Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Beautiful Day

Thursday was a beautiful day.

I know that because the new chancellor of schools told us so.

On the other side of the Resource Room a group of teachers gathered to watch the the news conference where she and the mayor defended their decision  to open schools. I was on the business end of the Resource Room.  Nina had a ten page paper to write and snow or no snow we had no time to waste, (but more about that later).

I spent a restless night, checking my phone for  the school closed text that never came. By 6:30 am I was on to the bus, where the bus driver explained how hard it used to be to drive the route on snowy days, and how his first wife didn't even care about how stressed he was when he got home.  The new buses, had more gears, and chains on the wheels and we made it straight up the icy hill in record time, since there was no one waiting on the bus stops to delay our progress.

The new chancellor and new mayor who have been in office for exactly 6 weeks and who  had to make their fourth decision on calling a snow day,  explained why they opted to open school.  The transportation was running, Macy's was open, and at the exact moment the news conference was being held it had stopped snowing.  Which in the chancellor's opinion, qualified for a beautiful day.

Al Roker, our local weatherman, turned national weather man, was half a world a way in Sochi covering the winter Olympics.  Apparently, his daughter, who attends the high school of Fame, (the movie) fame- which is an authentic, if not typical New York City high school, was not.   In Sochi the weather was 66 degrees, Katerina Witt, was reporting in a bathing suit from the beach because in fact, there it was a beautiful day.  Those of us, like Al Roker's daughter who were  stuck back in New York City were wearing far more clothing and Al was mad that schools were open.

Al Roker criticized the mayor, the mayor criticized Al Roker, it snowed some more over night.  And Friday the schools were open again.

But this is a story about Nina and her ten page paper.  Which was why I had to go to the other side of the Resource Room and tell them to keep it down- some of us were working.

Nina failed social studies last semester.  I had become increasingly concerned that Nina was depressed as the semester wore on.  Her usually ebullient attitude had soured and she refused more often than not, to let me help her do anything.  I called the appropriate offices, I called her aunt, I tried to talk with her and nothing seemed to help. She failed  gym and social studies and  the college counselor refused to take her application to the community college.

With the new term underway, she began to wake up.  I helped her get some assignments typed, and met with her aunt for the annual conference.  And she began to perk up a bit.

 Why, she wanted to know, did everyone ask her if she was okay? Nina asked me during the conference.

"Maybe," cause you don't act okay.
"After my mother died, people always asked me if I was okay," she continued.  "why would they ask me that, I held my mother's hand when she died and promised I would be okay."

I would have spent the next period, crying but the assistant principal kept calling and telling me to get the paper finished, faxed and filed.  I dried my eyes and brought it up to the assistant principal.

I told her the story, as I handed it in, like Nina, I felt a bit better after talking about it, I left the assistant principal's office as she reached for the tissues.

Nina negotiated with the social studies teacher.  He assigned a ten page paper on how some groups have been traditionally denied their right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,"   and the movements, and laws that were the results of such discrimination. Nina had one week to research it and write it.   Nina reads and writes with speed and accuracy of dyslexic who has not caught a lot of breaks in life.  While the rest of the school played staff- student basketball games, watched new conferences and generally complained about being in school on what should have been a snow day Nina and I slogged through the paper.

We had nine pages done at the end of the day.  And together we finished the bag of chocolate I had brought in for Valentine's Day.  The assistant principal offered me a ride home, but I was busy talking to the guidance counselor about why he thought I should develop a strategy to have Nina learn how to write the paper on her own, without my help,  so I missed my ride.

I took the bus home.  Strangely enough, same bus driver as the morning ride picked me up.  Another uneventful ride, this time even easier since it was downhill, and now raining instead of snowing.  His second wife worries about him, he assured me, he called her at the end of every run.

That's the moral of the story, isn't it?
Bus driving, paper writing and navigating life is much easier when someone worries about you.
Even on a snowy day.

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