Tag Archives: Stoller Middle School

My ridiculousness

31 Mar

Unknown

Like most mornings, I arrived at school early. I was so on top of things today! I got the papers organized for the quiz the kids would take. I took special care with the papers for the five new students I got in February. They would do a modified test. I marked the questions they didn’t have to do, put a name on each paper and set them in a safe place, where I could access them easily. I sat back down at my desk and started grading the mountain of final drafts I had somehow managed to neglect over Spring Break. I was humming with productivity!

When test time rolled around for the first class, I was a wreck, scrambling to find those papers I had so carefully prepared. Not on the front table. Not on my desk either. I was so sure I’d sent them on the table at the front of the room and yet, they were not there.

Suddenly Marvin’s voice piped up, “Ms. Gillespie, could it be the papers clipped to the front board?” Ah, he knows me well. I nodded and smiled as the class erupted in laughter.

At the end of the day, I was excited because I got an email saying my Powell’s order was ready. It is a perk of living in Portland that Powell’s gives us a 20% discount for anything we buy for school. We just have to pick it up. No problem, the store is only 10 minutes from school and more or less on my way home. I knew we had a big order and I worried about carrying multiple bags out to the car so I planned ahead. I had some boxes I’d saved from a Scholastic book fair and grabbed two, knowing I had a foldable luggage cart in the trunk of my car to carry everything. I was ready.

I walked towards the stairs that lead from my second floor classroom to the main entrance swinging the boxes. It was sunny and I was bound for Powell’s; life was good! I nodded and smiled at the substitute who arrived at the stairs just before me. She was about half way down when she turned and asked if I needed help with the boxes. She’d noticed I had my left arm over the rail, wrist resting there, holding a box.

“Thanks, but they’re empty,” I replied to her kind offer.

“I thought so because I saw you swinging them,” she said. “But you are supporting that one so I thought I might be wrong.”

I blushed and confessed that, because it was sunny, I had packed my coat in my bag. Now, I am a woman of a certain age and I always go down the steep steps, holding the hand rail, but, I don’t actually like to touch it for fear of germs. I usually pull my jacket sleeve over my hand to hold on, but, without a jacket, this was my next best plan to avoid the germ handrail. She laughed, agreeing that she, too likes to hold the handrail on the way down, but had never thought about the germs before. We exited the building together smiling at the sunshine that met us.

When I finally arrived at Powell’s, I loaded the empty boxes on the cart and, since no one was at the School & Library desk, I went to the main counter for help. I told the kind woman there how prepared I was as she walked me over. She  looked on the shelves but couldn’t see anything for Stoller Middle School. And then we both saw it. The large hand truck stacked to the top with 4 huge boxes. Our eyes met and we laughed.

“Let me run my cart to my car and I’ll be back to take this one,” I offered.

“I can’t leave the counter area, but I can wheel it to the door for you,” she replied, smiling.

I was back in a flash and managed to get the very heavy hand truck to my car, load the boxes in the trunk and return the cart. The gentleman at the info desk told me I could just leave the cart with him. I waved at the woman at the counter and went out to my car, ready for a delightful drive home on a sunny March afternoon.

Divided loyalties

6 Mar

Unknown-1

My heart longed to be in two places.

Saturday was our regional meet for Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB). I’d been bringing teams for years, but I am at a new school, Stoller Middle School, coaching a new team.

Last year’s team was my heart team.There is a term in the basset world, a heart dog, that refers to a dog who is your canine soulmate. Last years Bookmarks team was my heart team.

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Only three members were back, but I’d known these girls since kindergarten. I was their OBOB coach for two years and their teacher for one. I just knew them better than the 7th graders I brought, who I’d only known for a few months and do not teach. I’d been in touch with some people and knew the Bookmarks would be at the regional meet too. Fortunately, this year they had staggered starts and I was able to attend the Bookmarks’ first battle (they won handily!) before my middle schoolers were due to arrive.

While chaperoning my real team, I was in touch with a mom by text and followed their progress. I squealed when I learned they were one of the top 16 teams, the Sweet Sixteen, who would go on to the next round.  Damn, I’d miss this one.

Interestingly, although we lost our first two battles, Stoller’s point total was enough to get into the middle school Sweet Sixteen competition.  Then, I learned the Bookmarks had won and made it into the Elite eight. Damn. I wouldn’t be able to see this battle either.

And then something clicked with my middle schoolers. They kept winning! We were in the Elite Eight, too! Double Damn and Hooray at the same time. I wanted to watch both teams.

The Bookmarks went to the Final Four. So did my middle schoolers. And that is where our paths departed. We lost our battle, but the Bookmarks did not. They ended up in 2nd place and will go on to the State OBOB meet.

There was a point when I was worried I would have to go to the State meet with divided loyalties. I am sad my team, who had worked so hard and did so well today, don’t get to go on. I will make sure we celebrate their hard work when we get back to school on Monday.

But on April 9th, I will go to the State OBOB meet and be 100% in the Bookmarks’ corner.

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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