02 February 2013

Second Semester

A few highlights from this semester so far:

One week into school, the second-floor water heater pried itself from the wall and threw itself three feet to its death, after which it leaked over most of the second floor and dripped through to the first floor. Sarah and I got the call around 8:35, just before we were going to leave for school.

"No school today!" said Emily.

"Is it snowing?"

"The school flooded. Oh, the power just went out!"

We threw on sweatpants and walked toward ECA, commenting, "If second floor flooded, Merry's going to be really angry." Merry, the teacher who's been at ECA since nearly its beginning, doesn't like people messing with her plans. Mother Nature has been known to quake in her path. It was sunny when we entered the building, but the inside was a rainstorm. And then we saw the water-filled ceiling tiles, the rivulets running from top to bottom, soaking mops flying across the hallway in the hands of high schoolers. We looked into Sarah's room. "Aw, crap."

The desk was drenched; the stuffed animals were swimming.

So we mopped and we slopped. We dropped piles of ceiling tile crumbs into buckets and aimed hairdryers over sopping teacher's manuals. We stayed until 1pm, long enough for the floors to start drying, for the maintenance man to drill extra water-release holes in Sarah's ceiling, for the insurance guys to start roaming the building. Long enough to laugh with our coworkers over dripping walls and books spread across a makeshift clothesline. Long enough to be glad that I work in a place like this.


Also during that week, one of my 8th graders didn't finish his vocab homework. As usual. So I sent him outside the room to work on it while the rest of us corrected our work. As usual. Then I forgot about him.

Five minutes before the bell rang, one of his friends asked, "Hey, where's David?"

I slapped my hand across my mouth. "Oh my goodness! I totally forgot about him!"

That's when one of the more clever boys suggested we make a music video. The song? Somebody That I Used to Know. "We could pan across the class," he said, "and then zoom out the door to the far table where David is sitting alone."


Last week, our friend Emily celebrated her birthday. We made her a Fudgie the Whale cake, which probably no one knows or cares about unless they are fans of The Office. Which we happen to be.

After carving and eating Fudgie, another teacher found a Fudgie the Whale song on youtube, and three of us agreed that we needed to play it during classtime, to test whether any of our students noticed. I had the song going when my 8th and 9th graders entered and exited, and some of those high schoolers were definitely moving to the music. Almost imperceptibly, but still moving. One left humming the tune; another was softly singing, "Punching the whale, punching the whaaaale..."

Adam reported later in the day that he'd brought Fudgie up in class discussion ("What exactly is a Fudgie the whale?") before playing the song, and Steph remarked that several students commented how weird it was that three different teachers were playing the exact same song that day. The sad part is that I'm not certain they realized the deliberate orchestration of our plan. The good part, however, is that I feel we have mastered a form of low-level mind control.


My former roommate Steph got married in Colorado at 2pm Mountain Time. At 10pm Central European Time, a group of us gathered in the ECA science room to watch via webcam. It was like a Who's Who of ECA friends: "There's Scot! There's Marie! Did you see Jim and Beth?!" And we in our fancy dresses and ties sat in high school desks, ate finger foods, and yelled at the screen when the computer went to sleep. It was like a SuperBowl party. It was one of the best weddings I've attended.

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