caterpillars can predict winter weather. Uh huh. It's true. I read it on the internet. Also, I saw those black caterpillars crossing the road last year, and in case you didn't hear, what with being so busy living under your rock, Newmentia had 21 SNOW DAYS! Which means those woolly bears knew something. AND I was seeing them crossing the road in July and August. Way too soon for the winter predictors to be out.

I'm going out on a limb here and declaring that this winter will be average. Newmentia may see a smattering of snow days, four or five, perhaps. STOP! Do not throw erasers at Mrs. Hillbilly Mom! That is hurtful. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom does not control the weather! You disgruntled educators need to track down that faculty member in your building who does the snow dance. It is not Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.

I still need to run this prediction by the persimmons for verification.

Friday, October 17, 2014

You've Gotta Know What You're Working With

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is not a fan of interspersing upperclassmen with freshmen. Not that she has any say in it, of course. Required credits dictate enrollment. So when a new kid shows up from a school that teaches their sciences in a different order than Newmentia, select sophomores or juniors find themselves smack-dab in the middle of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's high school newbies. Sometimes there's an errant upperclassman repeating my class for a credit, but the majority of my uppers are thrust into my matrix through no fault of their own.

Here's the thing with freshmen. They are playful, frolicking puppies. They want attention, good or bad, and will do their darnedest to get it. While I can't actually swat them with a rolled-up newspaper, nor nip them until they yelp like another puppy peer might do, I CAN get their attention and make my wishes known. Freshmen are very teacher-centric. The kids have not developed such a mob mentality. They relate to the teacher one-on-one, especially for the first half of the year. Then they pull away and begin that quest for independence.

Freshmen are especially enamored with upperclassmen. They are COOL, no matter if they really are or not. So I have to befriend those upperclassmen, and make sure we're on the same page. Not buddies, but co-workers. You can't treat uppers like you treat lowers. They're more sophisticated, Sometimes surly, and quite likely to tell Mrs. Hillbilly Mom to go jump in a lake. Their tender self esteem does not depend on the approval of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. So they get a bit more explanation as to the reason for things, rather than a commanding STOP THAT RIGHT THIS MINUTE or a flat-out NO. The freshmen kind of catch on, and see that with maturity comes more respect. They settle down so as not to be seen as foolish in the eyes of the upperclassman.

It's been working so far. Even with transfers who must be trained in the ways of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. It's worth the investment. As the upperclassman goes, so goes the class.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cus Strikes From Beyond The Grave

Perhaps it’s a function of the advancing Halloween holiday, perhaps it’s a function of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s advancing age, or perhaps it’s just a funk that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has fallen into rump-over-teakettle. But it certainly seems that Cus is striking from beyond the grave to make sure Mrs. HM’s life is less than smooth. That the fabric of Mrs. HM’s working life is more akin to rhinoceros skin than to the soft, soft epidermis of a dainty Arabian show-horse’s muzzle.

Okay. Striking from beyond the grave may be misleading, because Cus is not in the grave. Cus is merely dislocated, relocated, other-located from Newmentia. However…the spawn of Cus still stalks the hallowed halls of Newmentia, same as The Pony prances hither and yon in the same facility. It seems as though CusChild is channeling the master.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no issues with CusChild. In fact, I wish I had a whole passel o’ CusChilds in my class. Because CusChild is pleasant and respectful and conscientious about the coursework. And because of that, CusChild is quite thorough when completing assignments. However…this thoroughness can sometimes be a thorn in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s ample side. Like when she gives instructions on a test that is given at the end of each quarter, which include the phrase, “Please do not write on the test questions.” You see, those questions can be used over and over, without need for jamming the Kyocera and killing trees. Unless, of course, a student writes answers on the test questions before copying them onto the answer sheet.

Not only did CusChild write the letter of the answer on the tiny blank beside the questions, but CusChild also circled the letter of the answer. But that’s not all! In addition, CusChild slashed through the letters of the unwanted answers. Which is good test-taking strategy, really. But quite a fly in Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s test-question ointment.

There are 52 questions on that test. Times five. Five items per test question that had to be erased. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s Pink Pet was panting after that erasure session. That was 260 items to be erased: letters, circles, slashes. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom might have to go on the disabled list due to carpal tunnel syndrome.

No, don't get me wrong. I enjoy having CusChild in class. Just not so much on test day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Something's Rotten In Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's Room

The next Semi-Weekly Meeting of the Newmentia Lunchtime Think Tank can’t come soon enough. There is a vital topic I am putting on the agenda for discussion:

Whose idea was it to serve tacos on Tuesday, and chili crispitos on Wednesday?

The perpetrator of such a cruel prank is obviously somebody who does not serve time in the trenches. The classrooms. The hermetically-sealed classrooms where faculty must stay, locked in, with the student bodies for 50-minute stretches. Without a self-contained breathing apparatus.

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom nearly lost consciousness this afternoon. Even though it is her policy not to breathe through her nose while at work…a plume of Pepe de Pew odor snaked its way into her nostrils, adhering to the tender mucosa like Seinfeld-valet-parker-BO to the lovely tresses of Elaine Benes. Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was not at liberty to snort tomato juice.

SWEET GUMMI MARY! It was all I could do not to gag. I think my eyes watered as well. Nor could I walk to the cabinet and grab two cans of Febreeze (different fragrances), twirl them like a gunslinger, and spritz about the classroom. That might be construed as bullying behavior by the little stinker.

One class entered, and a lad exclaimed, “This room smells like a sock!” Well. A sock that has been stuffed into the rectum of a decaying wildebeest, perhaps. But not a normal sock that I have ever encountered. Not even one from the legendary StinkFoot, as Sir Talks A Lot once termed one of his charges.

As a teacher of the sciences, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom appreciates the fact that her students have healthy digestive systems. It’s just that the rest of us don’t need to know the extent of the healthiness. A healthiness so healthy that the possessor must surely be written up in the annals (heh, heh, see what I did there?) of internal medicine. The healthiest healther who ever healthed. Probably next in line to give feces transplants to the lower-digestive-tract compromised, those who need healthy feces to counteract a raging nursing-home/hospital diarrhea bug.

Yes, the Newmentia Lunchtime Think Tank will surely address this issue at the next meeting. I plan to schedule it for chili day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

But Seriously, Folks...

As a new sideline in my proposed handbasket factory, I’m thinking of starting a school for stand-up comedians. I can give them valuable advice that other comedians can’t.

Go to school. That’s the advice. No, I don’t mean go to school, as in attend all your classes so you can make something of yourself. Nope. I mean go to school, as in earn 60 hours of college credit, and sign up to substitute in the public schools of Missouri. Yep. That will be valuable experience for stand-up comedian training.

Don’t think the captive audience thing is the reason. That’s not how to gain experience. You have to develop a presence. Command attention. Be funnier than the kid sitting next to the other kid.

You’ll learn to work clean. No Kathy-Griffin-ing with hecklers. I’m sure you saw her that one year on the New Year’s Eve show with Anderson Cooper. She told a heckler, “I’m working. I don’t come to YOUR job and knock the d---s out of your mouth!” That’s not gonna fly in the classroom, especially if you want to return for more valuable experience.

There’s no two-drink minimum in the classroom, but don’t even mention that term to the pupils, because THEY WISH there was a two-drink minimum—of soda! They’d be drinking Mountain Dew hand-over-fist if you allowed it. Which would only lead to more heckling. And let’s face it, comedians…there can be such a thing as too much practice in snappy-comebacking the hecklers. Don’t even think about allowing a two-drink minimum of trips to the water fountain. You’ll hear the door slam on the way out, and the door slam on the way in. Twice. Then you’ll hear it twice again for each trip to the bathroom.

Yes, at Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s School For Stand-Up Comedians, you’ll learn how to earn laughs, and how to command a room. Fifty minutes of stage time each session! A fresh audience every hour! Your audience will be telling their friends about your performance. So don’t try using the same tired old material each show.

Sign up now to be first in line when Mrs. Hillbilly Mom’s School For Stand-Up Comedians throws open its virtual doors.

Disclaimer: Enrollees must be able to pass a background check before performing.