Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dear Mr. Trump, Thank You for Making America Great Again

Mr. Trump,
 
     I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge your endeavors to make America great again. In your short tenure as POTUS, I must commend you on how 'great' our country has become. While I did not vote for you, I am beginning to question my election shortcomings. But enough about me; as we all know, it is always about you. Let me continue my thoughts on greatness, authored by no one other than yourself.

GREAT KIDS
I think it is great to have children in the White House. The Bush and Obama administration proved that. Really... how cute to watch Barron play with his baby cousin while you were signing your first documents. Children are our future and seeing Ivanka's little son crawl in the White House and thrill his mother was heartwarming. It took us all back to the Kennedy years with John-John peeking around the Presidential desk and Caroline dancing for her daddy. Truly. It is a bit worrisome when the Commander in Chief demonstrates behavior attributed to a toddler, but I am sure maturity is forthcoming. Ummm...are my tax dollars paying for nannies? Just wondering.

GREAT LAUGHTER
Laughter is so welcomed in the stress-laden days which we find ourselves. I know of no other commodity that the American spirit craves more than hilarity. And thanks to you and your peeps, we are really laughing. Grizzly bears in schools. Imaginary massacres in Bowling Green. Alternate facts, fake news, and endless rants on Twitter. Banning folks who have more rights to be in this country than you have to live on Pennsylvania Avenue. Selecting an individual to head up education when she appears to be a DeVos, DeVoid of any kind of wisdom. But no worries; if things calm down and the laughter dies, there is always SNL. Oh, and your hair. That makes us laugh. And your orange marmalade skin tone. I don't know how you do it: pathetic and inept has somehow become entertaining. Kind of like an odd comedian: we wake up and wonder what laughable blunder you have done now. Hmmm....bet the CIA and FBI aren't laughing.  But what do I know? I still laugh at my students' knock knock jokes.

GREAT SPOUSE (SORTA)
I alluded to children in the White House, well this shout out goes to Melania. Man, she looked amazing in that powder blue suit at the inauguration. Yes, we have had several first ladies who rocked the fashion scene, but she truly outshines you. I mean, did you even have clothes on at the swearing-in? Kinda like the 'Emperor's New Clothes,' if you were told you looked stellar by the right 'yes' men, you would have stepped out in nothing and attributed it to the finest designer. Melania kind of 'married up' with you. I mean, she speaks four languages fluently, and you have yet to master English. I will tell you this; if my middle school students wrote the way you talk, they would be attending summer school, tutorial sessions, and retention in the same grade. But you know, talking in circles is probably a good strategy for you. May I suggest you take a lesson from your better half? She says little and carries herself with great aplomb, and if she 'borrows a speech' at least she used one of the best. OH--and she's an immigrant! One of those!  Had you been my spouse and spewed out that ban on immigrants, I would have been chasing you around the East Room with a rolling pin. Hitter meets Twitter. This begs the question: if you treat absolute strangers/women/diplomats with such a mean reception, how do you treat your wife in private? We've gotten a peek at how you ignore her in public. I guess we can ascertain that two separate addresses is how some folks stay married.

GREAT NEWS ABOUT OUR CONSTITUTION
Thank you for turning us into students of the Constitution. While most of us didn't know much past the Preamble or Second Amendment, we are now hearing ourselves say, "Can he do that??" Umm...you really can't. We are actually reading the Constitution (or watching Hamilton) to check out facts. Better than Snopes, really. But don't lose heart, Mr. Trump. There are quickie lessons you can obtain from Amazon that can teach you history in short bursts. Kind of like 'School House Rock' but not as cool. Yet, it will give you a basis on which to lead the greatest (see what I did there??) country in the world. Oh...and I now know that there is indeed REAL news and FAKE news. I mean, I always thought that the National Enquirer and the Star magazine were fake publications, but now I know that Fox News and CNN are fake newscasts. I am so glad that I can now read the National Enquirer without shame. Your personal disdain for the media is well, entertaining. Probably the worst strategy ever for someone front and center of the evening newscast, but hey....your Twitter account is as damaging as the White House Press Corps. Now...back to that policy and parchment of our forefathers.

GREAT WALL
The wall idea is wonderful. Now, building it to divide nations is pretty idiotic, but the concept of walls does excite me. I mean, how about a wall built around folks who have 49 items and are in the 'Fifteen or Less Items' in the grocery store. Yep. They deserve a wall. Same thing for folks who never use their turn signals. Yeah--hire Blinker Patrols to chase those folks out of the fast lane. And you know what? I think a wall is in order for people who cut lines. Gather those sneaky devils up and put them behind the wall of shame. Especially for folks who cut the lines at Disney and other amusement parks and pretend they did not know. Same thing for those careless drivers that take up three parking places: wall them in and they will learn. I really don't think the wall between Mexico and the U.S. is good idea. If you listen to a recent podcast involving the Border Patrol they will tell you that there is an 18 foot wall now, and folks wanting to come to our country bring 19 foot ladders. The one border patrol officer said they have more 19 foot ladders than they know what to do with. My ideas about walls are more advisable....just sayin'.

GREAT UNIFICATION
Well, you have done an admirable job of uniting many people, especially women. Truly! Successful protests on issues that have been bothering us girls has really made some people think. Had I not had a recent foot surgery I would have joined in. Now...between you and me, Mr. Trump, I would not have worn a pink hat designed like my 'hoo-ha'. But that's just me. Some men grab anything, but then you know that. Another area that garnered Americans to line up and be heard was with the recent ban on immigrants. I cannot remember when I have been so proud to be an American, as I was watching people at airports cheering on those folks from other countries. And if that was not enough, we had attorneys offering their services, 'pro bono', to help scared and desperate families maneuver through the hot mess you created. Now that was a stroke of genius on your part: target immigrants and watch how quickly we recite the words from the base of the Statue of Liberty: "Bring me your tired, your poor; your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" and rush out to let them know that a welcoming spirit defines who we are. If you continue the trends that you have set forth these first days of your reign, dictatorship,  we will come together with one common cause: impeachment on the grounds of treason. Thank you for not spending a lot of tax dollars on redecorating the White House; those moving vans may arrive sooner than you think. Hey... you might check to see if Nordstrom's is hiring.

Well, Mr. Trump, it has been nice talking with you and I surely hope that this little summary has lifted your spirits. I mean, if you have been 'Down in the Dumps, Trump' maybe you will see all the good you are doing to make America Great Again. You are the President now, and we all must accept that. It is kind of like that annoying and unforgiving toothache that occurs on the weekend. Sometimes you just have to suffer through it. Then, the office opens, the extraction occurs, and healing is restored. Is the pain forgotten? Well, once that pain occurs it will not soon be repeated.

We can only hope that this process works for America. Greatness? Oh, it is coming and it will be at the hands of "We the people" not "I, the Donald."

Greatness. We will show you what it looks like.






Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Shape of Things to Come: You've Got to be Kidding!

     As I was being held hostage in the dentist's chair, I picked up a magazine to read. There was only one that I could reach, being that I was tethered by that chain/clip/napkin thing. Who ever got a patent for that invention was one sorry soul.  But I digress. Guess which periodical was in my grasp? The one entitled, 'InShape'  which is one thing that I am not. Sweet. A root canal and dieting suggestions all in one afternoon.

     I turned to the first article which involved the reader doing a pencil test. This was simple: put a pencil under one's breast and if it stays put, then breasts are perky. Really? I am sixty-one years old. I could put a pencil, stapler, 3-ring hole punch and a tape dispenser under these babies and they would stay put. Sagging bosoms do that, you know. Lost desk articles does not equate with perky. It gets better. Or worse.

     One motivating article was called, "Shape Up or Ship Out" and I knew that I would be leaving the dock. I like shapes: round, oval, triangle, but the shapes they were suggesting require work. Now...mention 'take-out' and I am on board; 'work-out', umm not so much. But this writer was dropping words like 'six-packs' and while I dreamed of root beer, she went on to discuss 'ab-controllers'. Hey, my mom used those: she called them girdles. I think they now call them 'Spanx' but wrapping oneself in latex is not going to hide one bitter fact: some of us are no longer skinny. You can stuff all of our flab in rubbery, sheath-like garments but that cellulite will break free when you least expect it.  Or worse: the fat will come slithering out of the openings. Stick with sweats (the ones you wear). Now...I will share that I used to go to the gym. But that was when I was in middle school and was assigned to P.E., third period. I've done my time. And even have 'gym suits' night terrors. Oh come on...you looked as bad in them as I did.

     I truly feel that fitness should be everyone's goal. I mean, if you try it on and it doesn't fit, buy a larger size. That is fitness to me. Ladies, we have to own the fact that we are all not built like Jennifer Anniston. And if we are breathing, circulating blood, and have a pulse we are in some kinda shape.

      As I skimmed thorough the article like milk (see what I did there? Skimmed milk...I am already thinking healthy foods) and saw the word 'Pil-o-Eats' I was thrilled! Reading about a 'pile of eats' was my kind of literature. Imagine my surprise when I reread that title to be: 'Pilates'. The writer expected me to bend and stretch and hold--like I was elastic or something. I could only think of these possible outcomes: tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis, and other itis's I have not yet encountered. See what I mean? Exercising is not medically safe.

     Well, the dentist sauntered in and saved me from the rest of the magazine. I am sure the other patients thought I had gone mad when the hygienist commented, "Hey have you lost some weight?" and I danced around giving her a hug and a high five. That magazine had worked! It was a miracle! I was shaping up just by reading about it!

      Maybe next time I will read Forbes and become a millionaire....just like the guy who invented the napkin/clip/chain thing. He must have known it was the shape of things to come....and I am not kidding.

   



   






Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Forever Young: On Burying Yet Another Student

       Another of my students will be buried this week. As a seasoned educator, it never gets easier. The news comes over the local channels, we wait for the identification, and then the email from administration verifies that indeed, it was one of ours. As a staff, we gather details, put a grievance plan in place for the surviving student body, and pretend we have answers to an event that we can barely wrap our heads around.

       I cannot tell you the number of students that, over a 36 year career span, I have said the most final good-bye to. (And yes, I did end that sentence with a preposition, but frankly, grammar is not foremost on my mind). Some of 'my kids' have lost a battle with cancer, cystic fibrosis, military deployment,  drug overdose, car accident, and murder; the toughest is suicide. That one kicks me in the gut and never lets go. Years later, this veteran teacher will ponder every harsh word, punishment, and the ultimate insult: treating that kid as if he/she were invisible. Want to punish kids? Shun them. If there are established relationships---and I would like to think that relationship is my strongest suit inside the walls of public education--those students whom I have pushed to the far edge of my attention, will do anything to get in my good stead. It may sound harsh, but it is good for us both to get that much-needed space to reflect on our next step. Besides that, I am lousy at pushing them away for long. I miss them too much. The point here is this: once that kid is gone I question whether I gave him/her my best or my leftovers. It is both humbling and haunting.

         Today, this boy became a hand-gun statistic. A fifteen year old, making all the wrong choices, when daily-- we preached to him about making right ones. Our best, impassioned sermons of embracing life and living it to the absolute fullest, pales in the bombardment of obtaining what Hollywood dictates, combined with the acceptance that these young folks crave. Every message that coats their brain can be obtained in one easy accessory: a gun. Guns denote power, status, protection. Firearms are as easy for kids to get as buying or stealing a loaf of bread. If rims on a car,  gold chains around the neck, a cell phone replete with apps, or shoes that cost more than their textbook rental is important: this stuff will become a young person's god. Young folks will sacrifice future for the immediate.

          Oh, and before we utter, "Kids these days!" we must remember: we also repeated the mantra of youth: "It will never happen to me." This is what pushed us to drive too fast, date the bad boyfriend, lie to our parents when we came home too late. and perhaps, shoplift that jewelry that never would end up under the Christmas tree. Youth clouds our thinking. And then the trigger is pulled. Reality is the voice that calls the time of death. All of our best lectures about hope bleed out of that child and our hugs, high fives, kind words, will join him in the grave. Yet, never are we sorry that we took a moment to make that student feel valued; time spent on a child is never wasted. We must never stop loving those pupils who file into our classrooms, sizing us up, reluctant to taste what we are feeding them. I was that student who hated the walls of every school I attended. Life takes funny turns, and now I would rather be in a school room with your kids than any place else.

             But, I want all of my kids to be there, too.  Yes, the one that died on Sunday morning. The school picture flashed on the T.V.  screen does not reveal his laugh, his ninja-like leap to hang up a peer's artwork for this short teacher,  or his joy at challenging me to a basketball jump shot towards the trash can. When he volunteered to read aloud, I knew he was being brave and feeling secure in our class. School was a struggle and reading skills slumped in comparison to his athletic abilities. Yet, he got brave and maneuvered through challenging literature while this teacher hid her smile at his courage. So much I will miss, but his future is the thing I would trade my life for. He was fifteen, I am sixty-one. He could have had my unused minutes.

             Today, I help pitch-in for his burial clothes. My memories of him are like filters to my every thought. I cannot believe that this kid, frozen in time, will forever be my former 8th grade student. Like the old song by Rod Stewart, 'Forever Young' this is how it is with students. Most do grow up, graduate, marry, become parents; but in my mind, they are still that 2nd, 5th 6th, 7th, 8th grader that stole my heart.

             He came to me young and left me young. I pointed him towards tomorrow but he chose that crazy, violent moment to stay 'Forever Young'.  Another child I had to say goodbye to, way, way too soon.



         

       




   


Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Lambs Cannot Be Silenced: This Teacher Looks Back at September 11th

     The classroom is an enchanting niche. It is indeed a workplace but the tools are: wonder, questions, giggles and glue. Young minds processing curriculum--juggling it all with innocence, imperfect behavior, unlimited potential, and incredible wit.

     But Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, I unraveled the work of terrorists to my fifth grade students.  In the midst of calamity, I cradled the hope of the world. They looked right at me for answers, restored trust, to make it go away. I could find no wise words in the Teacher's Edition. State standards were never designed to address heartbreak and this issue of accountability was baffling to my kids. Who would do this? Who is to blame? Will the masterminds be caught? My students waited for my clarification, instructions, and answers for the this awful, awful test.

      As humanity huddled together we connected ourselves by television, computers, cell phones. My innocent lambs were witnessing slaughter. What I said could make or break their delicate spirits even more. I needed help. This was scary stuff.

      So there I stood, defining terrorism, confused thinking, the shape and purpose of the Pentagon, the function and structure of the World Trade Center. But I was not alone. The Almighty, who fails me never, whispered in my ear. I heard words coming from my mouth that became bandages to young souls. My voice was stacking up words of calm, healing and reason. I expounded to my pupils, "They can take our lives but they cannot take our hope."

      An assignment was given to my charges that I know some kids scribbled on their hearts: use your brilliance to prevent these acts. Love and forgive. Seek justice. I know that children can see grand colors in broken crayons, so I empowered them to bring a new balance to this skewed world.

      How I wanted to lift each student onto my lap and rock him or her as my own, dispelling their fears, and restoring their trust. But my job was to be an interpreter--a guide through the rubble, a finger pointing towards tomorrow. How blessed I am that God is at my side in the classroom (which is my mission field). I was an instrument of peace that September day, even though inside I felt broken, confused, and afraid.

       I end with the thought that came to me as my class was humming along with the song, 'America the Beautiful'.  Terrorists may interrupt the song, but they can never silence the singing. My lambs know the melody of hope. I invite the entire world to sing along with them: they know all the words.

     


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Orlando Strong: Through Dance, Spoken Word and Song

I am visiting my sisters in Orlando, Florida, an annual ritual. But this time, I feel the sadness of a madman's vengeance, taking forty-nine lives in a nightclub shooting. I must say national headlines take on a whole new tone when faced with the sad reality of actual names, photos, sentiments. Last evening, my family attended a memorial tribute at the Dr. Phillips Center of Performing Arts, entitled, 'Beautiful Together'.

It was an evening of choral music, dance, poetry, but mostly, healing. Yes, it was a fundraiser, no, it was not framed for entertainment. It was a time for folks to gather inside this lovely venue to reflect, connect, and honor those lost souls. Outside, ordinary faces of the murdered, dotting the landscape, love notes grappling with the loss of loved ones, all now famous in a gruesome, statistical mass shooting. Let me begin by saying that I was moved by the expressions of sympathy from around the world. Authentic words, lovely-yet-dying-flowers, and a somber atmosphere. It was like an ecumenical funeral. Strangers by face, ethnicity, addresses....yet pressed into one soul as hearts continued to hum that drone of grief. To me, it was fitting that every life lost that night was being honored unanimously, on many corners of this city. Outside the Pulse Nightclub, the Orlando Regional Medical Center, and now, outside this center for the performing arts.

 Is not music and dance the language of the gods? As those young folks gathered to celebrate in revelry they never dreamt that one, so full of hate and confused thinking, would exchange the Latin beat of 'musica' to the horror of rapid-fire, military-built weapons of execution. But the gathering of the 'Orlando Strong-Orlando United-Beautiful Together' was lovely. Petals fell from the ceiling onto the stage as each name was read.

When the symphony, conducted by Eric Jacobsen, began their musical story, those opening notes sounded, well, much like a pulse. I do not believe I imagined that. The soloist sang in Spanish, and while the words were foreign to my ears my heart understood completely. The conductor/cellist accompanied a ballerina in an elegant performance which---when she slipped on one of the petals, drew a gasp from the audience. Did you gasp with the the world when the breaking news of massacre flashed across our screens?

The vocal musicians tugged at our hearts with amazing arrangements of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow','You'll Never Walk Alone','Bridge Over Troubled Waters','True Colors', 'Let There Be Peace on Earth','Simple Gifts, 'Let it Be'. I only wish that for a brief refrain, we all could have sung 'Over the Rainbow' with the choirs. Why? Because as we gathered at the center, a huge rainbow had crept out of torrential rains, reminding us that love wins. The profound words of Maya Angelou, "I Will Rise" made us think, giggle, and utter a silent "Amen." The 'Adagio for Strings' by Berber, put this listener at Heaven's gate.

 I am ever grateful that folks donned their angel costumes following the performance, and encircled the memorial yard. These are the same folks who stood, side by side, to prevent hate-filled zealots' appearance to mar the victims' funerals. It was sure privilege to thank them individually for their presence; a simple gift indeed. I share this story to tell the families, whose lives will forever be changed, that strangers stand with them in the silent darkness, with heavy hearts and authentic prayers. We may not share the same god, politics, languages, yet have we all not buried that person our world cannot live without?

This incident picks the scab and scar of us all. Grief is very universal. And in these times of unexplainable circumstances, I too, turn to music. The old hymn, penned in the 1800's by: George Croly, entitled, Spirit of' God, Descend Upon my Heart' gave me this directive:

                           "Spirit of God, descend upon my heart, 
                            Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move; 
                             Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art
                             And make me love Thee as I ought to love." 

 It is pretty simple theology that we cannot love God and hate man...and this may be the most life-changing lesson of all. The city of Orlando is to be commended for taking a horrific incident and weaving it into a rather lovely tapestry of humanity. When the performance was over, we were thanked for coming. Conductor, Mr. Jacobsen, turned and humbly uttered the words, "Beautiful together." Beautiful indeed.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March Madness: Crazy Fun!

        March is here. Saint Patrick's Day is done and the first day of Spring is tomorrow. But I live in Indiana so the only thing that matters is basketball. Now, if you have heard folks say that everyone in Indiana eats and breathes basketball, then I am headed to the coroner's. Other than a little 'pig' or 'horse' basketball games in my backyard, or cheering on the grandsons at their games, I am pretty much ignorant to the NCAA hoop-la. I know. Hoosier Hysteria heresy. So why, you may ask, am I writing a blog about something I know little about? Think about that for a second. Yeah. Knew it would come to you: this is pretty much how I roll. 'Ongoing Stories of My Soul' is a blog written by a 4 foot ten lady who thinks she has something to say about most everything. Doesn't mean it is wisdom writing. Look at it like this...I am a combination of Wikipedia on crack, mothers' wit, and an old school teacher who tells every stranger her life story. See? And you take a moment to listen/read. God love ya. Back to basketball. Referring to my height, I think of that old rap tune, "If I were a little taller, I would be a baller..."

          March madness is a time for crazy fun. My oldest son has been getting together with his buddies to watch the games. I think it has been about twenty years.. For most of those gatherings they have been at the house of one (brave) guy. And someplace along the line, probably if I wanted to see my son, I showed up at the party with an NCAA cake. That was years ago. Now The Cake is expected. This is an ordinary chocolate cake with various b-ball related junk plunked down in the icing. I am no cake decorator. Nope. But the guys love it, and I love doing it. I stop by, meet and greet, and leave this pitiful pastry that they probably don't eat. I would not miss it for the world.

          Recently, at the middle school where I teach, the staff put the kids on the bus and met to fill out their bracket sheets. There was fun, food, and speculation on who would win. But there was so much more. It was a much-need stress reliever for educators who have had to maneuver through standardized testing, parent conferences, report cards, and the daily grind of dealing with 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Those silly brackets put a new and fresh spin on another wearing school day. But that's not all. These same great teachers used the Final Four as lessons involving math calculations, probability, diagramming, and brought a new learning objective to that reluctant student: a lesson with meaning and a touch of fun. Oh my! When that kid said to me, "I can't wait for Tuesday---the brackets begin!" he eagerly set out to finish his homework related to this event. Game on.

           When it comes to March, a little bit of madness keeps us sane. The presidential campaigns are lunacy and tax day is less than a month away. Spring breaks are upon us and parents are figuring out how to keep their jobs and kids happy, in tandem. Oh, did I mention that those campaigns and debates keep the bile rising into our throats? Give us basketball, baseball, even curling-- if it takes our mind off that political debacle.

            We've come a long way since Naismith nailed a peach basket to the barn and threw a ball in it. I bet he is proud. And surprised. High schools, colleges, even pick-up games in the alley create the balance we need to a stressful existence. Big business? Oh yeah. I mean, we have the Pacers, the NCAA Headquarters and games in my hometown. The movie, 'Hoosiers' was based on the Milan team that had an unbelievable victory during Indiana high school basketball tourney time. You mention IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, Butler, and you have to be talking about Indy. That Ferrell kid from IU has done pretty well. Our local newspaper had a sweet photo of him after the IU victory. I cut it out of the paper to take to his little sister (she attends my school). Just a cute picture of her big brother who happens to play basketball. In Indiana. At IU. In March. And wins.

           I would love to go on and impress you even more with my March Madness Memories. But I will close with this observation. As cheesy as it sounds, those brackets fasten us to some great traditions, and many have little to do with winning a game. Face it....the March Madness keeps us a little bit sane. It is a good diversion to our layered days; a time for friends to reconnect, employees to choose teams while they become a closer team, themselves. A game where colleges are show-cased and the buzzer makes or breaks victories. It is basketball; pure and simple fun.

         And to think that I am a wee bit part of it. All I have to do is bring the cake.

         



   

Sunday, March 6, 2016

If Dr. Seuss Took ISTEP (Or Any Other Standardized Test)

      Well, this past week was one of polar opposites. Grades 3-8 students were immersed in taking the ISTEP, which is Indiana's standardized test. The children in K-2 classrooms were celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday, which was March 2nd, and is always part of the 'Read Across America' initiative complete with Seuss activities galore. See what I mean? The same day in which Indiana kids were either celebrating reading, or plodding through it to place in a certain percentile.

       With four of my grandchildren, I was reminding them to go to bed early, get a good breakfast and have that number two pencil, well-sharpened and ready to go. With my other grandchildren, I was hunting up my Dr. Seuss hats, books, t-shirts, and shoes. Why, yes I do have a pair of tennis shoes with the Cat in the Hat picture and Seuss's name emblazoned on them. Am I rich or what? No Jimmy Choos in this closet, but I am rocking my Seuss shoes. I know you are jealous. But back to the debacle at hand.

       As I delved into that ISTEP abyss, I saw the pressure, fear of failure, and stress my sixth graders exhibited. My jovial, loving connection with these kids would soon be replaced by educational alienation. I read directions. I proctor. I write the time on the board. I am a jail warden without the uniform. I feel as though I am betraying them when I am asked a question I cannot answer. The mantra is the same: "I can't answer that. Just do your best." And we all know, they can't do their best without me.  I hate every second of standardized testing.

        But then my imagination pulled me to the Seuss side.  I wondered what it would look like if Dr. Seuss---albeit, any of his characters took a test like ISTEP? Let's give it a whirl.

                                                Dr. Seuss Takes a Standardized Test
                
                               On the second of March in the Jungle of School
                               Dr Seuss was waiting to begin the I Test Like a Fool;
                               He had his crayons: purple, orange, and bright blue
                               But all were replaced with a pencil named Two.

                               "I am so excited to show what I know
                                And describe to the Testers all the places I'll go;
                               I'll tell them great jokes and rock this room with laughter-
                               I'm certain that joy is what they are after.

                                I'll show them I'm loving and that I am kind,
                                And share all my answers to those who fall behind.
                                I'll bring out my glitter, my sequins and glue
                                And show my creativity to the Testers and you!

                                And if we get scared-from our shirts to our pants-
                                I'll lead the class in a brave and bold dance;
                                We'll whistle and wiggle and I'll play the kazoo
                                The Testers will thrill at the dances we'll do!"

                                But the teacher glared at Seuss, and said, "We'll have none of that-
                                The I Test Like a Fool is not 'Cat in the Hat'
                                It is dark, hard, confusing and strains your brainy
                                It is serious and stuffy, like cloudy and rainy.

                                You must not speak, but instead, think and plot
                                If you are nervous, the Testers care not.
                                I will read strange directions and stare at the clock
                                I will wring my hands and pace like a fox.

                               Some will do well, and others will plummet
                               To the depths of percentiles 'cause you simply can't 'sum' it;
                               The story you write must fit on these lines 
                               Even though the best parts are still in your minds.

                                Now I am your teacher and I know you 'by heart'
                                I marvel at your compassion and know you are smart;
                                And if you don't pass, don't think you are dull
                                Because these numbers don't measure the whole YOU at all.

                              I know you may struggle, but when I look in your eyes 
                              I do not see failure, but instead I see 'tries'
                              So do not think you're worthless if you botch up this test
                              You will do just fine because you are the best!"
                                
     Well, my apologies to the great Theodor Geisel who penned books with fun and nonsense so kids would cuddle up to their grown-ups and plead, "Read it to me again!" And in the process these little ones' minds were mastering receptive language and unraveling this ominous process called literacy. I have taught reading for thirty-six years, and I am amazed any of us can do it---and in thousands of languages! Our brain is so amazing! And so much more fun when wearing a Dr. Seuss hat.

    If Horton Hears a Who, it probably will be me. "A person's a person's no matter how small"-- but 'Do Not Pass' a standardized test and that's not true at all. Tomorrow is a new day. Time to put the Grinch to bed and look forward to all of the 'creachas' coming into my classroom eager to use their glue, glitter, and goofy selves to rock my world.

     You Testers don't know what you're missing.