These are a few pictures of my new room. If you look really closely, you can see the bust of Homer.
All of my favorite authors, along with in-class notes from today:
The view from my desk window:
This was my first week at St. Peter’s. For any of you that have talked to me, you already know. I think that I may have found my dream job.
Sure, there are some trade-offs, like the fact that the school is 30 minutes from our new apartment (although I carpool with my boss so I don’t actually use very much gas), and the fact that I don’t get to order EVERY single book I want because the school is on a limited budget. Lately the copy machine has also been on the fritz.
But the benefits far outweigh anything bad or annoying. Take, for example, the fact that it is an Orthodox Christian school. Now, this doesn’t mean that all the teachers or students are Orthodox Christians- it’s about fifty-fifty, although everyone must be respectful of Orthodox practices. But every morning we have chapel for 30 minutes where we basically pray and sing the Psalms. Already I’ve found that this brightens my day and calms me spiritually.
The attitude of the kids is amazing as well. It seemed so novel that a few days ago, I attempted to explain it to Courtney. Instead of waiting for something to peak their interest, they assume that whatever is going to be said is pertinent and valuable information. At one point during one of our discussions, my junior highers were already pulling out their notebooks to take notes- before I’d even told them to.
The level of respect for teachers is also very high without being “despotic”. One of my 11th grade girls came into my class yesterday to ask if she could bring a drinkable yogurt into my classroom. Because of my “Flexing Poplars” experiences, I was immediately very suspicious. I answered coldly, “What does Mr. Smith (the principal) have to say about that?” I expected the answer would be evasive, but instead she looked me right in the eye and answered calmly, “Mr. Smith said that it was fine, but I wanted to check with you since I know this is your classroom.” My jaw just about hit the floor!
This level of respect is also made evident in that the children, no matter how young, must maintain eye contact with whoever is speaking to them. They also are not allowed to sit down when entering a classroom until the teacher requests it, and they must stand up if any other adult enters the room during class. It makes all of us teachers think twice before interrupting other classes, even for important things!
The parents are also equally as appreciative and respectful. Today we feasted on a 3 course lunch of grilled chicken salad, tropical fruit kabobs, bread hot from the oven and chocolate and zucchini cake, homemade by one of the parents and served “waitress style” by two of the students.
Then there’s the faculty. So far, I love each and every one of the teachers that I get to work with. Whenever we have good discussions in class, we talk about them over lunch, suggesting additional books and materials. Sometimes Fr. Jared (ex-Episcopal priest, now Orthodox catechumen) will even start conversations about Charles Williams or the apostolic fathers. All of the teachers are quite knowledgeable, not only in their field but in others as well. Even the elementary teachers spent their summer reading up on ways that they could improve their teaching styles.
Everyone is also more than happy to help out and fill in when needed. My boss, Brian Smith, always goes out of his way to make sure that things are running smoothly, and Annie the secretary can do pretty much anything she’s asked, still smiling cheerfully all the way. I’ve heard others say that this is the best faculty they’ve ever had the privilege of working with, and I don’t doubt it.
Add onto this the academic side of things. The kids are expecting homework, and haven’t complained yet, even when I assigned them 30 pages of reading on the first day of school. They learn Latin and Greek from Kindergarten on up, memorize so many Psalms that they will have the entire Psalter memorized by their senior year, and read all of the Great Books of Western Civilization. Personally, I get to teach an Ancient Lit class (Homer through Augustine), a Medieval/Renaissance Class (Beowulf through Shakespeare) and an American Lit class. I also get to teach a music elective and many many piano lessons.
Speaking of piano lessons….here is one of the students that I just started teaching. You would not believe this but…..he’s never had lessons of any kind before. In any instrument. The only music instruction he’s ever had is that he once “read a book” about music. There are times when I feel like I should be very afraid, as though I’m in the present of another Mozart.
See, because the thing is, he doesn’t know a single note to go along with what he’s playing. He made it all up. In fact, it’s so improvisational, he can never play it the same way twice.
Tell me this isn’t incredible.
So there you have it. My dream job. Hopefully you all can come and visit sometime!