Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Although We've Come To The End Of The Road ...

During your time in louisiana, what was your most favorite memories at Fisher High School?

So ... since I do not usually edit the question, I'm going to take advantage of the grammatical dilemma of this sentence by taking advantage that is written in both the single (was) and plural (memories) ... I gladly except that challenge bc I don't have just one ... and that I can have piece of mind knowing I wasn't the english teacher ... I'm kidding here!

I had a blast teaching at Fisher High School in Lafitte, LA (just south of New Orleans) for 3 wonderful years (Aug 09- Jun 12).  

It is honestly difficult to come up with an exclusive list of great memories, since so many were made ... so I will list a few and explain as well as add a few of my own grammatical errors.

This is not the typical question asked of me in here but I will jump at the opportunity!!

1st - I made some great relationships with some people that I hope to stay in touch with for a long time.  I chose teaching as a profession after dealing with the disillusion of working in the field of adolescent psychology.  As a pastor, I learned quickly that we live in a glass house ... and much of our "advice" on "behalf of God" was completely erroneous and subjective to the protection of working within the church walls ... bc no one there verbally throws a tantrum over who goes first at the copy machine and the coffee is usually always free.  In the class environment, students aren't trying to impress Pastor Pat ... I am merely a teacher ... in most opinions of the trade, one step above lawyers ... so I live in the element ... and for those looking for help ... I gained wonderful insight and experience.  Relationships formed here were genuine ... I had to earn respect (and keep it).  I had to fix what I had done wrong ... I had to on up to my own mistakes and shortcomings ... if I gained the respect of my leaders, peers, or students, it was bc I had earned it.  Those relationships I place great value on.  After all, human relationships are a gift from God to humanity!

2nd - The loss to John Curtis in 2011.  I know that seems a strange choice ... but I had been consistently after the members of the team I could influence about believing in themselves.  When I first arrived at Fisher, the players went into those games with the belief that they could not win ... and they played accordingly ... guys that could stand toe to toe physically with anyone ... guys who had impressive personal strength laid over like wet paper towels in their heart, mind, and body.  Don't be deceived, I know that JC is a very talented team and that bc of the differences of capability to attract players from around the country to play (we were locked to our small district, they weren't) made it next to impossible to line up in depth to a team of that caliber ... add to the fact that they place winning games as their priority (I know this bc I was offered to teach there ... had keys to my class when I was informed of this) ... but my players laid down and were humiliatingly butchered.  By this game I had pressed them hard to believe ... those that would listen.  I had been working with a small group off season who were willing to learn proper running form (almost impossible to find down here) and increase their speed and stamina.  We did lose ... and they eventually ran up the score.   But we, according to what JT Curtis told us, gave them the best 1st quarter they could remember a public school in our class giving them.  We forced several turnovers and went after them ... but .. alas they guys couldn't keep the intensity forever ... but they never took their starters off of the field.  They faced the impossible and never let down.  It set the stage for what would be a championship season the next year ... for a moment, you young men knew what it was to be a champion ... and some of you get to take that with you the rest of your lives.  Champions do more than win, they lose fighting ... their necks never bow ... their shoulders never fall.  A lot of losers win ... but it changes nothing.  Champions prepare for the game like they expect to win it ... and often do.  Champions refuse to accept defeat before the final tick and use it after to sharpen their skills.  I was a part of that ... and it felt good.

3rd - I watched a group of students who lived at the "barely existing" academic level learn to believe in themselves.  The test scores told the tale ... my classes consistently were the top of the district's public schools.  There were some struggles ... but I saw a group of young men and women learn to value and work to increase their ability in subjects they found no interest in ... a vital characteristic of a successful life: self-discipline.  Many of the students were honest about their shortcomings and did what it took to fix them.  Most of my students were willing to account for their mistakes and own up to them.  What more could I ask for?  I wish all my students excelled ... some didn't.  But some of the few who quit on themselves have since picked up and are making their lives better ... lessons learned late are still learned and in the long run, life will be good for them.

4th - The BBQ at the end of 2012.  We were supposed to have a reenactment of the Battle of New Orleans using nerf guns on the practice field ... but the state dogs showed up and the school admin reacted wrong (in my opinion) in response to the surprise visit.  The deal had been since the beginning that if the MS and HS scored above the goals set for math and history in testing, we would have the nerf gun war and the BBQ.  It had been made in response to the admin stressing over test scores ... I had collaborated with Mr Price (the history teacher) and pitched it to the principal and he approved it.  We revisited the plan several times through the school year ... we had hundreds of pounds of chicken quarters, hamburgers, and so on donated ... we even had a BBQ pit trailer donated by Mark Dumatrait.  But the admin shut the war down ... we were going to alter the plan to playing games on the field with them ... but they were kept in their rooms.  After lunch they were eventually released to eat.  Why would this be a great memory?  Well ... bc I took my classes out anyways (I had permission) and we enjoyed a great day cooking and visiting ... talking about their futures and ours.  It was a great day.

5th - I took my classes outside as often as I could ... and we relaxed ... and sometimes even learned stuff!!

6th - Winning the Crescent City Conference Championship in 2012.  It was a great moment ... and I told the team that years from now this will be something that they will draw on ... bc so many few experience it.  Many talk about what they would do if they could do it again ... this group did it.  It, however, wasn't a top listing memory bc I knew it wouldn't be followed up.  The majority of the team, once they earned the trip to the champs, began slacking off in practice.  The fact was that winning was a probability, since we were playing against a team we had easily beaten several weeks before.  I told those who would listen that I, as a student, experienced losing a playoff game to a team we had handled easily and were expected to beat up on again ... and I have tasted that loss since ... even with all of my wins and championships ... that loss (and one other) have persisted in my memories ... always reminding me that I can't slip into neutral .. that I must play through the whistle ... run through the finish line ... not just to it.  I knew that we had beat a couple of teams that, by the numbers, we shouldn't have ... but the young men had played believing ... and were disciplined ... and fortunate.  But those teams would be studying our offense and defense ... and would be ready.  Champions rarely repeat bc teams study them to unlock their secrets.  I watched them the following year from a distance ... and it was not good.  People like to blame the coaches ... but I knew the hearts of the players ... for many, one winning season was all they wanted ... all they could believe for.  It was a wonderful moment ... and for those who experienced it and didn't lose heart the following years, even though they faced defeat, it will be a smiling memory for the rest of our lives!

7th - Lunch.  We had a lot of fun in there!

8th - Soccer.  We had a lot to learn and it was hard to fit in a practice schedule when we were borrowing so many athletes from other sports.  But we made a lot of progress.  The boys team were always competitive ... the girls struggled at first ... but ended up making a lot of improvements.  It was a young program ... still in its infancy ... with players who knew little of the game, for the most part ... but lessons were learned out there that no classroom could teach.  The girls playoff game vs Neuman was a key game for me ... they held their positions and their responsibilities and held a state champion soccer team that frequently scored over 25pts in the playoff games to only 6 points ... most of them scored in the first 5 minutes of the game ... but once we settled in they could not score ... and we frustrated them!  We had a few shots on goal ... none of them were successful ... but it didn't matter.  The boys playoff that year was similar ... the only goals scored were scored early.  

I know it may seem strange that some of my favorite memories involve losing but I have a reason for that.  Losing is a part of life ... the fact is whether we realize it or not ... we lose more that we win ... that is how it is.  How many prestigious jobs do we apply for in our life's span?  How many of those jobs do we get?  Sometimes it's only one ... but for champions ... one is all we need because we can keep it ... respect it ... honor it.  

9th - the 7th grade math classes!  I thought that those classes were going to be a disaster ... I am more than slightly sarcastic ... I have been told I am a little on the cold side when it comes to my reaction to people's emotional responses.  I do care ... I just don't cry with people ... and it started rough.  I had several parents demanding my head ... I had to adjust to my students ... and they had to adjust to me.  If the tale of the tape is told by test results ... how does 97% sound?  We had a blast.  We had nerf gun wars in the classroom (a game I have to help with mastery of concepts) ... we hung stick figures ... we laughed ... some of them cried .. we ate well.  It was the best that it could have been.  

10th - Middles School Football.  We went from a group of kids being baby sat with a football to a team of athletes who knew how to win.  We beat Belle Chase for the first time in memorable history .. we took it to Algeirs Charter ... a team comprised of 5 schools (all larger than our own) with several players who were obviously highschool players.  We had organized practices, disciplined technique drills, and athletes who believed they could beat anyone.  Because of that they frequently scored touchdowns ... forced fumbles and interceptions ... made a lot of defensive goal line stands ... it was awesome!!  We won more games than the program had won in the previous two decades combined finishing 5-4.  I wish I could take the credit as the head coach ... but I can't.  My idea was to mirror the offensive and defensive packages of the Varsity program (though I considered them a disaster) but I found help in the genius of a parent who volunteered to help me with coaching the team ... I believe the credit belongs largely to Terrence Verrette.  But I got to be out there and be a part of it ... and it was wonderful.

Those are my ten top runner up memories ...

My top memory involves why I really chose to become a teacher ... you see, teaching was a ploy for me ... an opportunity to bring Jesus to children where they need Him most ... in real life ... where He longs to be presented.  Several of my students became actively involved in my youth and young adult programs at my church ... several made decisions to follow Christ.  Some fell away ... and that is sad for me ... but I know they heard what they needed to.  We started a student led program at school during lunch and met at the flag and prayed for the school every month ... it wasn't a large group ... but it was everything it needed to be.  Every lunch meeting we had a classroom full of students who were there for one reason.  I thank God for that.

My thoughts are forever with that group, as they are with others.  We leave places, never people.  I thank God for facebook and twitter ... bc I get to keep up with my students ... most for the better, some for the worse.

I will always be around for any who need me.

That's my take anyways ... awesome question.  So what are your thoughts?

Don't be confused.  LEARN STUFF!!!
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  1. This was a great post! Thank you for bringing back all of those memories. Those students were definitely blessed by your presence, and are better students today because of those experiences. Sometimes it's fascinating for a teacher to finally find out the extremes students (and parents, and siblings) went through to not disappoint a teacher. For example, being able to enter campus after hours is crucial when needing a forgotten assignment. It just proves that when a teacher sets expectations really high, a student (and family) will work diligently to ensure the standards are met.

    On a serious note, thank you for teaching those students during a very difficult 'transitional' year. It was a tough year for all involved. However, having such a caring and motivating group of teachers that year made all the difference. It helped to set the standard for their remaining academic career. The '26', as they are called, are still facing challenges but they are succeeding. Again, thank you. :)

  2. I enjoyed the 26 immensely. One of the benefits of embracing change and the unexpected is the gift of relationships. I formed some with ppl I might never otherwise known ... and those relationships I treasure.

    Thanks for your comments.