Saturday, May 31, 2008

Convoking

Well, another school year is now officially over. Having just returned from the end-of-year church service (No, were NOT a parochial school . . . but we DID have a Bible Literacy class that one time. . . ), there's nothing but free days ahead, chopped up by obligatory days of in-service, professional development, growth seminars, and planning days for next year. I don't think there was a single soul who wasn't ready to get out of that church to lick their "wounds" and begin the "healing" process.

Oddly enough, with all the controversy and adversity we all endured this year in the form of misinformation, uninformtion, and covert changes, the convocation at the local Evangelical facility didn't come across as a mass confessional, nor was it spiritually uplifting. Not even the complimentary "mini-muffins" could assuage the fact that the entire district was compelled to don their "professional" attire once again on a Saturday. The only nice advantage to regular church-goers is that they were validating tickets at the door so that today's service counted for tomorrow's "keep holy the Sabbath" commandment.

In all cereal-ness, the 1.5 hour ceremony was much shorter than the explicitly deceiving misinformation that we were going to be tied up until the end of our contract day, which officially ended at 3:15 (4:00 for elementary schools.) Additionally, the implied ultimatum of possible flogging, blacklisting, or excommunication for non-attendance was predictably not enforced as there were no "sign in" sheets circulating among the pews (or at least, I HOPE there weren't.)

I admit that there were some amusing aspects of the ambiguously compulsory event. In previous years, faculty members reaching employment milestones in increments of 5 years would be awarded a service pen, a fantastic sentiment. These were given out at local campuses, where teachers are well known and could be adequately lauded. This year, they were given out ONE AT AT TIME in front of the entire district. Consequently, not only did it consume a large chunk of the 90 minutes, but some people, upon the announcement of their name, didn't receive a single applause. It was very sad and awkward. As it usually is in large groups, their is a collective dissociation of obligation. If it's EVERYONE'S job, then it becomes NO ONE'S job.

This would NOT happen on the smaller, campus level. It's almost more insulting to clap for someone out of pity after the initial 5-second lull of silence upon hearing their name than to keep your hands still. If only the people announcing the names had picked up on this, they could have quickly moved to the next name, but that was unfortunately NOT the case.

Then there was the recognition of those retiring from the district, or at least SOME of those retiring. Granted is was nice to celebrate those dedicated educators who have given their lives to public education as they were individually treated to standing ovations and accolades from their jealous, but adoring, peers. However, one of my own, a mentor of mine, a colleague of mine, a friend of mine, was not given the proper send off. While every other retiree had progressive chronological photos of their existence gleaming on the two big screens while their biography was read, my esteemed colleague was never informed of the need to provide pictures of himself from a time when he had more hair. Consequently, our principal, cunningly enough, did an impromptu short speech of a man who has dedicated 10 years of his military retirement to thankless educational duty, without the "cute baby picture" factor. I believe it's EXACTLY how he probably wanted it. He certainly stuck out, more so for the people who will miss him for all the right reasons.

The last scheduled item was the 20-minute video of district employees waving to the camera to some classic tunes from the 80's. This was definitely the highlight of the event, and not because its conclusion meant the true beginning of our liberty. Put together by two of my favorite people, Rosy and Patti, the ladies I have the privilege of working with on my math shows, it was a symbolic "goodbye" to everyone in attendance. Although everyone around me was thoroughly and genuinely engrossed, I don't think they appreciated the time and effort that was put into it. Getting a chance to work behind the scenes with them, I made sure everyone around me knew who was responsible for the people behind the HEADLINING PRODUCTION.

Finally, the last person on the program, which was incidentally ALL scheduled to take place at 9:30am, was the Elementary Teacher of the Year, who gave an appropriately short, yet poignant, message to everyone (who were already on the edges of their seats with keys in hand, spying the closest exit.) As she was walking off stage, the majority of people in the back and along the perimeter (there are NEVER enough back rows) were up and jockeying for a spot in the 36-inch wide door jamb that lead to the emancipating exits, the superintendent was heading for the microphone for an unscheduled speech. Everyone hung in the balance. What would he say? There were still 4.5 hours left in our "contract" day.

"Have a great summer," was all he muttered.

That sounds like a mandate to me. I just hope we won't have to provide documentation of it when we return to the beginning-of-the-year Invocation in August.

All I can say at this point is "Hallelujah!"

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen!

Anonymous said...

Now if it would just rain!!! Life is good and Vegas awaits.

bob s said...

In all honesty I knew about the pictures but never got around to sending any. I didn't know about providing a biography. As you have guessed these things are not my cup of tea. As general MacArthur said about old soldiers I think the same applies for old teachers, we don't die, we should just fade away. Please keep doing these as it will be one way for me to keep in touch with my friends and colleagues whom I will miss. And yes have a great summer, recharge those batteries and come back ready to force feed those young minds all the great things you have to tell them. I know I learned more from you than you ever did from me.

kwkorpi said...

bob s

I hope we stay in touch. I can honestly say that I have learned more from you about the "business" of education than I have from any other single person. I will miss our non-math discussions.

Take care of yourself, and please keep your skills sharp. I have been known to absent once every three years. I'll need a sub like you . . . but I know that's just an educational pipe dream . . . like motivated students.