About Me

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San Clemente, CA, United States

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rule Book

I sure wish there was a rule book on life so that I could refer to it when making decisions.

I got an email today from a girl I dated in Fort Worth, Texas in 1999. I had gone to Texas to teach and coach because I had needed to get out of Arizona. I wasn't running from the law, I was running from my ex-wife who I like to call, "The Devil." After she carved out my heart, I felt like a failure for a few months. I felt that people looked at me differently. "There's the guy who couldn't keep his wife." Then a friend slapped me around a bit and I decided a fresh start in a new state would be a great idea.

I took a job teaching math and coaching football and I hated Texas from the minute the humidity of the summer started pissing me off. Every day was just oppressive. Plus, work was no fun. No kids to meet me halfway and actually give a damn about their education. We were inner-city and it was ugly. Hundreds of gang fights. Must have been one a day. I

But, I made the best of it, was voted Rookie of the Year by the staff, and had a decent year. Midway through, I wasn't even thinking about dating (ok, thats a lie) when I met the drama teacher at our school.

Holy crap what a hottie. Gorgeous in a girl next door kind of way. I had to find a way to meet her so I made up this ridiculously bad excuse. "One of my students is failing badly. You have her too, how are you getting through to this kid?" Worked like a charm. We talked all lunch about education and the kids at Eastern Hills. Super nice. Super sweet. I made it a point to get in her room at least 3X a week just to chat and say hi. She would come to my room every now and again too. We were becoming friends. Super smart. Super funny. 3 months into her divorce. We pledged not to talk about our divorces with each other but we always did. We laughed, cried, and everything in between. In March she told me she had never met anyone like me. In May we went to the movies together, had dinner, and shared a kiss. The next day was a bit awkward at work and we didn't speak about it. Neither of us knew if we should just pull the trigger. I moved too slow.

The year ended and I was packing up to move to Manhattan Beach, CA to get the hell out of Texas. On my last day, with my truck packed and gassed, she came by to say goodbye. We kissed again. Long, passionate. I looked in her eyes and knew she loved me. Then I got in my truck and left.

What if I had stayed? She was special. How do I NOT turn off the truck and take her in my arms?


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Teacher of the Year

I was just voted Teacher of the Year by the teachers at Dana Hills High School.

About a month ago, teachers were asked to nominate a Teacher of the Year candidate and the top 3 nominees would be voted upon. Well, I was nominated. (no, not by me. I nominated Nate Ritcher because he is an outstanding Physics teacher and that sets us apart from many other schools) I must have been named on a number of ballots because on December 18 (ok, so I remember the date, sue me) an email was sent out to all 120 teachers with the names of the 3 Teacher of the Year finalists. My name was first on the list.

Wow. I think I just stared at it for awhile. Really unexpected. I'm pretty rough around the edges and awkward socially. I ROUTINELY open my mouth when I should keep it shut, and I have blasted a few crappy teachers. I really didn't expect this.

I knew I had a few fans on campus. Just a few I thought. The people who have walked in my door and watched me teach know that I do a pretty good job but teachers rarely see other teachers teach. We are teaching when they are. All we know is what our students tell us about their other classes.

Final voting for the honor was not until January 14. I had a lot of time to think about it. My final thought was this. I would rather not be nominated than be nominated and lose. Most people would think, "oh, what an honor just to be considered out of so many." Nope. Not for me. I'd just feel like a loser.

Yes I voted for my self and yes I won. That was yesterday so I haven't had much time to think about it fully. I do know one thing. I was feeling a little bit good about myself as I left Trader Joe's last night. I was feeling validated, loved, respected, and I think I may have had a bounce in my step. This was going to be my year. I publish my book and I check off a number of other items on my bucket list. I put my groceries in the trunk and as I am about to get in my car, I notice the bird shit. Must have been 4 big shots on the hood, one one the windshied, and 2 on the convertible top. I looked at all the cars parked around me. Nothing. NOTHING. I look up. No tree. This is gonna be my year.

My dad said that the award is only good for a more sensationalized headline if I ever get arrested. "Former Teacher of the Year Arrested for ........." Thanks Pops.

The bird shit and my dad were good things. Brought me back to baseline. What an honor but c'mon.

Kids talk to me all the time about their other classes and other teachers. I have a pretty good idea of what goes on in a lot of classrooms. (don't assume I believe everything teenagers say) I think I'd put myself at number 12 of the most important and best teachers at Dana. No way I'm the teacher of the year. How does this happen.

It will almost be harder to look them all in the eye. Will I feel like a fraud? Do they expect that every moment in my classes are magical? Now I feel I have to be Teacher of the Year worthy. This award is going to make me work harder every day to deserve it. That is what I'm going to do with this honor. I'm using it as a motivation to be great every minute of every day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mr. Lopez-Maddox


You were quoted recently in the OC Register. Your statements if accurate, offend me.

"This is nothing more than a drill by the people who lost the last two elections to intimidate and attempt to get a pay raise for the teachers union, which we can hardly afford. I've been elected and overwhelmingly re-elected. Our test scores have never been higher."

Sir, my problem is your last statement. If you are takiing ANY credit for MY students test scores, then your ego is writing checks your body can't cash. (who gets a chance to write that? I win) Seriously though. Sir, here is what you should have said. "Our test scores have never been higher. Hats off to the students, their families and their teachers. THEY deserve a bunch of credit." That would have been classy. No, you decided that YOU, a man I have never seen in my class, in my school, or even in my community take credit for their successes. Shame on you.

High scores are earned by students whose parents insist on academic excellence and push their children to great successes. PARENTS deserve the credit for any high test scores.
High scores are earned by students who sit every day, 185 days and listen and participate and learn and retain information. Students who understand that being educated means something. Students who get it that their actions today matter. STUDENTS deserve the credit for any high test scores.
High scores ar earned by the students of teachers who prepare them well. I'm the guy who learned the standards, prepared lessons to address them, built assessments that included standards type testing, worked with my department to write common assessments, shared best practices with my team, assessed data routinely, planned the curriculum to cover every standard before the testing date, AND STOOD AND DELIVERED EVERY FLIPPIN DAY. How dare you take any credit for these successes. TEACHERS deserve the credit for any high test scores.

I hate everyone.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Full Circle

In my 17 years as a teacher, I have seen a 180 degree change in the public's perception of me.

When I began teaching, I think the public thought, "Oh what a noble profession". I think that translated into something like. "What an idiot, he's never going to make any money". It was assumed, accurately, that I taught math because I loved it, was good at it, and was willing to never make the big money. I know my friends were laughing at my salary. I know it because they did it to my face. . And most of these guys worked construction or something. In a year where I was making $27,000, a friend of mine who installed kitchen cabinets PART TIME made $36,000.

I NEVER complained. I knew I picked a job that limited what I could make but I like what I do and that is worth something to me.

Then slowly, I started making more. Teachers would get 2% cost of living increases every year and after 17 years of this, compounding, .... well, I'm making more money now.

Well, today in a blog teachers were painted as overpaid union hack/mobsters. Wow.

Teachers used to be commended for what they did. Now they are attacked. Overpaid? C'mon. But, this recent turn of events has helped me come to a stunning conclusion about humankind. "If I'm struggling, I hope everyone is struggling."