Tag Archives: school

The First Day of School

1 Aug

I’m often asked about why our district starts on a Friday instead of just waiting until Monday. The reason is, is that opening day glitches always occur and instead of having only a 16 hour turn-around time, we have more than 48 hours to work things out. And there are always things to work out. For instance I know that several bus drivers had not driven their routes before having to pick up children this morning. I know of at least one who got had no idea how to get to the child’s house before calling late last night to let them know the bus number and time of pick-up. Other issues include not enough books, not enough desks, issues with the cafeteria and basically all of the logistics.

As a teacher, the first day of school can be a very long and painful process, and we are very thankful to have a weekend the next day! No matter how much planning is done, it is never enough until the kids come. And there are usually surprises. In this case, my program was really surprised. At the end of last year, it looked like we were losing some kids as they were going to be attending their home schools. However one appealed and the other moved simply to remain in our school zone. In addition to the one new student I knew we were supposed to get (who didn’t show up) we got a new one who moved into our zone. So that zone next door had exactly one student show up, while we seemed swamped with 6! And there are more coming. I didn’t expect to feel this short this fast.

In other news, Georgia is once again observing a sales tax holiday this weekend. It started yesterday and is supposed to be for school clothes and supplies. And once again, teachers are getting a $100 gift card so that we can buy some needed supplies. I’m looking for some news on this, but apparently I’m going to be the one breaking it:

The Georgia Department of Education has received reports from teachers that some merchants are experiencing difficulties processing payments involving Teacher Gift Cards.

The Department has communicated these issues to Bank of America who has determined that there is an issue with the scan feature of the Teacher Gift Cards. Bank of America has assured the State that the problem will be corrected by tomorrow morning – Saturday August 2.

Bank of America recommends that if gift cards are used before tomorrow morning, merchants manually enter gift card information instead of using the scan feature.

The Georgia Department of Education regrets any inconvenience and greatly appreciates your patience as we work to resolve this issue as expediently as possible

Regards,

____________________________________
Scott D. Austensen, CFA
Deputy Superintendent, Finance & Bus. Opns.
Georgia Department of Education

So there you have it. Teachers have to wait until tomorrow to use their gift cards because Bank of America has screwed them up. Why not just give us all $100 in cash? No glitches to worry about there! The reason for the gift cards is so that teachers who often dig into their own pockets for items won’t have to dig as deep. It’s along the same lines as the federal $250 deductions that teachers can take for buying stuff for our classroom s. It’s kind of an effort by the governor and the state legislature to buy more votes. In this case, teacher votes.

This year, we’re going to end up buying more than usual because the orders for supplies that we filed last February have not even been sent. So I can either buy my own stuff or ask parents to supply it for me. I don’t ask too much as the parents of my students are not rich by any stretch. They have their own needs and expenses, and I have learned to deal with what we have, mostly. But I think we’re going to need more bean bags for positioning and I’ll need more media storage space to back up computer files. The one thing I need most, but can’t really buy, is more time. I’ll just have to do better with the time that I have!

See you next week!

Pre-Planning

28 Jul

Well, we are back!  And so am I.  It’s back to the same program and the same room.  If I want to do something else, I’m going to have to transfer to a different school because they are never going to replace me and there isn’t a lot of motivation for anyone to even look for a replacement as long as I’m around.  In many ways, it was stressful to think about transferring to a new position, but in other ways it was stressful thinking about NOT transferring!  My desire and commitment for change will be tested ultimately by my willingness to make it a more major move to another building with all new people and administrators and grade levels.

But in the meantime, I have students here who need me and I’m going to do my best to make it a banner year for them and for me.  I’m going to do everything possible to make it such an outstanding year that everyone else in the building will weep bitterly at my departure!  It’s about being proactive and making things happen and advancing.  That’s going to be the hardest thing, but it’s the most important thing.  I need to really reach and strain ahead.  I need condition myself into stretching.

That’s me, giving myself a pep talk!

Each year there are always changes.  This year, I get to meet the 4th principal I’ve had since starting at this school 9 years ago.  It seems like people come and go so quickly around here!  The new guy looks like he’s trying to tighten things up around here and he has a big job ahead of him.  Our school was among the 52% of Georgia high schools that failed to make AYP this past year.  We have to make it this year in order to keep off of the dreaded “Needs Improvement” list.  As a county district, we also failed for the first time ever, to make AYP.  And it’s going to be harder to do that in order to meet the federally funded mandate of 100% by 2014.  So we can expect every school in the country to be on the Needs Improvement list by 2016.  Students with disabilities continue to be the major subgroup that cause a school or district to fail.  It’s ridiculous to think that every single student is going to master rigorous curriculum standards at the same rate or with equal proficiency as everyone else.  No accommodation or modification is going to erase the reality that some students are not going to learn everything we teach them, even if they want to.  And politicians seem to ignore the reality that there is a small percentage that just doesn’t care that much about doing well in school at any given time. 

Preplanning involves lots of meetings and getting to know new teachers and staff.  It also involves training my own folks and setting the pace for the coming year.  We’ve gotten our room pretty much straightened out.  This isn’t a small task since they removed some teacher desks. And moved everything around when they redid our floor.   I’m going to do my best to have a good attitude this year and fend off the weariness that got to me last year.

D.