Saturday, September 12, 2009

Surveying the Damage

Last night was the first Friday of the school year. This one was drastically different building-wide and was cause for celebration rather than recovery.

Last year at the end of the first week the eighth grade team had been smashed, trampled and burned to the ground. At the end of the work day on that Friday I was found in my room staring blankly at the damage that had been done to the room and to my ego. I felt so numb that to make any decision was nearly impossible. It was at that point that I was rounded up with the rest of the newbies and ordered to go to the staff's locale of choice: a bar off Arthur Avenue near what used to be our sister school.

The staff was exhausted and many of us were licking our wounds. My overloaded classes had blazed a trail for chaos and I was holding on for the ride. I had no idea where it was going to take me, but at the bar I was able to get some reassurance that I was still alive and breathing; that the rest of the staff was behind me and my deflated team. The principal of our school is very concerned about the staff (in a good way) and generally lays down a few fistfuls of cash when the staff goes out after major mile-markers during the year, the first Friday being one of them. Things took a while to turn around after that, but the staff that attended that night made it clear that they were behind the new teachers.

Yesterday I went to the same locale as last year not only to celebrate the success that was seen school-wide, but to see how the new teachers were doing. While some of them seemed pretty tired, there was no sign that the a group of a hundred students had trod them into the ground. It was nice to see.

We all agreed that the school got off to an exceptionally smooth start. A few things put into place helped with this, especially a lot of planning and prep work by the administration and guidance team. The number of new teachers to the school and the field was also drastically smaller. I credit this in part to the economy being in the crapper during the past year- no one wants to give up there job, especially as the NYC DOE put a hiring freeze on what suddenly became decent jobs because of their security. I would give more credit, however, to the fact that our principal was able to hire a lot of solid candidates last year who didn't cut and run when they saw what the job is.

So, after surveying the damage, it looks like there was not a whole lot done, which allows us to move forward into the new year with a lot of life and energy.

Today's Wine: This weekend I went to a wedding out on Long Island near a bunch of wineries, so I took the opportunity to do some tastings and pick up a few bottles that I probably won't find otherwise. Out of respect for the victims of 9/11, today's wine is Lieb Cellar's "September Mission Merlot," which is dedicated to those lost during that day's tragedies. A portion of the profits go to the September Mission Foundation, which sets up cultural and educational programs to remember the victims of 9/11. The wine itself is pretty earthy and not bad at all. It also sells for less than ten bucks a bottle ($9.11). Only 200 cases were made.

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