Yesterday was lunch with the ladies I used to work with at Dawson Elementary School - go Dawson!
It also happened to be a certain someone's birthday. That will become evident shortly.
First a word about working at this particular school. I started my full time interpreting gig in Saugatuck and was at the middle school/high school for six years. I loved every single moment there. The staff was exceptional, or so I thought. We partied and worked together no matter your particular job. I never once felt a separation because I was "support staff" and not teaching staff - not one single time.
When the program moved to Holland, there was an opening in Allegan's program at the same time and I nabbed it. I just knew it would never be the same as my experience in Saugatuck. There was no way I was going to have the same level of acceptance. And I was placed in an elementary school. I'd never worked with that particular age group before and I was expecting to hear the "sing-song elementary voice" coming from every teacher. They'd be putting cut out poster board animals, etc. on their bulletin boards and those jelly-like sticky things on the windows. Oh, crap, how was I going to survive this?????????????
Boy was I wrong. I spent several wonderful years with the sharpest women I know. Politically savvy, tuned into what was happening in the world and fierce in their belief that the kids in their rooms would get the best they had to offer. And offer they did!
Again, the same as Saugatuck, I never felt the support staff/teacher thing. Oh, yeah, I never heard that sing/song voice either. Yes, there were things made out of paper on their bulletin boards and those squishy things on the windows but, hey, what did you expect? It's an elementary school. Duh.
That's Anne on the left; more about her later. Marianne (hope I spelled that correctly) is next to her. She was a teaching assistant in the special ed. room; the kids loved her. Joann is next. Fifth grade, right? Poor thing had my son in her room for two years I think. Not because he couldn't make the grade; she was teaching a split back then. On the far right is Edie. The consummate kindergarten teacher. I have a ton of stories to tell you about Edie but she probably wouldn't appreciate them, right Edster?
Donna on the left. She wasn't a teacher or a teaching assistant or a cook or a bottle washer. Her husband, Tom, however was a wonderful teacher and since he didn't feel like hanging with a bunch of ladies (I still don't understand that), he sent Donna as his pinch hitter. We're all very glad he did too.
Marilyn on the right. I spent a lot of time in Marilyn's room and let me tell you, she ran a tight ship but was fair to the bone. The kids always knew what to expect.
This is Marne. When I came to Allegan Marne was the teacher for the deaf kids. She was amazing. Tough, never babied the kids. Expected a lot and got a lot. I loved working with her. One thing about Marne though, I feel like I need to warn you about - don't ever ask her to do her Dorothy impersonation. You know, from the Wizard of Oz. And she runs like a girl - on her tip toes. Hard to watch.
Becky on the left. I spent some time, not much, in Becky's room. Those kids were luckier than they realized to have her for a teacher. She gave it her all - all the time. Joyce, the hostess, is with her. My biggest disappointment in the time I was at Dawson was that I didn't get any "Joyce time." I loved every other minute I had with her, though. Mostly lunch time.
Marne and me - mutual admiration.
We talked a lot. I think these three did the most, though. Just kidding. Not really.
And then - we ate. Yummy salads.
Guess whose birthday?
Guess how old she was? She also hates the color pink (what the hell is wrong with her anyway?) so everything she got was pink. So there, Anne!
These are great ladies, wonderful people. Thanks for inviting me!