Monday, June 8, 2009


The day started off a little ominously this morning with rainy skies, and lightning, and rumblings. It has turned out to be quite alright, though. The skies have gone to partly cloudy with big puffy cumulus cotton balls floating by. There are runners and bikers on the path and swimmers in the lake , and even a lone water skier. It's 83 degrees at the Mini. It's summertime and the living is easy. Thank you Mr. Gershwin.

The last few days have been a bit hectic. It's the last week of school in educationland, and that brings with it all those things you may or may not remember. Prepping for final exams. Taking final exams. "Can I take it over again Mr. Ray? Is there anything I can do for extra credit?' Oh yeah, the moment of panic for the students who know in their heart of hearts that they screwed up. For the record, Mr. Ray has been warning them all year long and he doesn't do extra credit, at the last minute. Shoulda done what you were supposed to do when it was supposed to be done.

Some who were borderline and showed that they actually knew a little something and a few who were dumb as rocks but really tried hard, well those kids will get the benefit of the doubt and a pleasant surprise when they find out Mr. Ray actually has a heart. Shhh! Don't tell them that beneath that gruff exterior is a real softy. "You owe me kid, big time. Don't forget that." I'll be their friend forever.

At this point, all of the papers are graded. All of the grades are entered online. Just trying to get most of the textbooks back to minimize the number of debt slips for non-returned books. Inevitably, scads will fail to bring the books back and 2 or 3 years from now when they're ready to graduate they'll be told that they still owe $75 for a book they didn't bring back to Mr. Ray. Much moaning, wailing, and gnashing of teeth ensues. They come to see Mr. Ray with a sob story and a "I brought that book back. Don't you remember?" To this the standard reply is "No I don't remember. That was several hundred students ago, and I don't remember about all of those books. That's why I keep written records, and according to the records, I never saw the book. You owe the school $75." Much moaning, wailing, and gnashing of teeth ensues yet again. "Could I check through that stack of books and see if it's there?" To this, the standard reply, "Knock yourself out. Just restack them as neatly as you found them when you're through." On a few rare occasions the student actually finds the book, or remembers that they have it at home and they manage to get it back to me. It is then that I have to tell them. I don't want this. You need to show it to the office that handles the debts. Let them see it and they'll remove the debt.

Then there are the panic-stricken who realize that they have screwed up beyond redemption and must consider the worst of all possible options, Summer School. The realization that instead of sleeping late and playing video games, they will be getting up early and spending half days in a classroom, taking a class they hate, for the second time, washes over them and the sadness and resignation becomes apparent in their faces. Then it occurs to them. "Will you be teaching summer school, Mr. Ray?" "Nope! I'm taking the summer off. I'll be sleeping in, thank you very much." Then they begin wondering, "Will you be my teacher again next year, Mr. Ray?" In this case, both parties, student and teacher are much relieved at the "Nope," answer. This kid does not want to see me again for a long while and I generally feel the same way about them. "Go away kid. Work on your study habits. Get a new teacher who doesn't have pre-existing ideas about you, and start afresh." Meanwhile, I'll take on a new crop, who have to get used to me and me to them. That's a whole summer away, though.

Meanwhile, there's a rainbow over Navy Pier, and by all appearances that pot of gold must be in Indiana somewhere, maybe at one of those casinos over there. The running path awaits me. The tennis courts beckon. The tires on my bike need airing. The next 2 1/2 months look pretty good to me. By then I'll be ready to face it again. And Mr. Gershwin's lyrics ramble around in my head, "It's summertime and ...." mixed with "Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck gettin...." and "In the summertime when the weather is hot, you can reach right up and touch the sky. In the summertime, you got women, you got women on your mind...." Cheers, boys and girls. Summertime is just about to begin.

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