Friday, December 4 - Jesus and the Copy Machine

We have a copy machine in one of our faculty rooms. It’s a dinosaur. It’s so old, they can’t even get parts for it anymore and pieces of it are actually missing. But despite the abuse it got, it kept plugging along.

Last year, there was a rumor that the machine was going and there would be another one. Well that didn’t happen. Something about the budget not being passed the year before, I think. So we kept the service contract on it, and kept our fingers crossed that if it needed to be fixed the repairman could make it happen. And thankfully they did.

Then, at the end of June when the service contract expired, the decision was made not to renew. Why spend the money and take the chance? We still had to pay for the toner cartridges which are about $400. So the copier was left to die a slow death.

Sometime over the summer, the machine started faltering. Messages were appearing on an almost daily basis saying that the toner was low, or it needed a different size paper, or that there was a paper jam. It really didn’t know what it was it needed because most of the time these things were fixable by just turning the machine off and on again. But we knew that the toner was low and there was just no way that we were going to spend another $400 to replace the cartridge. So we just ignored the messages.

Well, that all started in July when there were only one or two teachers who were using it. Then came September when everyone returned and the word spread quickly that the copier was on it’s last legs. Day-to-day really. This didn’t stop them from using it however.

It also didn’t stop the service company from trying to collect monthly service payments. Each month when the statement came in, I would call them and tell them that we hadn’t renewed the contract and they would assure me that it would be taken off the books and we wouldn’t receive any more mailings.

The machine made it through September. We got another bill. I called. Same message.

The machine made it through October. By now we were referring to it as the miracle machine comparing the toner to the “fishes and loaves”, because for all intents and purposes, there was no way it should have lasted that long.

Then it made it through October. Once again, we were billed. Once again I called and tried to explain to them that this machine didn’t deserve service it deserved to die a quiet death. I was overheard making this statement and had some people really concerned that I was actually talking about a living being.

Well, once again, I was assured that we would no longer get billed for monthly service. And, shortly before I went on leave, the machine finally printed it’s last copy.

Now I don’t know if those bills were the magic that kept it alive. But I do know that there was probably a lot of prayer going on by the staff to keep the blessed thing operating as long as it did.

Oh, and I checked my work e-mail last week (I had some more surgery and have been out on sick leave) and guess what? They’ve ordered a new copier!!!!

I hope they don’t think they’ll always get what they pray for.

Friday, November 6 - What Did You Say?

We have an afterschool program held at school know as INTRAMURALS.  The students sign up and for ten sessions they can basically have an extended phys ed period afterschool. 

The rules are that once your parent signs you up, you must stay unless you have a note saying otherwise. 
These notes prove to be very interesting based on the name of the program alone.

"Intramurals" becomes, most often "Intermurals".  A common and understandable mistake.  Inter- meaning between or within and Intra- meaning within or between.  It does seem that they are interchangeable.

But the not-so-common mistakes are the funniest.  Especially when the student comes up to the office to phone home to remind mom and/or dad that there are no......

instramurals today......

instramentals today........

and, yes, this week I heard......

no interrment today.

Then there are those who clearly know that they're going to get it wrong and just put down...

After School Sports.

That'll do.

Friday, October 30 - Rambling On

I may only be a school clerk, but I am a damn good one.  I should be - I've been doing this job for 5+ years now and I've worked in the school system for over 20 years.  I'd just like to know why people feel the need to tell me how to do my job assuming that I haven't done it. 

Case in point - a note from a STUDENT AIDE telling me to please add the new student to the class roster - two weeks after he started.  She did this because his name had to be written in on the attendance sheet.  

Hello STUDENT AIDE the reason his name is written in on that sheet is because it was printed before he started.  Don't you think that I know there's a new student!!!!  I registered him!!!!  I made sure that there was a desk in the room for him!!!!   I got him a student agenda!!!!!   I informed the school staff by e-mail that he was starting school two weeks ago and that we should welcome him!!!!!  I've been doing this job for 5 years and I don't need little post-it notes from you telling me what to do!!!!!

Said note coming on the day we were celebrating Halloween.  Yes, I was going to be a witch, but I'll trade the w for a b right now.  Do your own job. 

Same aide last week asked if she could have an "adult chair" in the classroom because using a student chair bothered her back.  Not having any additional "teacher chairs" we, the secretary and I, suggested that temporarily she use a folding chair (adult size) until we could check with the principal about getting her a chair. 

Before he even walks into the office, STUDENT AIDE stops him and tells him her need for an "adult chair".  She tells him that she asked us for one and that we don't have one.  Never relates the suggestion we made.

Hey sweetheart, do you really think that your having a chair is the most important thing to bombard him with when he comes in the door!!!  You told us and we'll relate your predicament to the principal - we really will.  We know how to do our job.  Do your own job.

Change the w to a b again.

And since I'm reminding people what their job is - this one is for the SCHOOL NURSE.

We're in the middle of a nationwide medical crisis.   If you have a student report to you that has thrown up during lunch or has a fever - YOU sit with him in YOUR office and wait until his mother gets here before you take your lunch.  I am not a nurse, I am not a babysitter, and anyone who is actually sick should not be sitting in the front office possibly exposing everyone who walks in to their sickness!!! 

That's a big B.

Whew, that felt better.  Wanna see what made me smile this week? 

One of our teachers' husbands came back from a business trip to Japan and brought back these delicious cookies that she shared with us.  I thought it looked like it was smiling.   Wasn't she sweet to make sure that we got one from the box she put in the faculty room. 

Now, ask me what kind of Halloween treats were shared with us after we delivered all the cookies, brownies, cupcakes, fruit, yogurt, candy, etc. to the classrooms yesterday for their parties?  ONE teacher saved us a cupcake.  And yes, I did eat it.  After fielding phone calls all day about the time the Halloween parade started, answering the doorbell for parents delivering party goods, and getting stupid post it notes from STUDENT AIDE, I needed a cupcake!

Friday, October 23 - Custodial Mail

The head of our district custodial department has his office in a garage behind our building, therefore all his mail comes through our office.  Part of my job is to put the mail in the assigned mailboxes.  We really had fun with this one:

Friday, October 16 - Under the Bus

Getting thrown under the bus - I'm beginning to hate that phrase.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think we can thank reality TV for it.   I've been accused of throwing one of my teachers under the bus.  Not to my face, mind you.  But word gets around quickly.

My job during fire drills is to stand in the main lobby across from the office and monitor the exits that are visible from that position.  I have a walkie-talkie in hand which I use to communicate to the principal who, with the custodian, has tripped the alarm and is monitoring the back exits of the school.  When everyone is safely out of the building we turn off the alarm and give the classes time to line up outside before calling them back in. 

We are required to have two fire drills a month and the exit from the building must be done within a certain amount of time.  Every classroom is assigned a particular exit so that we can clear the building as quickly as possible.  With that in mind, when the principal comes back in he usually asks for the time and if there were any laggers or problems.

During our last fire drill I was positioned in my normal place.  I checked the rest rooms and cleared them before we pulled the alarm.  I noticed that there was a teacher who was coming toward me who should have been going out another exit.  She had four students in tow, literally holding them by the hand and dragging them down the hallway and out the door.

When the drill was complete and the classes came in I checked the fire exit map in the office and it clearly showed the teacher had taken the wrong route.  But, I felt I needed to check the exit map in her room before I said anything as I am responsible for putting those maps in the room and I thought it might be possible that I had made a mistake. 

I knocked on her door and asked to check the map and said that I thought she might have used the wrong exit.  She explained that she was looking for a student that she had sent to the office and I left the room.

On the way back to the office I met up with the principal and, as he usually does, he asked how things went.  I explained to him what had happened and he said he would talk to the teacher.  You don't go looking for anyone during a fire drill - you exit the building at your assigned exit as quickly as possible unless it is blocked. 

This happened two weeks ago and she is still telling people that I "threw her under the bus" with the principal and that I should apologize.  Oh, and she's not speaking to me either. 

I've been in a school when there was a real fire and I take these drills very seriously.  There's no room for deviation or debate.  No one but the principal, the teacher and myself would even have been aware of his talk with her if she hadn't made it a point to tell everyone. 

Tell me if you think I'm wrong, but I don't think I should apologize for doing my job.

Friday, October 9 - Who's the Wise Guy?

A third grade student walks into the office and says to the teacher....

I need something for dry skin.

What does this look like, a pharmacy?


You need the nurse.


You know how I knew that?


I have ESP.

(he looks confused now)

Do you know what ESP is?


It means I can read your mind.


By the way, how is your teacher today?

............without the slightest hint of hesitation and a twinkle in his eye............

Read my mind.

Sometimes I love my job!

Friday, October 2 - Notes From Home

My e-mail to the staff today:

Good Morning Team CSI B........g,

I received a note in the basket this morning written in purple ink on one of the Note To School forms:

To: Main Office

From: Ellen alkjdglksajnl;skjd;lksaj

Date: 10/1/09

Subject: Intramurals (where the small print asks for the student name!)

The box “OTHER” is checked with the following note:

“will not be continuing the intramurals”

I have no idea of the HR, the student, or the parent.


Friday, September 25 - Complaint of the Day

Any number of things can and do go wrong in the course of the day at school.  And usually, they are accompanied by complaints. 

If I had a nickel for every complaint that I hear, well, it could prove to be very lucrative.

Today we got the usual complaints - my room is too hot, my room is too cold, blah, blah, blah.  You know Goldilocks doesn't work here, because we never hear "It's just right!"

The complaint of the day, the one that nearly put me over the edge -

"We need to get bigger garbage bags for our classroom garbage cans."


"They don't seem to be big enough.  I have dirty tissues all over the place because the bags are too small and there's not enough room."

So as I'm staring in disbelief, wondering how to respond, another teacher points out that the bags are big enough, but because the custodians cinch them around the top of the can the air gets trapped and pushes up.  "You just need to let the air out between the bag and the can and they're fine" she adds.

So then it was suggested that we need to "teach" the custodians how to put a garbage bag in the garbage can letting the air out because certainly it's not the teacher's job to do that. 

Some days I'd like to "teach" some people something.

Friday, September 18 - Spell Check Anyone!

What can I say other than "I didn't type it."? 
Would you believe that this has been copied and used as is for the last four years!
Finally this year a parent noticed.
How great to find out in the first week of school that not only can't the teacher spell, she's also politically incorrect!

Friday, September 11 - Alternate Forms of Transportation

Having a seat in the front office that faces the driveway gives you a birds eye view of the comings and goings in the school. 

I have seen the children arrive in busses, of course.  That is the main mode of transportation in our district. 

And I've seen just about any kind of van, SUV, sedan, and the occasional sports car.  There have even been one or two motorcycles.  Oh, and once a year, as a prize for a local fund raiser, one child gets to ride to school in a police car with a friend.

But today was something totally new.  Today someone arrived at school in a tow truck with their 7-month-old car on the back of the truck.

Guess who that was?

Give up?


I guess I can cross that off my bucket list!

Friday, September 4 - Shoe Shopping

Imagine a panel truck rolling right up to the front door of your workplace, the driver parks, opens the back and pulls out some nice chairs and a carpet runner.  Then he pulls down a small set of stairs so you can climb right into the back and............... wait for it...............go shoe shopping.  

Well, if you want steel tipped work shoes it can happen!  I saw it with my own eyes.  Right outside the front door of the school I work in. 

I'm thinking if they did this for the teachers, they might need a tractor trailer full of choices. 

Of course you'd have the sensible flats and rubber-soled shoes.  But you'd also have the stylish heels, with straps or platforms for the young teachers who have not yet felt the effects of "teacher's legs" aka varicose veins. 

Oh, yeah, and there'd be at least one token row of penny loafers, boat shoes, and oxfords for the men.

Friday, August 28 - A Different Destination

I'm on vacation this week and in keeping with the plan for the week - to do nothing involved with work - I won't be posting a Friday CPR today. 

Instead I am redirecting your attention to an article written by a blogging friend of mine who happens to be a teacher with a lot of insight.  Her blog is wonderful and she also writes a newspaper column.  Whether you have children in school now or not, or whether you have been a teacher or worked with children, you will enjoy this post of hers. 

To the teacher, from the mom......

Friday, August 21 - Who's Distracted?

I was in the examining room at my doctor's office today and saw this sign:

Please refrain from
using cell phones during
your examination.
They are a distraction
for our dedicated staff.


I want a sign that says:

Please refrain from
using cell phones
in our office.
We really don't want
to know what you did
this weekend.
We'd much rather know
who you are and why
you are here.
Or better yet, who the
dirty sneakers you just
dropped on the counter
belong to.

Friday, August 14 - Custodial Caution

As I was walking down the hallway to deliver something this week I thought I might have wandered into a crime scene.

You see, our custodians got hold of some of that yellow caution tape and tied up all the bathroom doors. It took me a while to figure out why they did that.

As they finished cleaning the bathrooms they taped them up like that so no one would use them. That way they didn't have to keep cleaning them everyday.

Yes, our custodial staff has been diligently working to clean and prepare the school for opening day.

I keep a map of the school on my counter and as they finish a room they highlight it. This way I know which rooms are done when a teacher calls to see if they can come in to work in their room.

These guys crack me up. They all want to be the one to do the coloring! If one gets there before the other they are truly disappointed. Imagine grown men arguing over whose turn it was to color in a square on a map.

I told them I'm going to get them some highlighters and coloring books for Christmas.

Friday, August 7 - Living Materials

I've been ordering materials for the new school year these last couple of weeks.

Our fourth and fifth grade science curriculum includes living materials. We get frogs, millipedes, fish, and I think crabs.

Once each marking period a different set of teachers calls up the company in North Carolina and gives them their order number along with the dates that they want each "material" delivered.

These boxes come shipped overnight and they only ship them on certain days of the week so as not to have a box of dead living materials show up.

The teachers take these materials to their classrooms and use whatever the rest of the curriculum prescribes to set up these lessons.

Once the lesson or the marking period is over, the teachers can disperse or dispose of these materials as they wish and by that time they're really anxious to get rid of them because, to put it in their words, "they stink up the room".

One fourth grade teacher even admitted to me that she actually looks forward to the things dying because they smell so bad.

Thankfully, she's also the one who has confided to many that she never intends to have children of her own.

Friday, July 31 - It's Time to Renew My License

As I was leaving for lunch today one of the children in the Summer Enrichment Program asked me if I was the School Nurse! I guess since I dispense band-aids and ice packs you could draw that conclusion.

That brief interlude reminded me that it's time to renew my license. My Nurse Hunting License that is!

During the school year, whenever our nurse leaves her room, (which is more often than you would think) students are directed by a sign on the door to come to the office. Most of the time they can be helped with an ice pack or a band aid, but there are times that truly do need a nurse's attention.

Since she doesn't always tell us where she's going, and since she doesn't wear a bell around her neck, we have to hunt her down.

By now I know most of the obvious places she will be, like in the faculty room warming her coffee for the umpteenth time, or in the computer lab needing help from the computer teacher, or in the band room with the instrumental music teacher. So I start phoning those places for her. (Let it be known that if there is an emergency, I would page her on the intercom, however, we don't like to disturb the classes when it's not absolutely necessary.)

It was on one of these ocassions when I actually said to the computer teacher that I was on a Nurse Hunt. She laughed knowing the nurse's reputation and said she totally understood.

Not more than an hour later the computer teacher arrived in the office with two official Nurse Hunting Licenses granted to the office staff and good for one year.

I carry mine in my wallet.

If you know me and know my relationship with my school nurse you will understand when I say that sadly, I'm only allowed to use the phone during this hunt. Discharge of weapons is, unfortunately, verboten.

Yep, just checked it. It's time to renew!

Friday, July 24 - What Comes of This Seed?

About 3 years ago, out in the front of our school, a rogue plant appeared in the very neatly newly planted landscape. This plant, continued to grow, unchecked by the maintenance crew.

Much to our surprise, when it got to be about 2 1/2 ft. tall, these wonderful trumpet-like blossoms in white appeared. The plant continued to grow to about 4 ft. and had many blossoms which in turn, turned to spiny seed pods. The seed pods dried out and split, scattering their seed throughout the mulch in that area.

Soon, many little plants could be seen taking root.

People who came and went often commented on the plant and it's beautiful blossoms and wondered what it was called. I did some research and found out it is called Datura. It is a plant that many people grow in their gardens. It is not a weed.

My principal, didn't share the same opinion. After passing it everyday for most of the summer, he let the maintenance staff know that they should yank them all out when they did the final grounds clean-up before school started in September.

The only problem was that by that time, the plant had spread so much and shed so many seeds into the mulch that it would be impossible to totally eradicate it.

We plant seeds of knowledge inside and hope that they get nurtured and grow to be big thoughts someday. It's a process that you hope won't be stopped once it's started. One never knows what those seeds of knowledge can become someday. We should be so lucky that from those seeds come beautiful flowers.

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fortune of the Republic, 1878

Can we not say that about a child?

Friday, July 17 - New Door Lock

there was a storm on Saturday night that caused a power failure
that caused the breakers to trip
that caused the alarm system to go off
that caused the security company to leave a message that the alarm system went off
that caused the front door buzzer to ring continuously until someone cut the wire about 9:00 this morning
that caused the office and faculty room refrigerators to defrost
that caused all the ice pops (10 boxes) to melt leaving a sticky pool in the freezer
that, when rebooted this morning, caused the fire alarm in the office to ring for over an hour

and, because the head of maintenance is on vacation in the catskills and is hard to reach, and he can’t explain to his summer office help how to reprogram the system to reset the lock, this is what he suggested doing to secure the building for the evening.

Keep in mind that the door opens OUT!

Friday, July 10 - Who Left the Mike On?

Note to Self:

Always remember to check if the office PA system is off before you start talking about how you were constipated all weekend and then ate the cookies that were brought in Monday morning and got diarrhea.

Friday, July 3 - Movin' On Up

We prepare ourselves at the end of each year for the students to "Move Up" into the next grade level. On the last day of school the second graders come over from their school and visit their new 3rd grade teachers. The old third graders visit their new fourth grade teachers and, you guessed it, the old fourth graders visit their new fifth grade teachers.

During this time, the old fifth graders are signing yearbooks, watching movies, or are outside on the playground.

Before the day is over we will be visited in the office to sign a yearbook, to be offered something from the class party, or to receive a gift.

It's nice to see our outgoing 5th's to say good bye and wish them luck. We've had them for 3 years. We know the frequent flyers who visit the principal, and we know the one's who have done well also.

But we not only lose students to moving up, we lose parents also. And again, there are the one's you couldn't wait to see go, and those that you will miss.

I received a package from one such family. This mom always treated us at the holidays, secretaries day, and at the end of the year with a container full of puppy chow. The homemade candy puppy chow that is. Delicious! This year was no different except for the note.

The children (twins) each wrote a thank you on the note, but then the mom added her sentiments. We go back a long way.

When her older daughter was in 1st grade I happened to be doing a long-term subbing assignment for her teacher. Through the years, while I was subbing, our paths would cross. Then when I took the office job, we saw more of each other.

This is a mom who always takes time to talk to you. To really ask you how you are doing and mean it.

She's also a mom who writes her children's notes on any available piece of paper, be it a paper napkin that's handy or the back of a grocery store receipt.

She's a mom who will paint her face green and don a blow-up leprechaun outfit and visit the school each St. Patrick's day and cause mayhem and laughter as she runs down the halls and around the outside of the school. And I have pictures of her dressed as a cow for Halloween, udders and all.

She's a mom who you will see running through the neighborhood with her dog on a leash, sometimes with her children following along on their bikes.

And, she's a mom who will drop what she's doing and come in to clean tables at lunch when someone else can't make it.

These are the one's you hate to lose.

Friday, June 26 - Solitaire?

(Sorry, this originally posted without editing - hope you take the time to read it corrected.)

It's the last week of school.

The marking period ended two weeks ago.

Even the students are tired of watching movies.

The teacher walks into the room, puts the movie on and sits at her desk.

She pulls out a deck of cards and starts playing solitaire.

A bored and inquisitive 8th grader walks up to her desk and asks:

"Teacher, why are you playing solitaire all by yourself?"

High School look out!

Friday, June 19 - End of the Year Circus

It's been a very busy week in our office. We're almost to the end of the school year (two more days after today). I call it circus time because there's at least three rings of action going on at any given moment.

In the office there's a multitude of end-of-year paperwork. Keys, IDs, and plan books have to handed in. Attendance reports have to be done. All the rosters for next years' classes have to be typed, copied, and distributed - but not too soon or the information will leak. Information leaks happen all the time. It's part of the circus atmosphere that I call the Center Ring.

Class parties are a daily event. Parties mean visitors. Visitors mean doorbells. Doorbells mean continual interruptions. Food deliveries have to be refrigerated. Teachers want to take their classes outside. Ring two events are in full swing.

Parents, as well as students, seem to forget the rules. Walking right into the cafeteria without checking in at the office becomes a regular occurence. Calling the office for dismissal changes instead of putting it in writing means more phone calls. More phone calls mean more interruptions. Ah - here we have the third ring.

It is for these reasons above, and many more not mentioned, that I keep a jar full of clown noses on my desk at this time of year. When it gets really crazy, and I get really punchy, I just threaten to start passing the noses out.

Yep it's circus time. And speaking of the circus, this was heard in my daughter's 8th grade classroom recently.

"Miss M, I'm going on vacation soon."

"Where are you going?" she asked.

"I'm going to Las Vegas, and I'm going to see Circus Ole!"

Friday, June 12 - Got Splinters?

A fifth grade boy walks into the office after recess looking for the school nurse.

"Is the nurse here or at lunch?"

"She's eating lunch now. Why do you need her?"

"I have wood chips in my underpants."

(this is me now talking to myself - okay, you have to dig in now. you can't smile. you can't laugh. it is funny, but you must not laugh!!! speak now, but don't laugh.)

"Can't you just go to the boy's room and empty them out?"

"No. They are literally in my underpants!"

And then he sits down.

(okay, get up and go out the back door and get the nurse before you lose it)

Friday, June 5 - Number Please

There are days that I hate the interaction I have with parents and then there are those that just crack me up.

Take for instance the mother who came in this week with something her daughter had forgotten.

With a smile on her face she plopped the bag down on the counter and mumbled under her breath “I’m gonna kill her.” To which I said in jest – you can do whatever you like, but please don’t tell us.

She then went on to tell me that it’s okay. She’s threatened them before. And when they threaten to call DYFS on her, she tells them to make sure that “DYFS keeps you for at least four weeks!”

And then she hands them the phone.

Friday CPR, May 29 - Minnesota Miracle Matzo

One of our fourth grade teachers came into the office after lunch holding up this piece of matzo cracker and quite excitedly exclaiming "Minnesota", "Minnesota."

I asked him what he was talking about and he waved it at me and just said "Minnesota." Then he put it in his mailbox and left the room.

That's when I took a picture of it.

Later that afternoon he came to collect it. We teased him and told him he needed to preserve it somehow.

I asked him if he nibbled it that way and he said no, that it broke off quite by accident.

In his words "Some people find the Blessed Mother in things, I find Minnesota."

So we dubbed it the Minnesota Miracle Matzo.

I'll let you know if we actually have any miracles any time soon.

Friday, May 22 - Drama on the Playground

A student aide comes into the office this morning to tell us that there is a rather gruesome scene unfolding on the playground. In the far corner near the woods and well away from the ball fields there is a mother deer fending off turkey vultures that, it is assumed, are after her fawn. All this is happening while the gym teacher is testing the students in their mile run at the other end of the field. Needless to say, they are all panicked.

There are about 20 vultures circling the playground. Another group of eight has found a place to view the course of events in an ivy-covered dead tree on an adjacent lot. Those that are not in the air or in the tree are stalking the deer with their wings spread like they are about to engage in a group performance of the paso doble.

As they advance on the mother she charges, but she is careful not to get too far away from what she is protecting. This goes on for some time until finally some of the vultures lose interest and fly off. The mother retreats into the shady woods and continues to stand guard. Several of the vultures remain in the tree evaluating the situation. One has to wonder if maybe they are eyeing up a small child. The gym teacher is certainly counting heads.

The principal touches base with the teachers who will have playground duty during recess to let them know what is transpiring. Keep the children away from that area he warns.

Third grade lunch goes off without a hitch. However, during fourth grade lunch, while the children watch from a distance, a couple of aides and a teacher decide to check things out. (They really know how to listen!) They tell the children that the fawn was hit by a lawnmower and the vultures are eating it and there’s not much left.

This may be the course of nature, but by the chatter and noise level that was heard in the hallways when the students met their teachers after recess, it has left many distressed.

I’m sure that we will be getting calls from parents wondering why we even allowed them to go outside.

Friday, May 15 - Teacher Appreciation Day at the Range

During the month of May Teacher Appreciation Day is celebrated in many schools. Usually we get flyers from bookstores, educational toy stores, and perhaps some local restaurants. But this time we got a flyer from a rifle and revolver club.

"Teachers Day at the Range" is being advertised as free to educational professionals. You have to be 18 years old (I think you'd be hard pressed to find any under the age of 18), and you must pre-register. During breakfast and registration, they're offering a free breakfast, and besides the breakfast all equipment and lunch will be provided.

They will have certified instructors on hand for lessons and instruction in five shooting disciplines: Modern Firearms, which includes pistols, rifles, and shotguns, plus archery and muzzleloading rifle.

Oh, and there will be goodie bags and door prizes!

I'm wondering if they let you bring your own targets?

Darn, I already have plans for the weekend.

Friday, May 8 - Bend and Stretch?

The husband of one of our teachers came to visit this week. He brought his niece and nephew with him - toddlers - and they were all going to go out for lunch.

When the teacher came to the office at lunch time, one of the busiest times in the office with parents coming in and out to do lunch duty, and students always around somewhere, she welcomed them warmly. Then she bent over to pick up the little boy. Something quickly changed her mind and she stood upright. She then asked her husband for his sweatshirt. He gave it to her and she tied it around her waist.

I saw her bend over the counter on the other side of the room and say something to the secretary but I couldn't hear her over the noise. When she left, the secretary told me what the teacher had said to her and she was laughing.

The teacher bent over the counter to say that she couldn't believe that she just split her pants. The secretary offered her a needle and thread, but she said "You don't understand. I'm wearing a thong." Thank goodness he came to her rescue with that sweatshirt!

Friday, May 1 - What's For Lunch?

New on the school lunch menu this week:

Friday, April 24 - The Newest Dance Fad

A teacher came into the office and handed me some rings that were found in the faculty bathroom. They were not costume rings - they were someone's diamonds. A little while later, another teacher walked into the office. This one is known to wear some pretty pricy jewels to school. She once made it a point to tell me that her pearl necklace was worth $10K and I have no reason not to believe her. She's often decked out to the nines with her gold and other jewels.

Knowing this, when she came in I asked her if she was missing any jewelry. Now this is probably funnier done in person but I'm going to try to write it.

Instead of just saying yes or no she did this:

Right hand on left wrist.
Left hand on right wrist.
Right hand to right ear.
Left hand to left ear.
Right hand to neck then over her heart.
Then a slight foot kick.

Nope, she wasn't missing anything.

There was a male teacher in the office along with the other secretary and I during this demonstration. After she left we all busted up laughing and surprisingly he said it looked like she was doing the "damn macarena"! I was waiting for him to say that except for the kick at the end, she would make a good third base coach sending signals to the batter.

Go ahead, I know you want to try it for yourself!

Friday, April 17 - Blah, Blah, Hmmmm

First, let me say that our custodial staff is like the United Nations - they come from all over the world - Poland, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Italy, etc. This can be challenging when you need to ask them a question, or more importantly, try to explain something to them. The custodians are assigned to one or possibly two schools and they have their regular daily chores to attend to.

The "Maintenance Guys", not to be confused with custodians, travel between all the schools to make the major repairs. The "Maintenance Guys" speak English very well, although sometimes it's still difficult to explain things to them.

Yesterday the "Maintenance Guys" came to pick up their paychecks. They're always good for a couple of stories that get us laughing. One of the "Maintenance Guys", let's call him Jack, was relating a story about a custodian, Harry, who is often found napping on the job. Jack said he asked one of the other custodians, a hispanic woman, where this particular custodian was. She told him that Harry was in the Coochie's office. I wasn't aware that we had a Coochie in the district. Turns out a Coochie is a coach.


I got the biggest laugh today when a student came to the office and asked for copies to be made for his teacher. He did say please without prompting and when the copies were done I handed them to him and he actually bowed when he said thank you! I couldn't help but crack up. He smiled too!


Okay, so maybe that wasn't the biggest laugh today. It might have been when the fifth grade teacher came into the office after lunch and announced that he had to go home and change his pants because his zipper broke as he stood there holding the zipper pull in his hand. He said he couldn't go back to class and be expected to teach with the barn door open!


Well, if you haven't found the humor in any of the stories related above that's okay. I bet you didn't know that April 17th is Blah, Blah, Blah Day!

Have a great one!

Friday, April 10 - Does That Ringing In My Ears Bother You

I have been enjoying a most peaceful week. School has been out this week - for the faculty and the students - but not for 12-month employees of which I am one. So I took some personal days and did spend one day in the office tying up some loose ends before the end of the year crush begins.

The reason I say it was peaceful is because there were no bells to deal with. You see, I'm beginning to feel like one of Pavlov's dogs when I hear a bell ring.

I have a phone on my desk and the school doorbell also. And, thanks to a recent thunderstorm and power outage, I have the distinction of having to manually pulling the bell switch for the beginning and ending of school, as well as the late bell and the beginning of Opportunity Period at the end of the day.

So when the phone rings and the doorbell rings at the same time that I'm supposed to ring the school bell, well, you might say we have the "perfect storm" of bells.

Yes, there is another person in the office, but she sits on the other side of the room and is very often otherwise occupied at those busy times. We do have some teachers who will answer the doorbell to help out and I'm thankful for that when they do. But some days, I wish I could just turn the noise off.

So since I only have a 10 min. commute home from work, when I get there I don't turn on the tv and I hope that the phone doesn't ring for at least an hour so I can clear my head of all the ringing. I'd much prefer to open the windows and listen to the birds sing. Hopefully, that will come soon.

Friday, April 3 - The Need to Know

People are inquisitive. It just can't be helped. It is a part of human nature. But sometimes they want to know too much, or ask inappropriate or probing questions in public.

We have all these laws now that are supposed to assure people their privacy - like the HIPPA regulations. You know the line you have to stand behind at the pharmacy so you don't hear the person in front of you talk to the pharmacist about their drugs.

Schools abide by these rules, or are supposed to. But here's what I find unnerving - our nurse insists on sending sick students (8-, 9-, and 10-year-olds) to the office while she makes a confidential call to a parent, yet she will come right out and ask you about your health issues in a room where other people are privy to your conversation. There could be other teachers, students or parents in the room, but she doesn't seem to notice.

It is most uncomfortable.

But there are times that there is definitely a need to know certain things.

For instance, parents often question me when I tell them that they have to sign their child out of school at the end of the day. I have to explain to them that - God forbid there should be a bus accident, we have to know who is and who isn't on the bus for safety reasons.

Or when a class is going outside or holding class in another room. Especially at the end of the day and students are being picked up early. It is very frustrating to have to make several calls around the building looking for a child when their parent is standing right in front of you, only to find out that their class is outside or in the computer lab or some other room and hasn't let the office know.

Then there is the need to know when a substitute or teacher is leaving the building. This is not only for safety reasons but there might be an occasion where we need coverage in another class. Or, there might be an emergency phone call for them.

Most people will offer the reason for leaving, but they really don't have to. All they have to do is remember to sign out. We also ask that they sign in and out for the day. There is a valid reason for it and it does go beyond being nosy.

I must admit, that sometimes I might ask where they're going in the case of the student aide that makes a fairly regular trip to Dunkin' Donuts or McDonalds and I'm craving a cup of coffee or sweet tea. Or if they didn't sign out and we were looking for them, we might ask where they were. Again, most of the time the answer comes easily, but there are times when we are simply told "the principal knew I was going out".

And this is when it becomes frustrating, because the principal doesn't always remember or get to share with us these things before they happen. So the teacher gets pissed because they feel their privacy has been invaded, and we get pissed because the rules are there for the reasons above.

I don't give a flying leap where you've been. And I don't give a flying leap that you had permission to go. If you don't want to be questioned then play by the rules.

All I ask is that you remember to sign in and out so I don't have to send a fireman back in the building to look for you.

Oh, and don't send me your sick, lice infested kids to watch while you make a confidential phone call unless you're going to afford me the same amount of privacy.

Friday, March 27 – Be Kind to Your Custodian

When a new teacher goes to work in a school they're most likely told to be nice to the secretary and the custodian because they'll get you what you need. I even said it myself to my daughter when she began teaching. After all, I am a school secretary and I know this to be true.

This post is in honor of our building custodian. We'll call him Georgio. He's from Italy, but lived in the US the better part of his 67 years. I found out recently that he is planning on retiring at the end of June. I really like him, but I would say that he probably should have retired a long time ago. He has one speed. Slow. But he does good work when he gets to it.

Some might think that being a school custodian is a pretty simple job, and it is for the most part, but it is also a dirty job.

Take for instance some of the events that our custodian had to deal with this week alone.

First thing Monday morning – he is called to the office because there is a mouse in the mouse trap in the office supply closet that isn't quite dead yet.

Then there's the call from a fifth grade teacher: Please page Georgio, there's something on the floor in front of the lockers in our hallway that looks like poop and smells like poop.

Another teacher calls to say that a student had a bloody nose in her room and there's blood all over the desk . Please page Georgio.

The drinking fountain in the third grade wing is leaking – please have Georgio check it out.

Tables have to be set up in a vacant classroom for a meeting. Page Georgio.

And then there's the dynamics of the nurse/custodian relationship in our building.

The school nurse comes into the office and demands (she does that a lot) that Georgio be paged because she has to show him something in the faculty room. She stands in the office doorway holding her cup of coffee making sure that one of us actually makes the call. She waits impatiently, eyes darting around, foot discreetly tapping, for him to respond. He lumbers down the hall in his signature turtle pace. She tells him to follow her. If he were a turtle, at this point he would suck his head, legs, and tail into his shell and play dead, but he isn't so he reluctantly follows her as we watch them turn the corner and leave our sight.

Within minutes she is back in the office. Still holding her coffee cup. Poised between our two counters and facing the principal's office. She tells us she needs to speak to the principal. Usually she just breezes by us but his door is closed and he is temporarily saved. But then, to his misfortune, he opens the door and she blurts out that she needs him to follow her. (At this point, he also is wishing he was a turtle.)

Within minutes he is back in the office and letting the secretary know that a work order has to be done to have the mouse trap in the faculty room replaced. Okay. A work order? Yes, that is what he requested.

It came to pass that we found out from a teacher who had been speaking to the nurse that when she called Georgio into the faculty room she asked him what was under the table in the corner. He told her that it was a mouse trap. She asked him what was on it. He told her, he didn't know, that perhaps it was some dust. She in turn said that she thought it looked like a mouse. He asked her if she was sure "because sometimes there is a picture of a mouse on the mouse trap". She said that she was sure and that he should get rid of it and put out a new mousetrap. He told her that he didn't have any mouse traps – that they come from the Head of Maintenance. And he told her that he would remove the mousetrap and ask for a new one once he finished setting up the tables for the meeting (which now was scheduled to begin in 5 mins.) And that was why she had to get the principal involved.

Later that day the nurse called and wanted Georgio to come to her office because her paper towel dispenser was only dispensing towels that were 8 ½ inches long and they should be at least 12 inches long.

And then she needed him to replace a light bulb above her desk.

As he was relating the story to me about the light bulb, he said he told her that he could replace the bulb, but if it was the ballast and he took that light bulb out, the light might not work at all. And he said to me "and in my mind I was hoping that the light wouldn't work and she'd have to sit in the dark, because we don't have any more ballasts." He got his wish.

Sunday is Georgio's birthday. May the next three months be free of blood, vomit, poop, and mice (and, between you and me, THE NURSE).

Friday, March 20 – Where are the Roman’s From?

Once again I'm relying on a story that was sent to me in an e-mail from that special teacher who used to live in this house:


Today's highlight--

While working on an essay, the following discussion occurred:

Girl -- "Miss M where are the Roman's from?"

Miss M – (burst of short laughter to catch my breath so I can ask my co-teacher) "Mrs. T, Girl would like to know where the Romans are from."  Mrs. T rolls her eyes and continues working.

Boy -- (Sarcastically) "They're from Japan."

Girl -- "I thought the Chinese were from Japan."

This is how my day is going.

10 minutes later, I heard a story about a girl in 6th or 7th grade that got her head stuck in a locker for 20 minutes and had to have the shop teacher come and pry her out.


Thanks for the laugh Miss M.

Friday, March 13 - What's In a Name?

We had a discussion about names in the office this week. It started because we recently enrolled a student whose name was a bit unusual, but then again, who is to say what is unusual in names these days. We don't have any Apples, or anything like that, and we don't have too many ethnic names. No Tomalia's or Sharonda's or Hips or Dips. So when we get a student with an ethnic name, one that can be used as an adjective in a simple sentence let's say, it might provoke a discussion.

Of course having a name that's a noun or an adjective is not a bad thing. You can name your child pretty much anything you want these days (like the family not too far from here who named their child Hitler), but there are times when the name is going to haunt the child and I can think of two that we've had in our district. Both of them did wind up changing their name and were happier for it.

The first one had a first name of Hardik. Yes, say it out loud and don't snicker. While this may be a very common name in the country of his family's origin, it is not a common name here unless you're using it in a derogatory way. This child entered our school system in Kindergarten and managed to get through the first two years of his life here unscathed by the cruelty of other children. However, as we knew it would, it didn't last. Our ESL teacher had to have a very frank conversation with parents who barely spoke our language to explain to them why their little boy was being scoffed at. They in turn, had to check with the grandfather whose privilege in their culture was to name his grandchildren. The child was given a nickname that was both acceptable to the family and the children in his class.

The second child had the last name of Dick. Again, in another country this name is a very common name and no one would think anything of it. But here, the use of the word dick is something that most 10-year-olds would find funny. Unless, of course, you were the 10-year-old who owned that name. The child eventually started using his mother's maiden name and the teasing stopped.

We like to have our children take pride in their ancestry and if that means having a family first or last name that is not so common we hope that they can handle it. We also like to hope that it is not our own children who are teasing the child whose name is not one that you hear every day.

Today I had a related conversation with one of my fourth grade teachers. She had a parent visit her classroom and in the course of the conversation the parent mentioned that her child's last name was spelled wrong in every place that it appeared - even on her report card. And she also mentioned that this had been the case since she enrolled her daughter in kindergarten. (Their last name is the same as the Yankee's third baseman who's been in the news a lot lately.) Apparently, the person who registered this little girl used a "q" instead of a "g" in her last name and it only took them 5 years to let us know that there was a mistake. Go figure!

Friday, March 6 - Getting Straight

I’ve been out of the office for two months now and I apologize if my material hasn’t been up to par. Rest assured, I’ll be returning to work on Monday and I’m sure I’ll be catching up on all the goings on that took place in my absence. Thanks for sticking with me.

In the meantime, this was shared with me by an 8th grade Language Arts teacher who likes to call me and make me laugh with stories about her special students:

(The student has her arm bandaged and turns to the teacher and asks…)

Ms. M. can you write my essay for me?


But my arm is hurt and I can’t write.

That’s not going to work. I saw you writing and you’re doing fine. By the way, how did you hurt your arm?

In the bus accident. (Her bus had been involved in a minor traffic accident.)

Looks like you were lucky you only hurt your arm.

Well, I hurt my back too, but my mother says I have to go to the orthodontist to get that fixed.

The orthodontist?

Yes, my mom says I have to get straightened out.

Well, only if you mean your teeth.

Friday, February 27 – The Importance of Fire Drills

My principal called me at home today; I'm still on medical leave. There's some report that's due on Monday and someone in the main office thinks that I have the information. But that's not what I was going to write about today.

In our conversation it somehow came up that tomorrow is the last day of the month and they haven't completed the mandatory fire drills for February yet. You see, there's a rule. You must have two fire drills per month. The secretary has to fill out a very detailed report for each one. She has to know how long it took to clear the building, how many people were present, visitors included, and what the temperature outside is. I'm not quite sure why the last bit of info is necessary but the other information is very pertinent.

I know it's not fire prevention month but I just wanted to reiterate how important that fire drills are. You see, I have actually been in a school fire. Back in the 90's, when I was subbing in the school district I had an assignment for a resource room teacher in one of our schools that was K-3. That particular day in the middle of March was pretty cold. In fact, the ground was still covered with snow from a late winter storm.

I had a class of five students in a room that was divided, and there was a teacher on the other side of the divider with students of her own. Now, usually on cold days we are given a heads up when fire drills will happen so the students (and teachers) can put on their coats. When the fire alarm went off, the other teacher and I looked at each other very quizzically. At first we didn't know what was going on because we hadn't gotten that "heads up" about coats (and we were in a classroom directly opposite the school office).

It only took a moment to realize that it wasn't a drill, that there was the possibility that there actually was a fire. So, I counted heads – 5 – and we proceeded out of the room and down the hall to the front door. We could see the principal in the hall with a slight look of panic on his face, but keeping order at the same time.

We were on our way to the front door of the school. The faculty room and library were right next to the front doors, but we all proceeded out to the sidewalk. We had the building cleared and were shivering already when, as we could see through the front door, the principal opening the door to the faculty room and quickly shut it. When he did this, the fire became visible in the window to that room and we could now see smoke coming from the roof.

Obviously we were too close to the source of the fire and we were told to move to the playground area. I can't tell you how many times in that short walk that I counted those five heads. We came to a stop at the playground and were being asked by the teachers who were in that area already if we knew anything. Not wanting to distress the children, we just nodded and quietly let them know.

Even though it was the middle of March we had students who were dressed in short-sleeved shirts who were shivering up a storm by now. But there was nothing to do but wait for the fire company. The fire marshall showed up first and what I most remember about that is the way that he pulled into the school driveway. I just thanked God that we had moved the children because he would definitely have taken a few of them out with the way he was driving.

The fire engines were on the way and now it was snowing. Not a heavy snow, but snow nonetheless. I don't know who made the decision, but lucky for us, our municipal building was on the other side of the playground. The playground that was covered with snow, remember.

We hiked across the snow and all filed into the meeting area inside the building. We could hear the fire engines outside and there were children who were crying because they were scared and in strange surroundings. The teachers counted and recounted heads and calmed the children.

The school secretaries had grabbed the student's emergency information and it wasn't long before parents started showing up either having heard through the grapevine, on the radio, or by phone that they needed to pick up their child at the municipal building. Each child had to be signed for.

They managed to contain the fire quite quickly, but the smoke went through the ventilation system and did the most damage. It was weeks before the building reopened. They had to have split sessions with the next school up, grades 4-6, until the building was ready.

But thanks to those twice-a-month drills, throughout the whole event, the students, grades K-3, really were remarkable. They were prepared as they should be.

The most ridiculous thing of the day was the parents who showed up and wanted to know where their child's backpack and coat were. Imagine having to explain to them that when the fire alarm goes off we don't take the time to gather personal belongings!

Friday, February 20 - What 5¢ Will Get You

We have a cafeteria in our school - so to speak. It's really the gym with a kitchen. Fifteen minutes before lunches begin, tables are rolled out and set up for the students to use. The kitchen doors are open and voila - a cafeteria is born!

Outside the kitchen door is a little cart that contains napkins and disposable eating utensils. The students are supposed to pick up what they need as they exit the kitchen after paying for their lunch. The cafeteria workers have noticed however, that there seems to be more utensil use than the number of lunches sold.

So I guess they put someone in charge to monitor the utensil cart and guess what they found? Yes, there were some students that were not buying lunch that were taking utensils. But the bigger problem - at least in their eyes - was the number of teachers who were helping themselves to utensils without purchasing lunch. (Bad, bad teachers!)

The cafeteria manager then went to speak to the principal and informed him that they are going to have to start charging 5¢ for each utensil.

The principal then tells the secretary to send an e-mail to the staff to remind them to bring their own utensils for lunch because of the cafeteria situation and the impending 5¢ charge.

The staff, no, some of the staff, no, some of the more vocal staff come up to the office to complain. That isn't fair! Who do they think they are? Five cents for a spoon, what are they nuts? This is ridiculous. And so on and so forth.

The secretary (and clerk) try to quell the dissention and remind them that the cafeteria is a "business" separate from the school and that they have overhead costs.... and so on and so forth. (Have you ever been in a situation when you say something and someone looks at you like you have two heads? )

But you know it's much easier for some to complain about something they consider unfair without ever really considering how they can avoid it.

Here's a few thoughts -

1. Buy yourself a box of plastic utensils and keep them in your desk drawer or classroom closet.

2. Wash the utensil after you use it and save it for the next time.

3. Buy your lunch in the cafeteria and the utensil will be free.

4. Get your mother to pack your lunch - I bet she never forgot to include a spoon!

5. If all else fails - make sure you have a supply of nickels!


Okay, it's not Friday I know, but I have been assigned some homework by Queen Bee fellow Jersey Girl, although she's much younger. It's a blog award and this is how it goes...

Step 1: respond and rework -- answer the questions on your own blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your own invention, add one more question of your own.

Step 2: tag - eight other un-tagged people.

I'm going to get an incomplete on this because of Step 2. But here we go....

1) What are you wearing right now? My comfortable brown pants, white turtle neck and light blue hooded thermal.

2) What is your biggest fear? Losing those I love.

3) Do you nap a lot? How timely is this. Yes, I have been napping a lot -recovering from a radical hysterectomy will do that to you.

4) Who is the last person you hugged? My husband, or as he is referred to on my blogs HWNSNBP.

5) What websites to you visit when you go online? Splitcoast Stampers, Folding Trees, Merriam Webster's Word of the Day, Voy Craft Forum, and numerous blogs.

6) What was the last item you bought? I bought 4 fat quarters of fabric at a quilt shop on the way home from the Christmas Tree Shop today.

7) Last person you mailed a card or letter to? A birthday card to my godmother.

8) If you woke up tomorrow and were a boy, what is the first thing you would do and why? I would pray that my husband woke up a girl for obvious reasons.

9) Has a celebrity's hair cut ever influenced your own hairstyle? No.

10) What is your most embarrassing moment? Well, there was the time that I drove up to the drive-in window at Burger King with the kids in the car, ordered, paid, and then drove away without the food, only to have to park the car and walk in and get it.

11) What was the last movie you watched? Masterpiece Theater's Cyrano de Bergerac - not really a movie but longer than an hour.

12) If you had a whole day to yourself with no work, commitments, or interruptions what would you do? Seriously, I would procrastinate. I'm good at it!

Now according to Step 2 I'm supposed to pass this on, or tag 8 other bloggers who don't already have this award. Instead, I'm going to toss it up in the air and if you're visiting here and do not have this lovely award and would like to have it, CATCH. And if you do, let me know so I can legitimately add this to my sidebar.

In the meantime, please do visit Queen Bee's blog. And tell her I said hello.

Friday, February 13 - Lost and Found

I was working on a project at home earlier this week that required a piece of chain. I knew exactly where to find some - in a box on my desk at work. The box contains all sorts of "jewelry" that has been found in and around the school. Jewelry, you see, does not go into the Lost and Found. Neither do cell phones, cameras, wallets, or things like that.

What does go into the Lost and Found are articles of clothing, lunch boxes, books, toys, and things like that.

The Lost and Found in our school is located in what used to be a phone booth. Not the glass type that you might be thinking of, but a room the size of a small closet with a door that does have a partial window. The phone having been taken out long ago.

At any given time during the school year you can visit the Lost and Found and usually find things piled up at least 3 feet high. You see, while all the staff and students know that there is a Lost and Found and know that things that they find belong there, they seldom remember that that is the place to check when things are missing and cannot be found in the classroom.

You must remember to take a deep breath before you open the door because there are usually one or two lunchboxes in there that might have decaying food in them. There are also shoes and articles of clothing that have a fragrance all their own.

Once each marking period tables are set up in the gym during lunch and the contents of the Lost and Found are displayed. Students are asked to check the tables before leaving the lunch room to see if they can find something that they have lost. We have our lunchroom aides go through the items and check for names and you'd be surprised how many items do have names and how many students are certain that even if their name is in or on something that it is not theirs.

On several occasions we have had parents call the office and ask us to check the Lost and Found for a specific item. This may seem like a simple task, but the description of a coat or sweatshirt can be vague so we encourage the parent to have the student ask to come to the office or even to have the parent themself come in to check things out.

One mother called and was particularly distressed. It seems that her son had lost not one, not two, but three coats at school. She had already spoken with the classroom teacher and was assured that they were not in the classroom. She also had her son check the Lost and Found for himself and he assured her that he couldn't find them. So, she resorted to coming in for herself. Sure enough, all three coats were there. Two of them even had his name in them.

Even after the marking period checks there is usually a substantial amount of unclaimed items. We take the leftovers (clothing that is, not lunches) to a shelter if they are not claimed. Small items and lunchboxes are usually discarded.

The box on my desk has a couple of watches, several pairs of silver earrings, some key chains, Girl Scout pins and Cub Scout neck slides, and lots of junk jewelry. So what do you think - flea market, garage sale, or Ebay?

Friday, February 6 - Please and Thank You

As it happens, oftentimes students are sent up to the office for something that their teacher needs. Usually it is because they are in the middle of a lesson and have suddenly realized that they only have 20 copies of a worksheet or test and there are 22 students in the class. Or it may be because a student has forgotten their workbook at home and they are doing that page in class now. So they will stop at my desk and here is how the conversation goes:

"Can I help you?"

"I need a copy of these two pages."


At this point, I intently stare at them and don't move. This begins to make them a little nervous and they smile and/or giggle a little and shove the book a little further at me.

"Did you bring paper and a pencil?" I'll ask.


"Then how are you going to get copies of those pages?"

Now they're thinking a little harder.

"You're going to make them."

"I am? Oh, you mean you are asking me to do something for you?"


"Then you forgot something."

Some may turn the book over, some may look like they're going to cry, some may start to back out the door. And then there is the child who finally has the lightbulb go off.

"Oh. Please can I have copies of these two pages?"

Yes, I'm the "Please Police". I don't work without it.

Oh, and they don't get out the door without a "Thank You" either.

Sadly, the students are not the only ones who forget to use "Please" and "Thank You." The stare doesn't usually work on the "taller ones" though.

Friday, January 30 - Snow Days - Walk Like a Penguin

Snow days - gotta love em! We had one this week (well they did, I'm still home recuperating). I remember when my kids were still in school these were the days that became opportunities. They were the days for the lessons learned at home.

There was a letter to the editor of our newspaper that appeared back then after a particularly icy winter that had caused most of our local school districts to surpass their days put aside for weather. Some mother was complaining that the schools were not being responsible enough with her children's education because they didn't provide materials or work for them to do at home should there be a snow day. I had to laugh out loud at this. Why should it be the responsibility of the school to provide materials or work for a student when they are home for a snow day!

Like I said before, these were the days for lessons learned at home. I always kept the ingredients on hand for making chocolate chip cookies. The ones from scratch, not in the tube. And when they were younger, I would supervise, but as they got older, they were responsible for making them on their own. In that you have a science, math, and reading lesson.

There was always a stash of craft supplies on hand. There was no limit to how they might choose to use them. And you can do this even if you only have the barest minimum of things on hand. Newspapers, glue, crayons or markers and an imagination will go very far. There's an art lesson there. Building things with the pillows and cushions from the furniture is a lesson in engineering. No need to park your child in front of the TV or computer.

Snow days are the precursor to Take Your Child to Work Day for every stay at home mom. Let them help with sorting laundry (before and after), putting dishes away, planning meals, cleaning up after the outside snowball fight comes back inside.

Enjoy them. The days and your children. There'll be times down the road when you will be home on your own on snow days and go to reach for the chocolate chip cookie ingredients and, if you even have them, have to make the cookies yourself.

I've included a link to a notice that my daughter received from her school district. It's meant to help you avoid becoming a victim of the ice and snow. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, January 23 - Walkie Talkie 101

Pop Quiz - If someone put a walkie talkie in your hands, would you know how to work it?

We have several pairs of walkie talkies in our office. They are there for a number of reasons. Mainly they are there because the lunch aides must take one out with them during recess so they will be able to call for help should a someone become injured enough on the playground and can't be moved. But we also send out a walkie talkie with any teacher who is taking their class outside, including the gym teacher, and to keep contact with the principal during fire drills.

I have often wanted to put together a short video for the staff to view at the beginning of the school year because, as walkie talkies fall into the technology category, many of our staff are walkie talkie challenged. Really.

The first thing that I would tell them is that you must turn the walkie talkie on. It doesn't do anyone any good to have you take the walkie talkie outside with you if it is not turned on. This has happened many times.

The second thing would be that you should keep the walkie talkie on or near you at all times. It doesn't do anyone any good to have the walkie talkie on the bench by the swings when your class is over by the kickball field. This has happened many times. It's a little annoying when you have a parent in front of you who is there to pick up their child for some reason and you cannot get the attention of the teacher with the walkie talkie because the walkie talkie is either not on or it's in the equipment bag on the bench.

Third, use the ring key on the walkie talkie to get our attention in the office. Clicking the walkie talkie on and off doesn't do anyone any good. There are many other noises in the office at any given time and the clicking sound might not be heard. This has happened many times.

Fourth, HOLD THE BUTTON DOWN WHEN YOU ARE TALKING. This is a big faux pas. They will press the button down - we hear the beginning of the message and then dead air. I can't begin to tell you how many times this has happened.

Fifth - please speak in a normal voice and hold the walkie talkie several inches away from your face. There are those that think they are secret service agents and must hold the walkie talkie right up to their mouth and whisper, while there are others who think they need to yell. This doesn't do anyone any good if you can't understand a freaking word they're saying.

Sixth - if we call you, please confirm that you have received the message. Some days I do my best parrot imitation trying to get a message to a class who is outside with the walkie talkie. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I'm not signalling planes flying overhead - do you hear me?????

Seven - you do not have to hold the walkie talkie up to your ear to hear - it's not a cell phone. Really.

Pretty basic don't you think? Easy to follow instructions. I could even do it without the sarcasm - it would kill me, but I could. Not going to happen though.

Friday, January 16 - Tardy

Well, that wasn't exactly the post that I had intended for yesterday, but seeing as today is actually Saturday I thought it would be fitting. Of course, I can hear some of you saying - not showing up on the day you're supposed to is more than just tardy, but let's not go there.

When students come into our school late they have to sign in in the front office, get a late pass and report to class. Probably, a pretty standard procedure for any school.

The doorbell will ring, the student comes into the lobby and, god-willing they will remember that they are supposed to report to the office first. In our office I sit behind a counter that while it allows me to see who is passing by does not allow for quick access to the office door should a student forget to come into the office.

Many is the time that I have had to jump up, circle the counter, and run down the hall to have a student come back and sign in. This is especially of comedic value when the morning announcements have started at the microphone adjacent to my desk. But, I have managed to manuever between the two teachers and one or two students doing the broadcast, around the desk, out the door and down the hall, all without having them miss a beat.

Once in the office the student (or parent who has accompanied them) signs into the tardy book.
Name. Homeroom. Time In. Reason. Simple right?

Well, don't forget that we're dealing with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. If a 3rd grader is the first late student, they usually need prompting for I've found that once the pattern is begun and you don't correct it - you're screwed.

Name. That would include first and last name. One morning I neglected to reinforce this rule and got a list of seven students by first name only.

Homeroom. Most students know this as it differentiates them from every other class in the school.

Time. Aha, another difficult one. First they must find the clock on the wall behind me. Then, they must be able to read time (yes, there are children of this age who still have difficulty telling time - sigh!). When they're completely lost, or there is a line of students behind them waiting to sign in, I'll throw in a save for them and give them the time.

Reason. Most of them generally put "late" as their reason. But there have been those that have come up with some colorful excuses. "My sister threw up on my homework." "We didn't get one green light this morning." "I was watching the World Series last night." "My alarm clock broked."

When writing out the late passes, I usually refrain from the lengthy reasons. I'm sure the teacher will be hearing about it anyway.

So as I sit here hoping that you are filling out my late pass here is my info:
Name: Lorraine HR: N/A Time: 6:00 p.m. Reason: Medical .

Without going into details, I am going to be home for the next 6-8 weeks recovering from surgery. I have asked some of my buddies at school (who know about this blog) to keep me primed with their observations about life in the school office which I'm hoping will keep me in material for that time. But, if there's anyone out there who would like to guest a Friday between now and March, just let me know.

Friday, January 9 - Regifting

We've just been through the Christmas holidays and with that comes the inevitable teacher gift season. At least if you work in an elementary school. Once you get to the middle school level the gift-giving is usually not of the good kind.

I was lucky? enough over the course of years when I substituted to have been on some long-term assignments right before the holidays and received some gifts myself. I have a few teacher mugs, tree ornaments, candles, boxes of candy, etc. The last year that I actually worked in the classroom as an aide with a SPED teacher and a 3rd grade teacher, we all were privileged to get a lovely gift of a framed pink flamingo - complete with feathers, in a white lattice frame.

Of course when you open up these gifts in front of the students you give them the look of awe and say that it's beautiful. Because you never really know if the child has done the shopping or the parent. I've found the prouder the child is of the gift, the more likely they were the one who picked it out. Then you put it aside and think to yourself "what in the world were they thinking?" or "what the hell am I going to do with that?"

A teacher once told me she calls those kind of gifts "gosunders" - the ones that go under the bed until you find someone else to regift it too. You never want to put them up for sale in a garage sale you're having if you live in the town you teach in. And you don't want to put them in the holiday gift collection box around the holidays just in case the parents are on the wrapping committee. So you save them for donations to white elephant or penny sales that your mother, or grandmother or great aunt's "club" is having. Of course, you're doomed to keep it if it has your name on it.

Now not all gifts are worthy of regifting. There are those that you just have to keep as a gag gift for someone (the pink flamingo worked well in this category), or as a conversation piece. And usually, it's pretty tacky to try to pass off baked goods to someone else as something you've baked yourself. Boxed candy is okay though - that is, unopened boxed candy.

In our district parents are encouraged to make a donation to the education foundation in the teacher's name and the donations go to assembly programs and school grants. It's a nice idea and keeps the chocki's off your desk. But I've gotten off track.

What I wanted to share was a story of a regifting incident from this week.

I was approached by one of our teachers with an inquisitive look and the question

"You collect birds don't you?"

"I have a bird, and I like birds, but I don't collect them. Why do you ask?"

"Well, I got this gift from a student. It's really cute, but I just don't have a place for it and I thought you might like it. Would you like to see it?"


And she ran back to her classroom to get it. It was really quite nice. A little ceramic bird in a cushioned box. As I took it out I said

"It's nice. It looks like a lovebird. What kind of bird is it?"

"Well, that's the funny part. The students asked the same thing. Turn it over."

"It's a Blue" and I burst out laughing.

"Yes, that's exactly what I said. It's a Blue"

"Oh my God, it's a Blue Tit."

What were they thinking!

Friday, January 2 – Death in the Faculty Room

In last week's post I talked about sending an e-mail to the staff that might have had some negative reactions. It doesn't always happen that way. I try to interject a little humor, usually disguised as sarcasm in my e-mails. Since it was a slow week at work (only us 12-month workers had to be there and most of us used vacation time) I dug this one up from last spring.

It all started with this e-mail from a 3rd grade teacher:

"Lorraine, I don't know if you're aware of this, and I can't imagine how it happened, but the large paper cutter in the lower faculty room is broken."

No I was not aware and, oh yes, it was broken all right. We're talking about one of the guillotine-type paper cutters. The metal hinge that attached the 30" blade to the wooden base was snapped off, and the blade, which is a pretty dangerous thing while attached to the base if not used properly, had become a lethal weapon just sitting there. It's not really the kind of thing that spontaneously happens, but I couldn't imagine how someone could do this and not let anyone know about it. So, here is what I sent out to the staff:

"Subject: Death In the Faculty Room

I am sad to report that the large paper cutter in the lower faculty room has been murdered. The arm is completely broken off – unrepairable – dead. There were no witnesses and there hasn't been a confession, in fact, we were only made aware of this dastardly deed today. Who knows how long the poor thing lie there unattended.

I'm thinking that we might have a serial killer at large. I don't know for sure if it was the same person that broke the laminator earlier this year (and we do know who that was by the way – thanks for your honesty (not!)), but I'm pretty sure that we'll find out that the perpetrator is "It Wasn't Me" or perhaps "I Didn't Do It".

Thank you for reading this and allowing me to vent – there will be a moment of silence today at 3:05.

BTW – I will be adding this to the book I'm writing as Chapter 6 – Honesty in the Workplace."

And the responses that I got included:

"My family always has a gathering after the services….

I will bring a Mississippi Mud Pie (traditional celebrations (good or bad) food…

Who is bringing the keg?"


"I hope you are writing a book. You're a good writer.


"It Wasn't Me" and "I Didn't Do It""


"HAHA! You are funny!"


"You are funny. You are not going to pick us off one by one with the blade…. Right? Are you?"


"that's awful: (But very funny, I can't wait to get my signed copy of your book!"


"Oh well, please make sure the sunshine fund sends flowers."


But the phone call I got was priceless:

"Geez, you scared the shit out of us!"

"What are you talking about?"

"The e-mail you sent! We thought someone really was killed in the faculty room and we got worried!"

"And you really think that we would notify you by e-mail?!?!?!?"