Bits and Pieces Through the Years, Part II

As I think back over the many incidents that took place in the education field during my tenure, I’m reminded of the following:

The awards assembly
Once during the middle school achievement awards assembly, a teacher started to read the names of students who had earned BUG Awards. She started out by saying, “For those of you who may not know, B-U-G stands for students who have brung up (their) grades.”

The spelling bee
And earlier that year, the teacher in charge of administering the middle school spelling bee contributed a real gem of a flub one day in the same auditorium.

The word which a contestant was given was pronounced by the teacher as “alpha alpha.” Without hesitation the student asked to have it repeated and then sought to have the definition of the word given. That was followed by a request for the teacher to use it in a sentence. The student misspelled the word and was eliminated from the contest.

That whole scenario was repeated with the next student, and the third and fourth one up, also. All of them were eliminated as the teacher pronounced the word the same way every time. Finally, as the fifth student came up for his turn at the mystery word, another teacher raced on stage and whispered into the ear of the teacher in charge of the contest.

I’m sorry,” the teacher in charge announced into the microphone, “That last word should have been ‘alfalfa.’” Those students who were eliminated were then permitted to re-enter the contest. I guess the teacher was not as familiar with an alfalfa crop as the local rural students were. Sorry, Pete Noel of Portage, but I just had to include your name in this story.

And me, too
During homeroom period one morning, a particularly important message was coming up during the televised announcements. I grabbed my remote and pressed the (+) button numerous times to increase the volume to make sure all the students could hear it.

The critical statement was well over by the time I realized I was pressing the “plus” sign on my calculator.

At times the retort is on purpose
I was having a particularly bad day with a student who would not stop interrupting class with his outbursts. This student was rather large for his age, to say the least, and his behavior and poor attitude were well known throughout the school. After warning him no fewer than three or four times that day, I demanded that he move up the aisle and take a seat very close to the front of the room where I was standing. “One more outburst and you’re staying after school,” I asserted.

Are you going to take me home?” he asked with a smirk.

If I can borrow a crane from the New Enterprise Stone & Lime Company,” I retorted. Sorry readers, but even the most polite teachers can only take so much from students who repeatedly and intentionally misbehave.

Planned, but with humor
While teaching a unit involving genetics to my junior high and middle school students, I used a particular line probably over a dozen times.

Normally, we compared the ability to roll our tongues, checked out our ear lobes, and analyzed the color of students' eyes as examples of hereditary traits. We often went on to other characteristics, including whether a student was right-handed or left-handed. Usually I would encounter a few students who thought they were ambidextrous and could use both hands equally well.

So, I would begin to set them up. Yes, I know it might be considered cruel, but I couldn't help myself. I would ask questions such as “Which hand do you write with? Which hand do you use when you eat with a fork or spoon? Which hand do you use to throw a ball?”

The answers they gave had nothing to do with where I was heading, nor where I was leading them. I'd finish up with the grand finale, asking, “What hand do you use when you wipe your bum?”

And after they answered, I'd hit them with, “You do? I use toilet paper!”

And flubs run in my family, too
I’ll never forget the time my mom called a night club on the morning of New Year’s Eve to inquire about reserving a table for later that evening. “Is it too late to make New Year’s ‘resolutions’?” she asked politely.

Or – the time my wife instructed me to move the milk carton as I placed it in our refrigerator. “Why?” I inquired. She replied, “I don’t like to keep the milk that close to the light bulb for fear that the milk might spoil.”

A few years earlier, I was mixing sand and cement to lay blocks for the house we were building at the time. My wife was tending to our one-month-old daughter that summer and could spend very little time with me on the building site. As I was mixing the contents in the wheel barrow, I said something like, “I need just a little water added to this.”

Keep in mind that at this time in our building project, there were no walls, roof, lumber, concrete floor, or even electric power at the site. But, God bless her, she felt that she needed to help. While holding our daughter in one arm, she grabbed the water bucket with the other and asked, as she started toward the copper water pipe protruding from the ground, “Hot or cold?”

My son, too
Dave Junior is no dummy. He has both a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in architectural engineering from Penn State. His board scores were the highest in our family among five college grads and, according to a battery of tests, he was found to be gifted in math. Yet – while working on a secret government task during his summer internship in Washington, DC one summer, he actually thought the project was located in Clandestine, Virginia.

Unfit for the newspapers
It was apparent that it was time for him to retire when a good friend and colleague of mine reached the end of his rope during his last year of teaching.

As a student walked out of his room, (without permission) and headed down the hall, he walked by this teacher who was standing in the door way. The student was happily waving a waiver form at the teacher, proclaiming, “You can't paddle me anymore. I'm on my way to the office to give them the waver form for corporal punishment, signed by my parents.

The teacher, inquired, “So, it's not in effect yet, is it?” The young man replied, “No, not yet.”

The teacher promptly pulled him back in the room with one hand, grabbed the paddle out of his closet with the other, and paddled the kid on his buttocks. Then he instructed the boy with, “Okay, now go down the office and get that validated.”

Another time, the same teacher stepped out into the hall during a study hall toward the end of the school day, and a student walked by saying, with a mocking tone, “I have a pass – I have a pass.”

The teacher replied, “Go tell someone who gives a shit.”

Stay tuned for Part III, coming soon. 

Author’s Note: My attempts at writing old stories will come to an end with this calendar year. It has been a pleasure reminiscing those good old days with my readers.

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA