A few days ago, I had the good fortune, (Divine intervention), to run into a former student and his family. He is a young man with severe behavior problems and has difficulty in the school setting. When I met him, he was in fifth grade, he could barely read or write and was at least three grade levels behind academically. Now, he’s about 20 pounds heavier, a few inches taller, about five grade levels behind academically and still cannot read or write very well.
Public schools have demonstrated an impressive ability to move and flex with the most trying times. The abrupt end of the school year and transition from the classroom to online learning has had its snags and hiccups, but the reports I’m hearing are increasingly positive as it relates to smooth instruction and student satisfaction. Student “attendance” is spotty and many students don’t attend their online class tim. However, those who do seem to like, or at least not mind, connecting with their teachers virtually.
My late father was a house prestidigitator. He could turn anything into a home. Looking back, I realize it was his presence and demeanor, more than anything, that made 4 walls feel like a sanctuary. To a little girl, however, it was just good old daddy magic. Most of us can live an entire lifetime and never know anyone who moved a house, releasing a house from its moorings and physically relocating it to a different place. My father did this twice. I entered the world in 1967 and waltzed into a used singlewide trailer on a 3 acre tract of land in an unincorporated Bermuda Triangle of real estate that was not quite anywhere. We lived in that trailer until I was 4. A couple of years prior, my dad was in Pleasant Grove buying supplies for the laundromat he owned. That’s how I remember the story. Maybe he was grabbing a burger from Griff’s or taking us to eat at his favorite restaurant, Charco Broilers. Regardless, while driving down Buckner Boulevard, he noticed a large sign tacked onto the front of an empty church: FREE – TO BE MOVED. Daddy had the brain of an engineer and the passion of an academy award winning actor. He had the church moved to our corner of paradise and spent 2 years morphing it into a home. Seven gables turned into 3. The stained glass windows were removed. Salvage materials were used on the interior. Who wouldn’t want red indoor/outdoor carpet or blue paneled walls? I don’t remember trailer life. I just remember the childhood that dreams are made of in that church turned house, with a mother who taught me to sew and a father who cast spells that made odd mismatched things look beautiful and new. The trailer became our own self-storage unit. I was terrified of it. “DD, that ____ is in the trailer. Will you go get it?” The trailer meant weird smells & mice. The trailer was where the failed magic tricks lived: broken hair salon dryer chairs & old commercial meat slicers from Daddy’s bacon slicing phase. I was not a trailer fan.
The Coronavirus has done quite a job shaking up education in our nation’s schools. In the unprecedented move to close schools 2 months early, what appears to be the lack of a national education disaster plan has forced education administrators to explore creative ways to ensure students are receiving instruction. The good news is, it appears we have discovered there are things we can do with and without in our schools in the COVID-19 season. The following are ideas that may need further exploration when we return to our post-virus normal, if there is such a thing.
2013 was a banner year for us. We bought a ramshackle little bungalow with a 5” leveling issue from corner to corner, and I quit my job. I only knew I was tired of flying out on Mondays and flying home on Saturdays, only to get up and start the process from scratch. When I approached my boss about doing more work in Texas proper, she added Colorado and Florida to my Minnesota, Louisiana, Illinois, & Texas territory. What I didn’t know is that I would receive the blessing of getting to know my father again, shepherding him to the VA for doctor appointments, and losing him in 5 years. I became a SAHD (stay at home daughter). Every moment was cherished. You know what else I did the moment I stopped traveling? I watched every single episode of I Love Lucy, in order. Sorry, all you Friends fans. Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe may be funny, but they’re hen scratch compared to Ethel & Lucy. There is a Lucy episode relative to every stage of life. What’s my favorite episode? Vitameatavegamin? Madame X? The serial killer and the watercress sandwiches? Grape stomping? John Wayne’s footprints? I can’t pick a favorite. My life took a turn this week, though, in a 50’s parallel of unprecedented proportions. Remember the time Lucy was furious at Ricky because he wouldn’t pick up after himself so she staged their living room as a hillbilly haven complete with overalls, a chili bowl hairdo, and live chickens? Turns out that was the night Look magazine was coming to do the cover story on the Ricardos at home. Sometimes, you can’t win for losing.