October 31, 2010

UW Whitewater Homecoming 2010


W Whitewater Homecoming 2010

Posted by roadapples at 03:23 PM

May 19, 2006

humans are horses

Just when I think I have my students all figured out, one of them surprises me. It is the end of a very long and difficult school year. The students are bored. I am bored. It is nice and sunny outside and there is a sale on Nike's at the mall downtown, only a few blocks away. The smell of bacon cooking from Sammies's on Main mixed with the aroma of fresh doughnuts from Dee Dee's slides in through the open window.

One of my special ed students is asleep at his desk humped over his US History packets - time for something different. I give him a writing assignment that I think will challenge him. I tell him to write a poem about humans and horses. It does not have to rhyme but it must have rhythm. (Teacher's say the dumbest things sometimes

Here is the poem he wrote in about fifteen minutes.

Humans are Horses

I walk they walk.
I eat so they eat.
I breathe so they breathe.
I drink they drink.
Where I urinate ouside is where they urinate outside.
When I talk they listen.
Why humans are horses.
How I learn is how they learn.
Humans have babies horses have babies.
Babies crawl on all fours horses move on all fours.
Horses drive wagons I drive a Mercedes.
Humans are horses.

I did a little snooping and discovered this was not the first poem he has written in my class. I found another on the hard drive after he left. It is a little more street than the first.

Sittin in School

Sittin in school
gotta a lot of money
Am so hot with a pocket full of dowty
Mind is gone
Am so gone
Look at my back
Slip my teacher a zone
Hoes on the phone
Trying ta get home
The only ride you catching is the 22 home.

Spring is the season when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of amore. Here is one more he wrote.


Love is a sensation
Caused by temptation
When a man sticks his inspiration
Into a woman's destination
To increase future population
Do you need more demonstration?
One night of pleasure
Nine months of pain
Then a baby is named
When a man say he love you
You think it's true
But when she says I'm pregnant
He says F*** You!

Greg is 19, no, he does not drive a Mercedes and, as far as I know, he does not have any children.... yet. There is one more thing you should know about Greg. Standing 6 feet 8 inhes tall, he is a tall drink of water and one of the kindest and gentlest young men I have ever met.

Posted by roadapples at 07:34 AM | Comments (12)

February 12, 2006

math whiz


I only have 81 days, 7 hours, 42 minutes, and 19 seconds to wait for summer vacation. I am not complaining but a teacher's life consists of long hours of grading papers, and reminding students to sit down, be quiet, no swearing, no hitting, no spitting, no head phones, no cell phones, pull their shirts down, pull their pants up, and, most importantly, don't give the teacher a headache.

But on the positive side, every semester there is at least one unforgettable event that reminds me why I keep doing what I do. Did I mention I have my summers off?

Joe has many strikes against him. He is a poor young Hispanic lad of 18 with a troubled past and a baby on the way. He has no job, no prospects, and neither does his girlfriend. But then if he was on the road to sure success in life, he wouldn't be in my school.

Joe does have one thing going for him which just might be his salvation. He is a very bright kid who loves math.

I have been helping Joe learn trigonometry since the beginning of the school year. I see him about once a week because he is not really one of my students. His teacher is not strong in math, so she asked me to work with Joe. I never say no when it comes to teaching math. Besides, there are so few students in our school with the ability, let alone the desire to do math and it is a real treat to find some one like Joe.

"Ok Joe, now let's review. If you know that one of the acute ngles in a right triangle, what else do you know or can find out if you have a trig table or a calculator with trig functions?"

Joe hesitates. He is deep in thought. He wants to please me. He wants his A. He wants to understand. Slowly he answers, "I know from the tables... the ratio of the opposite side to the... hypotenuse and this is the... sine of the acute angle."

"Excellent Joe - what else?" I sit forward in my chair in anticipation. He is so close. I am waiting to hear eight more words. Again, he hesitates. I wonder if he is doing this just to tease me.

"I know the ratio of the adjacent side to the hypotenuse. This is the cosine of the acute angle."

"That's it Joe!" I am ready to hug him but decorum prevents it. "No matter how big or small the right triangle, you can go anywhere in the galaxy or universe and this math fact will be exactly the same. "

"WOW - I can make some money with this stuff", Joe replies as a smile creeps across his face.

That was one grand and glorious moment.

Now if you will excuse me, I have some papers to grade before I can watch some of the Olympic games. I can't wait to hear what Bode will say next.

Posted by roadapples at 09:26 AM | Comments (4)

January 27, 2006

f is for fish fry

What do you do when some one disses you in school in front of your peeps? You go to their crib with your cousin and best homie, knock on the door and force your way in. Then you bash the b up side the head with a sharp metal object that's what.

It's the end of the semester with only two report cards to go and I am out of here. Got some serious fish fry eatin' to take care of and It's gettin' late. The phone rings. A incoming call on a Friday late in the afternoon is never good news. But I can't stand a ringing phone.

It is Tamara's mom. The story she has to tell is bizarre even for me. Female teenage students invading the home of another female teenage student has never happened before and I find it hard to believe.

Tamara is one of my exceptional ed students and has a temper meaner than a bag of tom cats. Katey is another one of my students. She is small and dainty - all girlie but with a hair trigger cocked tighter than panty hose on a fat lady.

Three days ago, Tamara and Katy were best buds. Two days ago, they were ready to rearrange each other's braids. Words were said, a bottle was raised, some more words were said, a few "f" words were carelessly flung around, and the safety aid was called.

But It was not over and they both knew it.

Katey and her homies will be ticketed and given a slap on the wrist because they are underage. It will cost them three bills and some com time. But street cred is valuable, on the g.

I notified my principal that Officer Taylor wanted a call from him asap then I called child protective services. Tamara was cut on the face and I had to report the incident.

The beer battered cod will have to wait a little longer. Damn, I hope all the corn muffins are not all gone by the time I get there.

Posted by roadapples at 08:41 PM | Comments (4)

January 25, 2006

liquor store shoot out

At seven, the phone rings. I hesitate. Should I answer it or let the answering machine pick it up. I came in early to get some work done and I am not in the mood to hear some lame excuse for not coming to school from one of my students.

"Good Morning"

"I won't be in today." It's Jamie and I don't hear the usual fake cough. Instead there is a slightly uneasy tremble in her voice.

"What's up Jamie?"

"I just can't.... It's my boyfriend - he...", her voice begins to crack. She begins to break up emotionally and I can not make out what she is saying.

"Wait a minute Jamie. Let me turn the volume up. Ok, now tell me again."

She continues to cry for a few seconds more. Finally she blurts out that her boyfriend was shot at the liquor store only a few blocks from her house.

He was dead.

She was not with him when it happened - some friends had to tell her. Why? How? But I don't ask. I don't want to upset her even more. She well tell me later.

"I'm so sorry Jamie", I tell her but it comes out sounding mechanical like a recording. I have said the same words too many times before.

"Where are you Jamie? Are you at your mom's?"


"Ok, just stay there and don't come in. When is the funeral?"

"I called his sister and I think it will be this Saturday."

"Ok, just stay out till next week and we will talk then." I make a mental note to let the school pschycologist know.

I sit stunned and drained. I stare at the pile of algebra class work on my desk waiting for me to grade and record. Slowly I compose myself and begin preparing for the day.

Students will be arriving soon and I have give each of them a cherry "Good morning". Many of them will have their own trajedies to tell me.

Posted by roadapples at 05:07 AM | Comments (3)

January 18, 2006

say goodby to romeo

Click to enlarge.

A teacher could not ask for a nicer group of students. I have between 25 and 28 students at any one time. Some come for a semester; other stay as long as four years. The charismatic young man in the middle of the gaggle of girls in the photo above is the current class Romeo. He will be nineteen in May.

A lifetime, four kids, two wives, 5 mortgages, eight automobiles, three dogs, one cat, and an assortment of pets ago, I would have been happy to follow this guy around just to have a chance at his cast offs. I was not in this fellow’s league when I was his age.

I love his excuses when he does not show up for school. "My girl won't let me get out of bed, dude."

So being a much more mature male and his teacher, I say things like, "You have to think about your future and forget about the distractions."

Yeah right, the distractions.

Did I really say that? Yyyesss.

Did he agree with me? Yyyyeeesss.

Do you think he listened? Nnnnooooooo.

I call him my amigo and if I was 35 years younger, I would have been his brutha from anutha mutha, G.

But alas, he has stayed in bed one time too many and I must reassign him. By the laws of the state of Wisconsin, he now meets the definition of truancy. Rules and regulations you understand.

I will miss you dude.

Posted by roadapples at 01:32 PM | Comments (2)

January 11, 2006

a tale of two cousins

Trina and Kianna are cousins. They have the same dreams for the future: romance, a nice home, kids, a good job someday. But they grew up in two different worlds. The father of one was an uncle of the other. I say "was" because he died at an early age. I am not sure why. I know a lot about my students but not everything.

One grew up in a loving family with a doting mom willing and able to dispense hugs and swats as needed. Because she lived in a home full of sisters and brothers to care for, and a stable environment, one grew up knowing that she was loved and needed. I don't have to spend too much time motivating her to succeed; she does most of it herself. And, with a simple phone call, her mom is always ready to lend a hand.

The other has been in and out of more foster homes than she could count. Her mother has been addicted to crack and any other boutique drug-of-the-month available on the street. She has very little motivation and not much of a sense that she has a future beyond next Friday night.

My school is an alternative high school for at-risk students. I only have twenty five students at any one time, give or take a couple. But I teach every subject they need to graduate and they need twenty two credits. They come to my school as the last resort. You might say, I am their last and only hope - a lifeboat so to speak. Some get in and make it to shore, but many don't. These two cousins represent a good example of the range of students that are in my care.

Can you tell which is which by looking at them? I couldn't if I didn't know them. They both have beautiful smiles and a carefree air about them. The resiliency of youth can mask a lot of deep seated anger and hurt sometimes and this was a good day for both of them. They have their ups and downs. Recently, the one that needed a good home started living with the one that had one. There have been disputes between the moms in the past but blood is thicker than water. I wonder how long it will last.

Posted by roadapples at 05:45 PM | Comments (5)