I spent the late morning/early afternoon at Grafton Middle School and, sadly, failed in my parental duty. I didn’t embarrass my son AT ALL and, in fact, I was running into other parents (sometimes literally, sorry, halls were crowded) everywhere.
I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the boy-child’s teachers. The kids were really enthusiastic in most of the classes and I have to point out that Mr. Mitchell, who had 27 kids jammed into his tiny social studies classroom, had them completely riveted while talking about Zimbabwe (referencing Robert Mugabe’s #4 placement on Parade magazine’s list of the 10 worst dictators — and then going through the list and discussing each of them and their atrocities — was a nice touch, as was including photos of Mugabe’s mansion in his lesson).
And yes, the middle school is really crowded — 27 seemed the norm for the kid’s classes and room sizes varied — and it’s not, physically, in the best shape. At this point in time, however, he’s thriving there and I can’t imagine pulling him out just because I’m not a fan of the building.
Highlights from my notebook:
- I can’t believe the size of the binders the kids are carrying around. One kid’s binder was at least 10 inches thick, something which I marveled at until he opened it up and a rolled-up sweatshirt tumbled out. Backpacks go in lockers during the school day, of course, but the kids in the hallways were all carrying stacks of books and binders — if we could put the books on barbells, we could almost count the switches between classes as physical education!
- Label on the wall of the Earth Science teacher’s classroom: Campbell’s Primordial Soup.
- Why I should not shadow my son: he volunteered to bring in play dough, which I must make after writing this, to make scale models of maps.
- Easy Batman costume demonstrated by a kid acting up before class starts — remove cloth book cover, put on head.
- The kids reading out loud in Language Arts don’t. pause. between. words. awkwardly. like I remember the kids in my school — even as high as high school — doing when they read out loud. Thank God.
- The classroom clock worked in only one of the four classrooms I visited.
- I totally rocked the “Jeopardy!” game the Language Arts Extension teacher sprang on the kids as a quiz. Proof that Mrs. Athanas can think on her feet: she had created a Powerpoint version of the game to use on the classroom’s SmartBoard, but when it failed to work during a trial run before school, she quickly whipped up a substitute on an easel. I’ve never seen kids so eager to explain forms of literature before.
- I’ll admit it: I skipped out on the morning classes because I feared Mr. Hammond. I’m told he’s been springing math quizzes on the parents, and THAT really would have embarrassed my son!