Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Since When?

Hm. The Mayor says I'm in the bottom 20 percent of my college class and didn't go to a very good school.

Oberlin College, my Alma Mater, is consistently ranked in the top 25 in the country. So that's a no-go. My GPA was a 3.8. That's probably going to ruin his "fact" stating right there.

He also says if he could just fire half of us union-clinging liberals (well okay, I added the liberal part in), the school system would be...HEY PRESTO! Fixed. He would simply double the class sizes and put a GOOD teacher in there.

In all my conversations with my fellow educators, guess how many times I've heard someone say, "I want more money?"

Zero. Bagels. Big fat round hole in the middle doughnuts.

The old refrain? "I want my class size to be smaller. It's impossible to do my job really well with too many kids."

When will they ever learn.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Encore La Morte

One more day. Tomorrow is the LAST. DAY. OF. SCHOOL.

This time of year teachers get..well...tired. Students get tired. Everyone is over it.

But today I showed the fifth grade the end of Carmen, which we have been watching for the past few days. I admit it, I fast forwarded through quite a lot of Act III, most notably Micaela's aria. Let's face it: Sopranos got a raw deal in this opera. Everyone puts his head back and counts the lights in the ceiling when the first chords of Je dis float over the audience. We saw the Card Scene, talked about foreshadowing, saw the knife fight and moved on.

But the end, oh the end. I watched 100 fifth graders creep further and further towards the edge of their seats as Don Jose fell to his knees and pleaded with Carmen not to leave him (by the way, Roberto Alagna and Elina Garanca, you have no idea how much you rocked the world of a bunch of 10 year olds). They hissed in disbelief as he brought the knife down next to Carmen's head. They muttered "no way is he going to kill her!" as she shrugged free of him and tossed his ring contemptuously to the ground. They gasped in horror, "NOOOO!" as he dealt the coup de grace and she sank, lifeless, to the floor. "MISS CLARA HOW COULD HE DO THAT????

Because that, my children, is Art. Go forth and buy tickets.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wider Still and Wider

Wow. Um. Yeah I know. Seven months later or so.

What a year.

When I sort it all out, I'll post it. For now:

So this week we had auditions for the annual talent show. One of my favorite students (yes, we do have our favorites, live with it), let's call him Ibrahim, decided to audition with his guitar. Which he has been "studying" for one week.

A little background: earlier this year Social Services visited his house because his "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" essay detailed how he went somewhere very private and learned how to shoot AK47's. With a name like Ibrahim, you can guess what conclusions were drawn.

And...this a child of God. His sweet soul shines out of his face. When I played the opening chorus of the Bach "Magnificat" earlier in the year, he sat, transfixed. When it ended, he waved his hand madly in the air. "Miss Clara! THIS...This MUSIC...makes you FEEL things!" This kid could no more be a terrorist than the kittens on icanhascheezeburger. All year long he questions, "Miss Clara, why did King Henry do that? How did Mozart decide that? What did Beethoven do after that?" And nods thoughtfully after every answer - or responds eagerly to the question I ask back.

So up he gets on the stage and plays one note at a time: Dum..dummmmm...dum dum dum/dum...dummmmm....dum dum dum....

Miss Clara (to Principal): the terrorist playing "Havah Nagilah?

Principal: Uh...yep.

Four bars. Then he jumps up. "That's it!"

I pull him aside. Where did he learn that? Oh, he's been studying for a week with his Argentinian friend. Apparently, the friend is an Argentinian Jew.

In another month, I have to let Ibrahim go. I will watch him march solemnly down the aisle to the strains of "Pomp and Circumstance," and hand him one of two new honors awards this year - for Music Historian. I feel pretty good about him though. I did my job. That which the lyrics to Pomp and Circumstance are all about:

Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.