Saturday I went downtown and walked two miles for leukemia for “light the night” I thought it was going to be a run. I was misinformed, but I came out of it with a two bunches of free bananas and a belly full of free pizza and soy granola bars, so it was all good. I also power read cider house rules because I need to finish that. I’m almost done now, if you care.
Sunday I was going to meet my sister Emily downtown to feed the homeless, but I got a little lost and she got done early so we met up for like five minutes. Oh well.
It was all good, because then I met Bradford at the Hancock building. We went downstairs and were asked to show our University of Chicago I.D.’s He had one, so did his other friend. I didn’t as I do not go there. But I was let in as a guest, and I was the only guest.
We went all the way to the top floor, and viewed the city. There was also free food. It was amazing.
Monday we got into Howe for the first time to really get it cleaned out. First we toured it extensively, and I found some amazing posters on the third floor that say things like “pollution pete” and “Danny and the Doughnuts”
These are now hanging in my bedroom.
We also cleaned out one massive room, for starfish corps (third through fifth after school) and several other rooms for the junior great books sessions (sixth through eighth during school). The building we are in is forgotten by most of the school. We get two floors to ourselves, but it is a concrete building with few windows that never gets cleaned by the schools janitorial staff. Thus; it is disgusting. We found a city year coat from last year, proof that it has not been touched. We found bread as well. And a cupcake with one bite out of it. Some cigarette butts. The third floor is haunted and doesn’t have heat. We’re not technically allowed to have students in it. It was supposed to be torn down four years ago. You know, the usual. Apparently they use our rooms as storage for all the things that have no home. Then we come and clean it up, and use it for the year. Rinse and repeat.
Tuesday we did a lot more cleaning, but first we actually met the kids on the playground. I felt like a zoo animal, they kept staring at me and whispering to each other about how tall I am. I love being dutch…
We split up and went into various sixth through eighth grade classrooms as well, just to see how it worked. I started in a seventh grade reading/writing class, and they had just gotten a new book shipment. They were all looking at the books, they like Bluford High and Artimis Fowl. The teacher had great control of them. I was impressed.
Next was the eighth grade boys, the eighth grade is the only grade split by gender. It’s a Pilot Program, just like my Junior Great books sessions. I’m piloting a pilot. WHEN DOES IT END? The eighth grade boys were incredibly well behaved. There was only really one problem child, and you could spot him a mile away because he had a popped collar. I wanted so badly to tell him it doesn’t look good on anyone, but it’s not my place.
The eighth grade girls…
They were hormonal. At best. And the teacher didn’t handle them so well. She was a first year teacher, and they took advantage of that. (all the teachers in the school are first or second year, thanks AUSL!) The girls ran that classroom though. Every time the teacher turned around, they were kicking the smaller girls over, passing notes by walking across the room, one girl even just strait up left. That room made me a little nervous. I hope I’m not put in there.
AUSL is an initiative that takes failing schools and replaces the entire staff with younger people and cuts down the population of the school so they can be better managed. Howe underwent this process two years ago. I like it, it employs younger people, so they can get a job easier without a teaching history, and also gets more energy into the kids, because lets face it, old people and middle schoolers aren’t going to mesh well. Its part of the “no child left behind program”
The other part of that is the bi weekly assessments that the students need to pass regularly for the teacher to keep their job. This part is lame, because it makes all of the teachers need to teach the same caliber, because they need to teach to the tests. The tests don’t even follow the textbooks. One of the teachers complained to us for a good thirty seconds about it, it sounds awful.
Yesterday was opening day. We painted an old convent now used to house mentally disabled folk. Then there was an awkward ceremony that thankfully didn’t last very long. My mother and sister came and my mother gave me a teapot and some craisons. Those are similar to raisons, but made of cranberries.