Archive for the ‘Boston Public Schools’ Tag

Massachusetts-based Pizza Chain Papa Gino’s Files for Chaper 11 Bankruptcy   Leave a comment

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The news broke a short time ago and a day after the chain’s parent company suddenly closed 53 of their then 150 locations Sunday with no warning to customers or the public. Employees of the effected stores, who were notified they were fired effective immediately at the same time have apparently been promised a final paycheck “soon”. Papa Gino’s Inc., which is the parent company of both Papa Ginos and D’Angelos filed for bankruptcy this morning. All assets, locations and shares for both chains will be sold. It’s not yet clear if any of the remaining 97 Papa Gino’s stores will close or if they will be allowed to run independently.

Papa Gino’s has been a local favorite for decades. I have alot of good memories personally. My favorite Pizza is the Rustic style:

Image result for papa gino's rustic pizza

They add parmesan cheese to the crust, making it flavorful. A shame the chain has filed for bankruptcy. I will have to buy this one more time before they are gone forever.

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My departure from BPS is now official   Leave a comment

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It was October 10, 2005. I didn’t know it at the time but I had begun my first day of the 10 years I would spend working as a Paraprofessional for the Boston Public Schools. As of September 8, 2016 I will officially no longer be employed by BPS. As much as I know some people might want me to talk about specific moments from my years in the trenches that really sucked and as much as I do want to do that, now is not the time. I am well aware tomorrow is also the first day of school in Boston. Out of respect for my friends and former colleagues who will begin their first day of the new school year, I will not do that.

…I WILL talk about my experiences in a book I announced I would be writing about education two years ago. Now that I am no longer working for BPS, I am free to cover a few topics I would have otherwise had to hold back on. Not just about BPS or my own experiences with the district but public education in general. Given the unique opportunity that I had, it’s only fitting I share my story. Not as a cautionary tale but of what’s possible. More info on that book will be shared on my Fiction Press blog along with my other literary works.

…That will be at a time a little further in the future, however.

I plan to spend the next year and a half focusing on a few pet projects of mine. Even though I wasn’t working at all in 2016, I didn’t update any of my blogs as much as I would have liked. There’s that and a few things related to some of my blogs stopped because I’ve been broke since March 7. Hard to write reviews for video games and anime you don’t have the money to buy and no, I don’t pirate my video games or anime. At least with Manga I could order volumes through the Boston Public Library ^_^

Honestly, I’m relieved. For the first time since my time in City Year, I feel like I’m in control of my own time. Learning a fixed schedule was great for me and helped me better organize my day. I am certainly feeling alot of emotions which I will not share on this blog. I originally planned to announce this as a video but now I’m glad I didn’t. It’s a big moment in my life but thinking about it, a video wouldn’t have felt right.

I hope you will continue to follow this blog as well as my other six. I’m probably going to collect unemployment for the rest of 2016 which means I’ll be able to set things up for 2017. I have a more permanent source of income coming lined up but I will wait a little longer before I go that route. At least with unemployment, I will be able to cover alot of expenses I was unable to for much of the year.

Eight Days into the new School Year and already close to burnout   Leave a comment

…I consider myself fortunate I communicated to several colleagues my professional aspirations are outside education. As the saying goes, with age comes wisdom. As I said at the beginning of the summer, my return to the classroom was reluctant and a last-minut decision. I never said why until now. The feeling I’m now having is what I wanted to avoid in the first place. I shouldn’t have come back to working in a classroom so soon given how the previous school year ended for me. I should have taken this school year off at the very least.

I actually had one other option but the red tape involved wasn’t something I was willing to accept. No, it wasn’t City Year though now that I think of it, I did say to several folks 10 years ago that I would return in ten years. Unfortunately for me, I don’t meet the qualifications for any of the current open positions. This other final option I won’t name…let’s just say I would use it only in the event I was no longer able to work due to illness. As it happens, a new heart condition I learned about over the summer would be a sufficient precondition for this other final option.

The last time I used it, ironically I was burned out after barely finishing high school and doing data entry for six weeks in 2002. Alot of the things that went on with me from November 2002 to July 2003…well, let’s just say I was very close to doing something reckless before I started the application process with City Year in August 2003.

Getting back to my main point, I’m glad I was up front with my new school about my time there being only for this school year. I had no long-term plans when I applied for the position so…yeah. Unlike 10 years ago when I first started working as a Paraprofessional, I have the advantage of knowing what to expect this time. That said, I will approach this year the same as last year and see how far I can go. The problems I ran into last year aren’t present this year so for me, it’s simply a question of endurance. I’d be lying to myself if I know for sure I’ll make it to June despite what I told someone last week. It’s just a question of endurance and being honest, the fact that I have doubts this early on is a clear sign I shouldn’t have come back so soon.

It’s not a matter of if I can do the work or not. If I didn’t think I couldn’t do it at all, I wouldn’t have reapplied four weeks ago. My problem is I knew I didn’t want to come back and that’s why I feel the way I do now. If I had to put it in words, right now I’m just going through the motions at work. My thinking is do what’s expected of me at work until I find an opportunity to move on.

The silver lining is I got what I needed this past week. I know I can do the job where it counts the most: Support students in the classroom. Class transitions outside the classroom is still an area of concern for me and it’s what I will focus on for the rest of the month. I can’t afford to be identified as “unreliable” in this regard especially at the beginnning of the school year so…yeah. It’s not every day you get to do something for the first time three times in a row!

Anywho, I won’t talk about my employment status again unless there is a significant change. I am mindful some of my former colleagues do read my blog. This is why I am purposeful and intentional with the way I craft posts of this nature. I try to leave no room for speculation while at the same time I avoid intentionally saying things that would be detrimental to me professionally. That said, I have no problem owning up to the things I say on my blogs if asked.

 

The latest Viral Dance Craze has divided the Internet   Leave a comment

I’m of course referring to The Nae Nae:

This one totally went over my head when I first heard about it in February. In fact, I had to ask my Facebook contacts about it the other day. Buzzfeed compiled everything you might wanna know here.

Then NECN featured this local principal doing the Nae Nae on the first day of school:

That said, I just emailed the principal of the Holmes School (where I will be working this school year) and asked her if she would be interested in doing it on Tuesday. If she agrees, I will post the video. Even if she declines, I plan to do it myself.

Getting back to the main topic, the song has divided the internet. On one side, you have those who love the song for the dance. On the other side, you have those who hate the song’s repetativeness, simplicity and lack of any substance despite being categorized as “Hip Hop”. That said, it definitely ISN’T music and was never meant to be “enjoyed” alone: All the song does is tell you what to do and nothing more. I rarely say this publicly but those who hate the song are haters or jealous haters who are just mad they never thought of comingup with the cash grab first. LOL.

Speaking of interactive songs, there was another song that came out about 15 years back that is still considered today one of, if not the greatest dance song ever thought of:

Yep, DJ Casper’s Cha Cha Slide. This song’s selling point, like Watch Me Whip/Nae Nae is literally nothing but telling you what to do yet it hasn’t received any of the hate the newer song has. Makes no sense if you ask me.

At present, Watch Me Whip/Nae Nae has clocked in nearly 196 Million hites on You Tube. If you think that’s alot, keep in mind the You Tube King Gangnam Style by Psy hasĀ 2,406,842,219 hits (and still counting!), a feat highly unlikely to be topped anytime soon. The question to ask is “Is this You Tube video something I will want to watch every day several times a day?” When you keep that in mind, the answer is obvious =D

Speaking of my Salary…   Leave a comment

https://i1.wp.com/www.bostonpublicschools.org/cms/lib07/MA01906464/Centricity/ModuleInstance/3054/large/holmes%2016.jpg

The Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary School (K0-Grade 5)

This week, I will be returning to the school where I began my career as an Educator back in 2006 exactly 10 years ago. I moved twice during my first year at the Holmes within the first five months of the school year. I worked there as a Paraprofessional for six years before budget cuts resulted in me moving on to two other schools after the 2010-11 school year. Now I will be returning to my first school community once again as a full-time staff member.

The Holmes School is in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. The last time I worked at the Holmes school, I lived in Roxbury between two bus routes that got me close (22 and 23) but I could walk straight there if I wanted to. Now I live in Hyde Park next to Dedham. To get to the Holmes, I’ll walk from my house to the Fairmount Commuter Rail Station, which is a short walk from Cleary Square on River Street. I’d then take the train two stops Inbound (to South Station) to the Talbot Ave. station, which was under construction during my first tenure at the Holmes. From there, it’s a short 5-minute walk to the school.

I’m intentionally not giving away exact locations since I don’t want to give away too much about how I travel to and from work. Plan B would also likely be a one-way trip going Inbound: I usually do my mid-week shopping after work so…yeah. Massive detour to Downtown Crossing and/or Back Bay! The tradeoff with that is I could just hop on the Orange Line to Forest Hills from either travel hub and take a taxi (usually do if I’m out past 8:00PM) or the 32 to get home.

Getting back to the main topic, the Holmes School uses an inclusion model and it’s where I learned what an inclusive classroom is supposed to look and feel like. The difference between the Holmes and Mission Hill is one is K0 to Grade 5 and the other is K0 to Grade 8. The Holmes actually also has more classrooms than Mission Hill despite having less grades: Before I left the Holmes, the school had 6 kindergarten classrooms: One K0 and 5 K1-K2 classroom. The school has three classrooms for grades 1 to 5, totalling 21 classrooms total (5 x 3 = 15 + 6 = 21). The Holmes also does not have multi-grade classrooms, which Mission Hill does. The benefit to two-grade classrooms is students will have the same teacher for two years. This is why Mission Hill has less classrooms than the Holmes in comparison despite going to Grade 8: One K0-K2, 3 K1-K2, 3 Grade 1/2 and Grade 3/4 and two Grade 5/6 and two Grade 7/8 Classrooms, totalling 14 classrooms. That’s a 7-classroom difference. Having worked in both schools for several years, I can make that comparison.

The one thing I want to stress is for the return to the Holmes, I’m alot more experienced than I was 10 years ago. I’m a lot less naive for one. I’m also much more focused like I was during my last year at Mission Hill. Focused on the work that needs to be done and what I need to do. I’m also less stiff and rigid, which is always handy =D

The 2015-16 Boston school year begins this Tuesday!

This is where keeping your options open comes in handy   Leave a comment

As you all know, I took the last two and a half months of the 2014-15 school year off due to stress. As I mentioned in my June 30 post on the matter, I left the door open to returning to BPS just in case. In light of the fact I’ve been unsuccessful so far in securing new employment that has a decient/reliable Health Insurance coverage, I will begin the process of ending my long-term leave of absence in the next day or two.

I missed the excess pool and will pick from what’s left before the remaining open positions are made available to new hires. I got the notification as well as a spreadsheet containing a list of the open positions at the time two weeks after the excess pool already happened. It happened because at the time, the BTU didn’t have my current home address on file. A problem I fixed as a result of that XD

Health insurance and obvious income needs aside, I have a more personal reason for returning to BPS: My 6-year old niece. Last week, I became aware of concerns around her comprehension and fliuency as a reader. Due to my background, I agreed to take over as her tutor for the long-term . I plan to meet with her teacher when the school year begins to make sure she gets a well rounded education plan. Plus I did tell her I would teach her to read like a boss.

…Those who’ve had the honor of working with me know The Aurabolt’s dedication to Education is not to be underestimated Of course, I’m obviously very passionate about it =D

This time, it’s personal for me. I plan to work part time during the next school year so I can still focus on other things. If things go as planned, I should finish the whole school year this time! I will provide an update on the subject once my employment and school assignment have been both confirmed, likely in a few weeks. Before my fomer collagues from my previous school get too excited, I am not returning to that particular school next year. I do plan to visit at the end of the month, though.

Look forward to it ^_^

Putting My Cards on the Table…   Leave a comment

I edited my last post so you can consider this a followup to that.

 

So basically, I received a memo at work from BPS Headquarters stating I would continue on at my current position starting September 2, 2014. Unlike the last 5 times I received this memo there was a catch attached to this one: Depending on what happens between now and then, my assignment may not be guaranteed. My opinion of the matter aside for a moment, there are two facts I want to share first:

  1. As of right now, Boston Public Schools is still looking for a new Superintendant. At the time the previous Superintendent left, the previous mayor of Boston announced he would not seek another term, which set off the election to replace him. The position of Superintendent is a politically appointed position–one usually made by the city’s mayor. Due to this, prospective candidates decided to wait until the new mayor was elected–in this case Martin “Marty” Walsh–before making a bid for the position. As of right now, Boston Public Schools does not have a permanent Superintendant.
  2. As a side-effect to the transition between mayors, almost everyone working at BPS Headquarters was let go (read: Fired) though some were offered their old positions back. This has had a ripple effect to the schools themselves, many of which are still adapting or recovering from the changes made by the previous administration. One sad outcome from this is as of right now, there are 263 Boston teachers unassigned to a school or classroom. These teachers are stuck in limbo and it is of no fault of their own.

My situation is similar to the last part of Point 2 and it’s the second time in three years I’ve been in this position. There are a few differences from both their situation and the last time I was in this position. For one, the last time I was in this position my position had been cut in half two years prior. Finding out my position was being eliminated from the school’s budget (along with another staff member’s) didn’t surprise me at all. Yes, I was upset but I wasn’t surprised. Another difference between then and now is this time I currently occupy a full-time position at my current school. Before, I was part-time.

Another thing that makes then different from now is unlike back then, I feel like where I am now my evaluator didn’t let their personal feelings effect their role as my evaluator. Of that there there is no doubt. It’s not as easy as it sounds to separate your personal feelings for someone you’ve come to know for two years from doing what’s expected of you as a school administrator and doing an impartial evaluation of someone you’ve come to know during that time. There’s more I’d like to say but before I do, there’s a conversation I need to have with someone first. It wouldn’t feel right if I spoke on what I have in mind until then.

One thing that is the same from both then and now–and I don’t mind saying this knowing there’s a 50% chance I will be back in the fall–is in both cases, my evaluator had mostly positive things to say about my candor and my interactions with staff, families and students. My attention to detail and work ethic are obvious from the moment I step into the building to the moment I leave at the end of the day.

It comes natural to me so, I don’t even think about it anymore. In this case the “it” being just being kind to people. I’ve heard it so many times over the last 14 years professionally, it’s like a broken record. The flip side to this is when the topic comes to weather or not my skillset fits with the needs of the school, historically from my perspective, things tend to get murky. Before I continue I do wish to stress I want to say I mean my entire career working at BPS and not just this past school year and the previous school year:

  • On the one hand, at all three of my schools certain things were verbally promised. Things ranging from consistent time to lesson plan with my classroom partner to opportunities to fine-tune things identified as what I need to work on to training for working with students with specific types of special needs. At all three schools, most of these opportunities are offered as external workshops or courses, which is fine for an overview but not as helpful for the specific type of support one might need. Only at my current school was lesson-planning with my classroom partner actually common practice and expected.
  • On another hand, I am 3 points shy of having my Associate’s Degree. Technically, the highest level of education I’ve completed is still High School. Like it or not, this is a factor I actually do think about that must be taken into consideration on the subject of bring back next year or let go. While experience is something that should not be taken lightly, other credentials (degrees, licenses, certifications, etc.) should be factored in addition.

That said, it’s been my experience at my first and third (current) schools it’s not so much the lack of the latter of the above itself but really I haven’t been able to prove my particular skillset is beneficial to the school’s needs. That’s the bottom line and the only thing I really care about. Only at my current school did I have someone willing to tell me that. My second school doesn’t apply since I was only there for a year.

That said: One thing many folks outside the industry don’t know about many career Paraprofessionals is they’re prettymuch self-taught. That means they learn the job as they go along. This was the case with me prettymuch but when I started, I also had 5 years prior experience working with children with special needs at a summer camp as well as my two years working in a classroom during the two years I was in City Year.

I’m going to wrap up and do something I’ve never done before and talk about two things very quickly. One of them is for my school community while the other is more general and for everyone. Both of these were originally going to be in my book Aurabolt Unleashed so you might want to pay attention:

The first thing I want to say is I want to make something perfectly clear about my approach when working with students: I exercise restraint during all of my interactions with students. I wasn’t kidding when I said in a YouTube video that when I’m on my own time, I live in the moment. I don’t think about the past or future. Only the present. At work, I have the awareness that what I do or say can be seen as a reflection of the school and do I take this detail very seriously. It’s for this reason I put a mental lock on my big personality to keep my impulsive side under control. At my second school, I told the principal due to my own cognitive disorders I’m always working twice as hard as everyone else to make sure that aspect of me does not impair my judgment.

That said, I have no problem admitting to having done or said some things that looking back, I would have definitely handled differently. Some folks may wonder why I’m so critical of the mistakes or slip-ups I make at work weather it’s pointed out or not. It’s not just because of the things I just mentioned but because historically, when I make a mistake there’s usually a discussion about it and due to what I view as a belief on the person pointing it out that I don’t fully understand what I did or said. I view this as a challenge to my intelligence first and an insult to me as a person second. I’m not saying there can be no discussion but if we’re going to have one, both of us should walk away feeling like the issue was resolved. This past year was the first school year I actually felt that way and that’s saying something.

The other thing I want to say is by nature, I’ve always been more comfortable working with kids than adults. My first job ever at age 16 was working with children with special needs in Boston at a summer camp. Part of it is never really fitting in with folks my own age at the time and the other is not wanting ANY child I worked with to feel left out.

This, ladies and gentlemen is why I’ve done what I’ve done these last 14 years.

I know what it’s like firsthand to be looked at differently because of what I’ve been disagnosed with. All kids with special needs do even if they don’t show it or can’t directly communicate that awareness. It is my firm belief that our job as adults is to help them find their way. Once that understanding is mutually established, you will have earned a permanent spot in that child’s heart. All of the adults who meet this criteria of mine are educators or are current or former City Year members.

One thing I always asked of my teachers when I was in grade school is if he/she would be the one who would recognize, tap and draw out my full potential. Only four teachers can make that claim: Jane Harper (K2 and 1st Grade), Jane Holliman (4th and 5th Grade), Richard Webber (7th, 8th, 9, 10th, 11th and 12th Grade) and Carolyn Tracey (9th-12th Grade).

At the very least, I want it to be said that I did the same for someone. If not, I’ve failed at my life’s work. My life’s work is to inspire people to do the same.

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