Christmas Week

Another week has gone by, 10 days actually.  Wednesday was Christmas, which was a very low-key event this year.  No one in our family could muster up enough energy to put up the tree or decorate the place.  There were few presents.  Still, we had a nice time.  Our afternoon was spent with friends eating Vietnamese Soup and playing board games.

For the past 10 days, I have also attended more than the usual number of church services.  I’ve played electric, acoustic, classical and bass in that span of time, mostly due to others taking time off from the band to go elsewhere for Christmas.  I was even the sole male vocalist yesterday, and to my knowledge, that has never happened in 20 years of playing in this band; most of the time, they don’t allow me to sing at all (because I’m concentrating on playing and because we have plenty of singers)!  With the New Year, things should get back to normal at church… including getting back to The Story, a Bible Study series we’re doing for Adult Ed.  This means that I have a bunch of powerpoints to make for that Adult Ed. class.  I’ve made two this week, 17 more to go!

With Christmas over, I finally began to study for the English CSET.  In just a few days now, I have learned so much!  I hope I can retain it!  I feel like I have just been through a couple semesters of College English.  I’ll continue working right up until the test in two weeks.

I have also taken some time to rest in the evenings.  I call it quits around 5PM most days.  Barbara is more studious – she’ll work until past midnight most days for her CSET.  Courtney and I have been binging on TV series in the evenings (Heroes & Battlestar Galactica).  This weekend, we also saw a couple of movies on our new Amazon Video Channel.

We have heard from Jeffrey twice this week.  We were expecting the call we got yesterday because it was one of the three official calls Jeffrey gets during boot camp.  This was the week 4 call where he is supposed to verify that we’re coming.  He already knew we were coming, so we just talked.  He was also able to talk to us on Christmas Day (in lieu if actually getting Christmas off).  I wonder if he’ll also call us on New Year’s for the same reason?  It’s Barbara’s birthday, so that would be cool if it happened.  So far, Jeffrey is doing fine, but is also ready for boot camp to be over.  He is looking forward to “Beast Week” this week where the trainees spend a week surviving out in the wilderness and climbing up big hills in full gear.

Good-bye long-term sub, hello English CSET

Yesterday, I turned in my key and drove away from school with all my stuff.  It’s sad.  I did get to meet the teacher, and he’s pretty awesome.  The kids are going to like him a lot.  Strange, he looks like a thinner version of me; same age and same salt-and-pepper gotee.  The two of us will spend one transition day together in January and then I’ll be an on-call sub again… unless I get another long-term assignment.  For now though, it’s going to be all about the studying as I prepare for my English CSET exam.

After school, I had a Christmas lunch with the middle school teachers.  They haven’t seen me since I began my long-term assignment, so they were asking me all about it.  I had had an opportunity to see the middle school kids earlier in the day, since they were having a rally at the High School gym, not far from my classroom.  So many of the kids that I had taught last year and a little bit this year have grown so much!  One of my master teachers from last year has lost a lot of weight!  After lunch, my wife and I went home, only to prepare for the next party for our lifegroup.  That party was fun and loud: good food, good conversations, lots of wine and scotch.

Jeffrey has now ended his third week of training, which I understand is a prelude to the week four events: obstacle course and gas chamber.  One sounds fun, the other sounds annoying: really, why subject people to teargas?

The week that was

One more week to go for this long-term contract; I’m bummed, the other teachers are bummed and so are my students.  I do hope that I can eventually find permanent employment at this school – I really like it!  Alas, it seems that the teachers themselves have found a suitable replacement for me.  A guy who used to work at the school recently contacted one of the teachers while looking for a teaching gig.  He had left to pursue greener pastures years ago, but discovered that he didn’t like commuting, so now he wants back.  They intend to hire him since he’s well liked, very competent, and holds an English Credential.  I guess they aren’t going to go with a second long-term substitute after all (which would have made me the top candidate for next school year).  I’ll need to find another opening for next year.

Meanwhile, I got an inquiry from the district just north of me, asking me if I was free for the second half of the year.  Perhaps they have a long-term sub position, or even real employment?  One can only hope.

My son is just finishing up week two of boot camp.  I hope he had fun learning how to engage and disengage from battle, the topic for this week from what I understand.  I’ve been getting journal pages from him, which is great.  I really should write him more than I have.  I wrote twice last week, but I have yet to put pen to paper this week.  I’ve been consumed with class finals.  I’m mostly done with that now, so I have no excuse not to write this weekend.

A Jeffrey sighting

A collection of pictures showed up on the Air Force Training FB page yesterday.  After sorting through about 150 pictures of various recruits with Santa, we found our son!  Jeffrey lives!


Today is December 7th, Pearl Harbor day.  As a History teacher, I really wish this date didn’t fall on a weekend because it doesn’t give me a chance to focus on it.  Maybe next year.

This weekend, I get to put together the Final for my two English classes.  I’m using a canned Final for American Government.  Oral Composition will not get a final — we’ll just watch a movie.  I’m also putting together a presentation for this weekend’s interest meeting on my “Footsteps of Paul” tour.  I’m so excited about this tour; I just hope 24ish people are also excited enough to want to go with me.

Today, there was a slight possibility of snow in the Bay Area.  I just checked – no snow.  It has not snowed here since I have lived here.  It last snowed the year before I arrived here, 1976.

Gee, I’m really well-liked!

So sweet! Yesterday, both the head of the History department and the heads of the English department wanted to know if I was staying on.  When I told them what the administration was thinking, they said they would talk to the principal and see if there was any way to keep me, since they all really liked me.  Today I found out that, although they fought for me, and were even willing to move classes around to make my class more history-oriented, the principal remained firm in his conviction that anyone who replaced the former teacher would need an English credential as a minimum requirement.  I was out of luck.  The teachers also told me that the principal really likes me and respects me a lot and that if there were any openings in History, I’d be first in line to be chosen.  With all this goodwill, it seems reasonably certain that I’ll have a job next year at this school… provided that something opens up.  By next year, I should have three credentials, so my odds are pretty good I think.  For the rest of the year though, it will be on-call substituting unless another long-term contract opens up.  They do need someone long-term for math, but I don’t want to do that job, and I think I need to be not working for a while before I can legally take another long-term contract.  Maybe I’ll get a contract in February after I’ve returned from seeing my son graduate from basic training.

Not the best way to start the Christmas (teaching) season

The fun continues with this long-term substitute position I have.  As mentioned previously, the plan was to have me teach until Christmas break, then do one transition day in January to help the other teacher return to teaching.  Well, on Wednesday before I left for Thanksgiving break, I heard that the teacher wasn’t doing well and was back in the hospital with kidney issues.  He was not doing well.  This led me to believe that he wasn’t coming back soon.  I was right.  Today at lunchtime, we were notified that he had passed-away Wednesday afternoon, right before Thanksgiving.  I was saddened by the news, but I also sort of expected it.  I wasn’t sure if I should tell the kids or wait for an administrator or counsellor to break the bad news.  I needn’t have concerned myself with this – the kids knew by the end of lunch.  My how gossip spreads!  The mood during the next two periods was sullen.  When I got home, I had some time to think about what this might mean for me.  At first, I was hopeful about the possibility of teaching for the rest of the year, but then I had this thought that without an English credential, the school may not want to keep me in the classroom.  They would need a replacement teacher who had both an English Credential and a Social Studies Credential like he had had.  I was right too: I got an email from the principal asking me how soon I was going to get my English credential.  I emailed him back that it wouldn’t be until April of next year at the earliest.  His next email was pretty short and sweet: Tell the kids tomorrow that they will have a new teacher next semester.  Apparently, I can only teach so many days as a long-term sub before the school has to hire me and they wouldn’t hire me without an English credential so they had to let me go at the end of my current contract.  It was the right decision for the given situation, though I still thought it sucked.  What about the kids?  They need some stability after a traumatic event like this (my TA had to excuse herself from class today so she could go and cry for half an hour!).  I guess rules are rules, but it’s not the best thing for the students in this case.  About an hour after the email exchange, I got a call cancelling that one transition day in January.  I guess with his passing, there really was no need for me to help anyone at the start of the new semester.  Whoever they hire will be on their own (with no curriculum and three very different subjects to teach).