Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Teacher Runs Out Of Gas!

My younger daughter had a teacher called Ms. Stavola, in elementary school. She taught in different classes throughout the day. One day my daughter heard a story at school, from another classmate, who also has this teacher. When we sat down to eat dinner that night, my daughter suddenly bursts out in uncontrollable laughter. We ask her what is so funny. The more we ask, the harder she is laughing, and she can’t even eat or talk. The tears are streaming down her red face. Dinner is at a standstill while we wait for her to compose herself long enough to tell us the story. I can always use a good laugh!

Finally, between continuous bursts of laughter, she begins to tell us that she heard a story about Ms. Stavola from her friend. During her friend’s lesson that day, Ms. Stavola let out a huge fart. Becoming embarrassed by the class’s laughter, the teacher ran out of the room crying. But, as my daughter’s friend told the story, she made a gesture with her hand that my daughter replicated at dinner. When she gets to the part about the “fart” she puts out her pointer finger, making a spiraling motion in the air and saying, “it went like this.” That is when we all fell on the floor laughing. “What do you mean it went like this?” I asked, how can you see a fart?” My daughter, still laughing, says, “I don’t know, that’s what my friend did” and she repeated the spiraling motion with her finger through the air. It’s been about ten years since that story was told, but it still makes me laugh out loud today. But that’s not the only time this teacher ran out of gas, so to speak.

One day Ms. Stavola assigned a state to all the students in my daughters class. They were to prepare a report on various things about the state including things like the flag, motto, population, etc. My daughter got West Virginia. Wes Virginia is a lovely state and certainly not the worst state, but it’s not a very exciting state. I told my daughter to write to the WV Department of Tourism and get some brochures to include in her report. She had plenty of time. I got her a small looseleaf binder for her project and she wrote her report, illustrating it with maps, the flag, pictures of the state, letter from the governor etc.

The day the report was due, Ms. Stavola called them all up to her desk, row my row, to look at their reports. As she was doing that she was commenting on the quality of their reports, some were great, some good, some poorly done. Then she gets to my daughter and looks at what she has done. She starts praising my daughter, saying how her report is excellent and all the others stinks. “This is how to do a report!” You can imagine my shy daughter wanting to crawl into a hole. And, to make matters worse, she sends my daughter to other classes and tells her she is to show all the students what a report is supposed to look like!  My daughter gets out of school and never says a word to me about all this. However, when I get home, my phone is ringing off the hook. It’s parents of the other students, they are asking me if my daughter is ok. I said yes, why? They told me what had happened because they children had told them and they were mad at my daughter (who probably didn’t know that). The parents all told their kids not to be mad at my daughter it wasn’t her fault. And thankfully, the incident died there.

Later in the school year, Ms. Stavola gave a test and my daughter got an 88. However, two questions were identical and she got them both wrong, which I was willing to ignore, until the report cards came out. On my daughter’s report card was an 85 for the quarter. I said “Oh no, you deserve more than this.” My daughter was willing to leave well enough alone, but I wasn’t. Open school day rolled around soon after and I went up to see the teachers, as always. I made a point o go see Ms. Stavola, who told me what a wonderful student my daughter was and I agreed. I told her, however, that I did not agree with her grade for the quarter. She looked in her grade book and showed me her grades. I said that all well and good, but she deserves a higher grade. For one thing she wrote a report on West Virginia that was excellent enough for you to send her to all your other classes to show the other students. Then I take out the test and she immediately says well, she got an 88.  I say yes, that’s what it says, but two of your questions are exactly the same, so if she got one wrong she was going to get the other wrong. If we adjust the grade by eliminating that duplicate question, she would be getting a 92. She sat there stunned. She took the test and said she would correct my daughter’s grade. She had run out of gas again.

I had to wait until the next report card to see that the change to the grade was made. It was a small thing in the scheme of it all, but I wanted my daughter to get what she deserved.  That’s why I was a stay at home mom. I wanted to keep a close eye on what was going on at school and tried to make sure that my kids worked to their full potential. If there was a problem or issue, I made myself informed and stepped in when necessary. It’s all in a day’s work!

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