All posts tagged At-Risk

What side is this?

Published August 2, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

About a million years ago, back when I was in the middle of my other career, I attended Graduate school for a M.A. in Performing Arts. (I was still young and had hope.)

I wrote a paper in support of my proposal for my final project.  I could not get my graduate committee (The three faculty members who were like some kind of three headed hydra.) to tell me what format my paper needed to take, so I just free formed it.

The paper was subsequently rejected and I was directed to a variety of academic papers written to support modern dance projects. (I, too, was surprised that such a thing existed.) I read the papers and noticed that they were written in the traditional MLA format.

I rewrote  the paper using the format and was commended on the amount of scholarship I had demonstrated.  I wanted to snort with the laughter and direct the Hydra to my undergraduate transcript which stated I was a McFadden Scholar.  I have no idea why people are so shocked and amazed to find out that I do have a fine mind nestled snugly under the crazy.

Anyway, they accepted the paper and approved the project.  After I put  200 plus hours into the project, including written and photographic documentation, the Hydra said they were not going to approve my project because, “We don’t do that here.” They didn’t want to align their Drama department with a public service theatre project that brought together Developmentally Disabled adults and At-Risk youth. Both groups met weekly to design puppets and develop a script that was then performed for school age children throughout the city.

I can’t expect a State University to get behind that. I don’t know how I could be so foolish.

I told them I needed some time to regroup, so after a full blown tantrum conducted at a high speed ride home and face down on the floor at home. I debated and discussed with everyone and finally asked the universe for a sign. (At this point I only lacked a final project to win the race and get my MA) In the meantime, I still had grants to write for my ongoing programs.

One of my friends from the ARC, the organization that worked with my kids in the hood, was a McDonald’s employee. At the time there was a supply grant available through the company, but you needed an employee’s endorsement. I helped my friend, Michael, write the letter and I asked him what he wanted to use for his closing signature. I explained that when I finished an official letter, I signed it, OutReach Director.  I asked him what title he wanted.

He said, “Your Friend.”

It took me a moment to recover and process and when I did, it became clear that this was my sign.  I didn’t want to be on the side of a group of people who would deny credit for hard work because it didn’t jibe with their perception of art.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because I recently had a similar crisis of conscience when dealing with the problems at my previous job.  I did what I knew was right.

Because when it’s all over, and our current world/political situation indicates it will be soon, I know where I will stand.

Because I’m Michael’s friend.


Oh, Die, Chotomy!

Published June 8, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I’m wending my way through the online course portion of my Alternative Teaching Certification. I AM getting a lot out of it and I am not nearly as stabby as I thought I would be. Note how I said, “Nearly.”

I was very excited and eager after doing the course on technology. There are amazing things happening that will ultimately help our children learn in forum that they understand. Teachers will be able to maximize their time in the classroom to better serve the educational process overall.  (I know! Imagine the possibilities.)

The key to this seems to be the Flipped Classroom.

Take a minute to check it out; It’s pretty damn cool

I would wax poetic about it, but then I wouldn’t be able to continue my rant. You can see the bind I’m in.

The next course was on different populations. That means the ESL, the Learning Disabled, ELL, At-Risk, Gifted and Talented, and a whole other alphabet soup of labels.

Essentially the courses went from What Cool Things You Can Have to What You Are Probably Going to Get.

I know that education is a privilege. I know that a lot of the time you have to create an environment that  provides an oasis where learning can happen, because many students are hungry and anxious, and not just in a “Well, that’s Middle School for you.” way.

I am the last person you have to tell that life often isn’t right almost always isn’t fair.

If you really want to angry up your ownself, Check out anything by Jonathon Kozol. Or if you are an HBO documentary fan, The Motel Kids of Orange County Or Google “Food Insecurity in Children.  In my course overview I was startled but not shocked to hear the statistics on students who are homeless.  So yes, the flipped classroom seems to be away to reach this generation of students and get them excited about learning, but what are the chances that technology can be provided to everyone when we can’t get food and shelter for most of our kids?

I live in the area of one of the largest school districts in the state. In my course work I was able to work in a variety of schools throughout the city.  I am sad to say that there were only three schools where the students seemed to have any hope and enthusiasm about learning. (One school was filled with potential but limited resources. The teachers were beginning to lose their zest at mid-year.)

The superintendent of this district resigned suddenly.

No one in the entire city gave a heartfelt, “Oh, No!”

This makes me shudder, not because   the job is vacant, but because if we can’t keep someone with a near six figure income to stay interested in our public schools, how can we expect the poor, the at-risk, the homeless, the hungry and all of the other Alphabets in the soup to hang in there?

It’s a puzzler. I need to think on that.