Monday, March 31, 2008


Ignore my last post about "looking for a job, blah blah blah, Jefferson County sucks, blah blah blah, I just want to teach, blah blah blah BLAH!!!" Let's focus on what's important in my world:


My life is complete. My childhood dream has come true. When Mom set me down (nearly 15 years ago) to break the news about Donnie Wahlberg burning down a hotel room and the band breaking up, I didn't beleive her. Ha! I always knew they'd be back! Oh, Joey...when I saw you on Dancing with the Stars, there was a flicker of hope in my heart. Now you are back in my life, and I still can't wait to marry you!

Now, let's just hope this source is reliable. I'm waking up at 7AM on the Friday of my spring break just to see this. It better be true.

A School-less Teacher

I just spent my entire day driving around Louisville and let me say - I'm pooped! As most everyone knows by now, Chud and I are moving to Louisville at the end of May and I've already signed an "early hire" contract with Jefferson County Public Schools. Well, I never thought that finding a teaching job would be this frustrating. I knew it would be hard work, but I didn't think it would seem next to impossible! JCPS is so backwards!! Here's how it works. Apparently, I'm in the big pool of teachers known as the "early hires." Each year, current teachers can put in for transfers to other schools. Principals cannot hire new teachers, or "early hires" until ALL of the transfers have been placed or at least interviewed. Then, when they're all settled, they start placing us. So far, so good, right? Wrong! Early hires have NO input into which school they will be placed. I'll be offered an interview anytime between June and August and if I don't accept that interview, I'm taken off the list!! Nevermind if it's at a school that's on the complete opposite side of town from were I'll be living, nevermind if it's a school in which I won't be a good match, nevermind if it's at a school in which I have no interest. If I don't take the interview, I may not have a job. Yipes!

Well, being the go-getter that I am, I couldn't just sit back and let some HR guy decide where I should interview. I sent out resumes and cover letters a few weeks ago, and today I went to visit the nine schools where I know I'd like to teach, so I could introduce myself to the principals and give them a little folder full of impressive goodies that make me look really "hire-able." What an eventful day it was.

I arrived at my first school at 9 AM and waited patiently for the principal to get finished with announcements. As I was waiting in the lobby, wearing my very professional khaki skirt and red shirt, I noticed that I was wearing the EXACT same outfit as the students - khaki pants or skirts and red shirts. Crap! I thought. This principal's going to think I'm a total dweeb! If she did, I didn't notice because we only spoke for a couple minutes, but she was nice and I felt good when I left there.

I didn't get to speak with the principal at the second school, St. Matthews, but I have to say, it was the cutest school I've ever set foot in. One whole hallway was painted with French store fronts and the other hallway was painted with Paris Subway stops! Hellooo!!! I was MADE for teaching at that school!

One principal told me he'd love to hire me, but I don't speak Spanish. Another secretary said, and I quote, "Honey, we've had people waiting 20, 25 years to transfer here. You can leave your folder with me but it won't do you any good." I crossed that school off my list. Besides, they had three fifth graders in that office standing in a corner as punishment. I do NOT want to work there.

One principal at a downtown school had me in his office for TWO HOURS and his conversational patterns compeltely eluded me. One minute he was telling me that my personality wouldn't fit with his school, the next minute he was looking through my folder, the next minute he was asking me to go with him while he observed a third grade teacher, and the next minute we were back in his office and he was giving me his card, telling me not to accept any positions until he had the chance to interview me. What the hell??

But, when all was said and done, at 4:00 in the afternoon, I started my journey home and realized that it really doesn't matter where I end up. I've been spoiled at Squires, but I know that I can teach anywhere. Hell, I HAVE taught anywhere, from Inner City to Spanish Immersion to British Boarding School to Suburban American, I've been in just about every possible scenario (knock on wood). I guess at this point, it's just a waiting game and that's what I hate. I don't care where I teach, just THAT I teach. I just want to know that I'm wanted somewhere.

So cross your fingers and say a prayer that I don't have to wait until the day before school starts. In fact, I really hope I hear from one of these schools, or any school in Louisville, for that matter, soon!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Funny F Word

I didn't go to work today because I had a doctor's appointment that I've been putting off forever. I did have to stop by after school for a meeting, so I went to my classroom to grab a couple of things and the substitute was there. She said she was about to write me a note, but since I was there, she'd just show me. "Alaa was busy writing this on the back of his notebook during science today." She handed me his notebook and I turned it over onto the back and there, in big, pencilly scribbles was the word F**K.  But the real word, not the one with stars in it.

I was shocked! Of all the kids in my class, I NEVER thought Alaa would write such a thing. He's a sweet, smiley, respectful young student! The poor kid sticks out like a sore thumb because not only is he Arabic, but he can't seem to hold his butt in a chair for longer than, I'd say, three and a half seconds. AND he is incapable of raising his hand without simultaneously shouting "Mrs. Fasciotto!!!" But I didn't think in a million years he'd be capable of such foul language. I showed Meredith what he did and she was just as shocked. I said, "Maybe he doesn't know what that word means!" And she reminded me that even if he doesn't, he still knows it's a BAD word and he should be in big trouble. So, begrudgingly, I called his parents.

His home phone did not work, so I called his dad's work phone. He answered and I explained everything to him, then he told me (with a very think Arabic accent) "I'm sorry, I don't understand much English. You call back and leave message, I show my wife tonight." So, I called back and left a message and I hope he did "show" his wife, because they need to have a little talk with Mr. Alaa.

I thought it was odd that Alaa's dad didn't speak English, and when I broght it up to my husband he told me a couple stories that made me feel a lot better about little Alaa's situation. Chud moved to the US when he was 8. He had to ride a separate bus to school when he was in the ESL program (English as a Second Language). He spent almost an hour every morning and afternoon staring at the back seats of that bus and guess what the first word he learned to spell was?? You got it - FUCK. He was pretty proud of himself too! Then, a couple years later, when he was in fourth grade (ahem, ahem), he saw a picture in a book of someone flipping the bird. Well, by this time he had figured out what that meant, so he shouted in a loud, French accent, "The book is fucking me! The book is fucking me!" His teacher was NOT happy.

Now, I know Alaa was raised in the United States, but he spends his summers in Jordan, and until today I did not realize that his Dad did not speak English! I've met his mother many times (I also taught his older brother) and she has a thick accent, but speaks English well enough. Alaa just always seemed like such a sweet and friendly young man, I'm beginning to wonder if maybe he just doesn't know what that word means? After all, I'm sure there are a couple of boys in my class who know perfectly well what that word means and they'd think it's hilarious to tell Alaa to write it all over his notebook. I really need to get to the bottom of this situation. Mr. Alaa and I are going to have a LOOOONG talk tomorrow!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wedding Regrets

When Chud and I got married, everything was perfect....almost. Considering the amount of money my parents and his parents spent on the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, and gifts, it was an amazing event. But now that I look back on it all, I realize there are a couple of minor changes I would have made. I say "a couple" because, in fact, there are only two. Out of our entire year-long planning process, our entire evening event, there are only two things I would have changed, and neither of them are important enough to be upset over.

First of all, we told our minister that our favorite bible verse was the one about "Love not in words, but in action and in truth." (1 John 3:28) During our marriage counseling, we tried to make it clear that this was the motto of our lives, the credence by which we live. I told Dr. Holdren that since it's such a small bible verse, we didn't want a whole reading out of it, we just wanted him to mention the importance of GIVING, not receiving, love and charity. He never did.

Second, I'm a big fan of Wendell Berry, a local Kentucky poet, farmer, and essayist. During our counseling, I gave Dr. Holdren a copy of my absolute favorite Wendell Berry poem, that I hoped he would have at least referenced during his sermon. He never did, and I never noticed until weeks after the wedding, when we watched the ceremony. So, since it was never brought up during our special event, I just wanted to record the signifigance of "The Wild Rose" in our lives today. Here's the poem:


Sometimes hidden from me
In daily custom and in trust,
So that I live by you unaware
As by the beating of my heart.

Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,

and once again I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.

I just think it's very important for any married couple to realize that no matter how "in love" you are at any moment, you always have a daily CHOICE. Every day I wake up and decide effortlessly that S. is the person I want to be with always. And I decide every day to make him happy in some small, little way. I hope that he wakes up every day chosing to be with me - to make me happy in some small way as well. Even though we were "meant to be together," there is still an element of free will - every day. I consider all of the people I've ever met, all the men I've ever dated, all of the fathers I've ever known. And every day I wake up and say, "Thank God I'm with him. He's the other half of my soul."

I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with him. I feel like we have so much to learn about each other, we have so much to teach each other, and we have so much to experience together that I couldn't imagine doing it all with anyone else. We both want the same thing out of life - to love and to share our love with the rest of the world.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Saying Goodbye

It's only March, and I know I have a lot of school year left. I also know that the end of this school year will be full of lots of exciting events (moving to Louisville, mainly). But I'm already dreading saying goodbye to 21 of the most amazing people I've ever met.

I was filling out report cards tonight and I turned on some music. I was listening to "Falling Slowly" when I started looking at my students' names, picturing their faces (instead of their grades and meaningless numbers), imagining them smile in my head. I started thinking about what they'll look like when they grow up...what kind of people they'll be and I almost cried. These kids are AWESOME. Some of them really have it rough, and some of them are completely set for life - but none of that matters. The only thing that matters is that they encounter positive and encouraging people until they become successful. I'm going to miss them SO MUCH.

This was a hard year for me because my class last year was unbeatable. They were the ones I thought I would always compare every other class against. But now I'm starting to think that something special happens between the snow days, report cards, and tests. Tonight was that "aha!" moment when I realized that this is my favorite class. I can't imagine teaching without these kids. I have some of the most unique combinations of personalities I've ever seen. I could write a book about Scottie...or Alaa...or Daija...or Caleb...or ANY of them.

All I want is for all of them to be genuinely happy. I've taught them how to multiply and how to describe the life cycle and how to take lots and lots and lots of tests...but I still have to teach them how to be happy. How do you teach that? How do you keep them smiling forever and ever? How do you keep them from ever being hurt or disappointed or stressed?

I can't wait to see them tomorrow, even thought they drive me crazy. I worry about instructional time and exit slips and novice scores and who needs the most help - when I should be treasuring this last quarter with the coolest people in the world. I love teaching, but I hate the end of the year. I don't want to trade out this class for a new one. I like this one. It's the best class I've ever had.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Don't Like this Lady...

My Math professor showed us this video in class Monday night and I wanted to show it to the folks at school, but I can't access youtube. I thought I'd embed it here and see if I can access it that way. Whether you're a teacher or not, you should watch it and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Exciting Summer Class!

Last week my professor brought a brochure to class about a Teacher Institute in New Mexico. I half-heartedly glanced over it, thinking "yeah right, like I can afford to go to New Mexico." The Institute is called "Understanding and Teaching Islam," it lasts for two weeks in July, and the participants stay in the Mosque-school complex built by a famous architect. It sounded awesome, but very unlikely. There were lots of roadblocks, the least of which was my advisor approving the program as an elective course that I could transfer.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I might be able to pull it off. After all, two weeks in July is perfect (and short)! So I emailed my advisor with all of the info and she responded today. She said, "The course sounds quite interesting and apropos for this day and age. I am usually a stickler for focusing your elective course work within your selected area of specialization; however,this topic is important to all content areas. Therefore, I would approve it for your program." Hooray!

Here's the icing on the cake - I would pay for the graduate credits through the New Mexico Highlands University. Ever heard of it? Me neither - must be why their classes are SO DARN CHEAP! The institute pays for books, materials, room and board, so all I have to pay is graduate credit and a plane ticket. In the end, as it turns out, it would be cheaper for me to fly to New Mexico for two weeks than it would be for me to stay here at UK and take a three or four week class! Can you believe that??

I'm so excited about this class! I get to travel somewhere and learn about something that I truly don't know enough about. Just for clarification (Mom) - I'm not going to a mosque to convert to Islam. I'm going to a school to study about Islam and to better understand it so I can service a wider variety of students. Y'alls know that multicultural education, diversity, culturally responsive teaching, etc. is right up my ally. It's like this program was made for me! I can't wait!

All I have to do now is get accepted to the darn thing. Wish me luck. If you want to check it out, here's the link.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Snowy Weekend

I'll take any snow day I can get, even if it IS on a Saturday! Sylvain and I went to Kroger Friday night to batten down the hatches for the big winter storm. We rented two movies and isolated ourselves for the night, even though the big snow didn't come until Saturday morning. On Saturday we took the movies back and rented two MORE, made some slow cooker stew and pretended to be "snowed in" with no way to get out. It was wonderful.

If you want to see pictures of the cutest snow bunny in the world, check out Meredith's blog. Those pics of Annabelle remind me of the pictures my Mom has of me and my brother playing in the snow when we were kids. It just doesn't snow like that anymore! I remember feet and feet of snow that stayed on the ground all winter long. Damn global warming - there better be some good snowfall when I finally get around to having kids!

It looks like this will the be last snow of the year (knock on wood) and we are totally ready for spring! I can't wait to open the windows and walk barefoot in the grass!!