Saturday, December 20, 2008

Galva High School 1972-78

My first full-time teaching job was in Galva, Illinois, a town of about 3,000 in west-central Illinois. Here's my photo (bottom left) in the 1972 Galva yearbook, the Galahi. The high school itself had about 350 students, as I recall. I made a whopping $7,500 annual salary, but with rent at $90 and car payment of $75 (and gas only 30 cents a gallon), I was able to survive.

I taught six classes of English 9, which were carefully tracked and not so subtly called 9-A, 9-B, 9-C, and 9-D-F. The only thing I remember for sure teaching them was Romeo and Juliet, although I'm sure there was much more.

It was a small, mainly Swedish community. I had five Andersons in one class! They had never heard of a name like Schibrowsky. It was also a conservative Protestant town, and the principal told me he didn't care if I drank in public, but please don't do it in town. But, oh, could we party! The teachers were mostly young, fun, and great partyers!

I loved that town, school, kids, parents, and colleagues. I was instrumental in starting the first teachers' union (of course). It was a very good place to start a teaching career.

Somehow, I got stuck as senior class sponsor. Here I am below, at the senior picnic, being carried to be tossed in the lake by the senior boys (who were just 3-4 years younger than I).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

'Twas the week before Christmas . . .

"Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the halls,
Not a creature was learning, we were climbing the walls . . . "

This has not changed over thirty-seven years . . . it a week in which the kids get more hyper, more distracted, and completely sugar-overloaded while teachers get either the same, annoyed, or call in sick. Let's see, we had about 20% of our staff absent today . . . not even enough subs to go around. Ho, ho, ho! Isn't that fun?

There is a lot of fun to the franticness, like the traditional Secret Santa routine by the staff, the collecting money for the custodial staff, door or hall decorating, candygrams, cards and gifts from kids and friends, and parties, parties, parties! In my room alone today we had ice cream with toppings, toaster strudel, cookies, donuts, soda, juice, popcorn, corn chips and cheese dip, cakes, hot chocolate, and pizza. What a fun day! Alfio, my room cleaner, just said, "Mama Mia!" when he saw all the trash piled up. Yes, Italians really do say that! He wasn't too upset, though, because he got a generous Christmas gift.

We played Christmas Trivial Pursuit and Christmas Pictionary in AVID and had a White Elephant gift exchange. One can never tell with high schoolers, but I think a good time was had by all. Ninth-grade seminar was totally entertained by Wayne's World II, which they had never seen. They even stayed right through lunch to watch the end. That rarely happens.

One more day to get through . . .

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Always a teacher

Christmas 1954, Marseilles, Illinois. I always wanted to be a teacher. When I was this small, television was practically brand-new. One of my favorite shows was Ding Dong School with Miss Frances. Other favorites were Howdy Doody and The Micky Mouse Club.

With a December birthday, I started kindergarten at four and first grade at five. I could read before I even went to school. My dad would read me the Sunday funnies when he was home. Playing school was one of my favorite games throughout childhood.

I never really considered any other career.