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News and Events

by David Ralph










I’m sunk into my couch


The only noise I can hear

Is the slow methodical sound of my



The same faucet that I had intended

To fix

From the moment I moved in

But then came:

            Curriculum Writing

                        Lesson plans

                                    Staff orientation

                                                Staff meetings



Tonight I lay still

Unable to even twitch a muscle as the


Combination of oxygen mixed with hydrogen


To the bottom of a dirty bowl

Once containing a single portion of Uncle Ben’s Instant Rice

Instant Rice

The only source of nutrition I had


To make yesterday

But it was not my only source of substance.

I teach

Teaching is my substance

This is what I believe I was made for;

No matter how many days, like today, may occur, which

Make me Question

I can still find substance;

The answer

Like today, when a student meanders up to my lovely

Disorganized yet organized desk,

After half an hour of poignant lecture, which

Discussed the easy subject of

how to correctly organize a speech,

And asks me,

“Mr. Ralph, when you say we need to create a body for our speech;”

as he makes the motion of an hour glass with his hands,

“I was wondering if I could make mine look like Pamela Lee?”

At first I used my highly perfected teacher stare,

To let him know that I was



Then I looked at the pen I held in my hand,

Then back to the kid,

Then back to my pen,

The kid,

My pen,

All the while thinking how many seconds it would take

To make

My favorite pen

jam into this kid’s throat in order

To perform an emergency tracheotomy;

Permanently preventing him from every pronouncing such preposterous ideas again;

(For the first time No Child Left Behind started to actually make sense),

But then it hit me:

Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between the Smartass who has a question

that comes across as

“I don’t care”


The ass,

Who never



The difficulty comes in the way of a definition;

How does one define this student?

Is he an ass with apathy

or a SMART ass that just needs a further explanation?

Good teachers know

that definitions are


Etched in stone

never to be altered.

Students like


Can be changed over time

It’s all in the matter of how you want to perceive it.



I’ve seen this before;

I myself was once that kid.

The one that was smart enough to sit in the back of the room,

because I knew

I stank;

I didn’t participate in class discussion

Because I knew my breath would offend someone.

We could only run water twice a week at home, and

We were too poor to visit a dentist.

I shut my mouth

Despite what I knew to be

My teacher’s perception of me:

“Kid doesn’t take care of himself; obviously doesn’t care”        

I was once the kid

That didn’t take notes

Not because I didn’t want to

But because I couldn’t read the board,

We couldn’t afford glasses

“Obviously doesn’t care”

I was once the kid

With the witty retort

Always prepared so that I could waste time

In order for my brain to catch up

You see

Instead of simply asking “why?”

Which I thought would make me look like a didn’t know;


I found a way to distract

By being voted class clown four years in a row;



Here is where teaching gets hard;

Was my student’s reference to Pamela Lee simply stupid?

Or was it wonderfully intelligent?

Having been a student that was lost

A student perceived as one that “doesn’t care”

I decided to guess towards


As making the error the other way

Could have a never ending destroying affect

After all where would I be if


Teacher didn’t step up and show me how to change?


That ability to make or break a student

Is a fine line that must always,


fall on the side of



I stand up

Time to re-explain

After all, we all have faults

sometimes I’m not the most crystal clear

when it comes to organizing individual letters into a sequential syntax in order to be cognitively and categorically comprehended by the adolescent mind;

Even for a speech teacher.