A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Monday, August 31, 2009

I before E except after "team"

Yes, we got the good news that our staff development will include "team-building" exercises.

Does that mean that the administration will finally join our team? Or let the teachers join theirs?

And who here, besides me, is now thinking about that scene in Mean Girls?

You know, there is no "I" in team. But "ME" is in there if you rearrange the letters. And if you really rearrange the letters, you get "meat."

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sad news for all Tulsa baby boomers....

Uncle Zeb has died.
Carl Bartholomew, better known in the area as "Uncle Zeb," the host of a popular childrens' show from Tulsa, has died. He was 78.

Bartholomew is recognizable to two generations of Tulsans for his enduring role on the Unlce Zeb's show, famous for its "Cartoon Camp" had two runs on the airwaves — the first on KTUL, channel 8, from 1969 to '79, and then on cable from 1990 through '97.

Bartholomew also executive-produced, directed, co-scripted and starred in a 1988 vigilante movie called "Cole Justice," whose popularity in the home video market got him an improbable gig as the grand marshal of a holiday parade in Florala, Ala., sharing the spotlight "with a guy who could pick up 20 chickens," he recalled.

"Cole Justice" also played on Showtime and the Movie Channel and is still available from the Tulsa-based VCI Home Entertainment.

Bartholomew spent many years as the promotions manager for channel 8, where he created the well-remembered "Eight's the Place" campaign. In those brief spots — Bartholomew called them "micro-mini-movies" — he put the station's news team on horseback, into a '30s convertible, and even in Hower's biplane.

"That's kind of where I got bitten by the movie bug," he said. "Now, everything I write, I see in my mind as a film. This book is no different." Bartholomew was also an accomplished childrens' author. In 1998, his debut book, "Granmax: The Saving of a Steam Train," came out. He also released "Plane Phenomenon: The Pawnshop Mysteries," which mixed "Twilight Zone"-style thrills with
a plot line about a boy whose passion is remote-control planes, especially a Stearman biplane.

For those of you who don't understand, let me try to explain. Your boy scout/girl scout/ bluebird group would book a visit to the Cartoon Camp. You would then ride up a twisty road in the back of a station wagon to the top of Turkey Mountain in west Tulsa to the studios of Channel 8. You would walk onto the set, and there was Uncle Zeb. He'd tell jokes. He made squirrels out of handkerchiefs and made them jump at you with his fingers. You'd watch classic cartoons. At the end, you all got to line up and say your name into the microphone and get your 2 seconds of fame. Then you'd all jump around during the closing credits.

It was a blast. He was the nicest man.He was just so fun, and it never felt like he was talking down to you, even if you were six years old.

A while back I actually found some website about Tulsa TV personalities, and actually found a way to email him. Here I was, definitely middle aged, and I was thrilled that I got an email from Uncle Zeb. He was a true gem, and a gentleman. Now I just wish I'd asked him how to make those squirrels out of a handkerchief.

God bless you, Carl. You gave thousands of kids the gift of laughter.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Texas Fight Club case sentence comes in

One of the workers at the Corpus Christi (Texas) State School for the disabled has pleaded guilty to running a "Fight Club" among the students (and if that wasn't bad enough, the kids were often forced to fight). Here is the link to the news article.

In exchange for pleading guilty to a reduced charge, Vincent Johnson received a suspended two year sentence, 150 hours of community service, a $2000 fine, and five years of probation. He will testify against other employees implicated in this shameful episode.

Disgusting. And you know, plea bargains are one of the reasons I didn't go to law school.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Should parents get to pick their kids' teachers?

Here's the link to an interesting article about whether parents should pick their kids' teachers. Click over and read it while I muse on the fact that the Associated Press has decided to start charging bloggers for blockquoting their articles, and although I am NOT Arianna Huffington I also do not have access to her wealth, so I'm hoping that my tiny corner of the blogosphere escapes notice if I just provide the link from now on. Annoying, yes?

Okay, so hoping that you skimmed the article, let me just say: I have made sure that my children have had or avoided certain teachers, but I have done this sparingly. To be honest, usually my kids are moved into classes by counselors that know me as a former colleague and already know my preferences, so sometimes I get to coast and find out that the work has already been done. I used to believe in NOT doing this, but I (and one of my kids) got seriously burned by my laissez-faire attitude. Now I know better.


As a teacher, I must say that I do get tired of having gi-normous classes due to parent/student requests, so I see the other side of that coin, as I try to wedge thirty desks in a classroom made for twenty-two.

What do YOU think, as both a parent and/or a teacher?

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Getting back into the thick of it

I've enjoyed my little vacation-- and little is the mot juste, as our school district calendar keeps sliding staff development days in near holidays so that now there's basically only two months off, which no doubt is based on some half-baked study from probably Iceland (No offense to any Icelanders out there. Hvernig gengur? Mer likur vio Sigur Ros!) that this lack of down time as a bloc will somehow double our test scores or at least our sports teams.

Yesterday, it was announced that John Hughes had passed away. I am spending the weekend watching his films again. Yesterday was Sixteen Candles. Today, I think I'll do Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and of course Ferris Buhler. God bless that man.

My students' AP scores arrived. I must say, they exceeded my expectations! Yay, kids! You really WERE studying! And the kid who told me the Gettysburg Address was 1511 Gettysburg Avenue- you are forgiven. Almost.

The homework controversy rages on. Homework in kindergarten? Yeah, that's a bit much. However, I shudder to think what happens to high school kids who don't do homework when they get to college. Wait. I know what happens, because I had a dorm-mate for one semester who had never done homework in her life after she graduated from some hippy-dippy private school. Note that I said, "one semester," too. She got to spend two thousand bucks to learn that she wasn't prepared for college. Tough lesson. You get that for which you work (see how homework taught me not to end my sentences with a preposition? Thank you Mrs. B Smith, my 9th grade English teacher....).

Oh, and on July 28, A Shrewdness of Apes turned four! Thanks for hanging out with me during this time, and I will be a better blogger than I have been lately, I promise.

So. How are YOU doing?

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