You know, one nice thing about my audience is, I know I can play with acronyms and get multiple responses.

Like, for example, if I were to say that I think my sons’ school Principal could really benefit from RIF, I know that some folks out there are thinking…

“Oh, is their school library so crappy that they could use the assistance of a visit from the Reading is Fundamental truck?”

To which I could reply, “Yes indeed.”

But I also know some of my other readers are thinking, “Oh damn, he thinks she needs to take a ride on the Reduction in Force bus?”

To which I would also reply, “Yes, indeed.”

Tonight, dear friends, tonight was the night when our school had it’s open house, the first official ‘welcome back’ for students and parents alike.

The Principal, in her infinite wisdom, decided to make tonight at 6:30 PM a mandatory event attended by parents and students, an event where she introduced herself, the staff and the faculty, and then read the school’s mission statement to the crowd.

I’ll say one thing. You can learn a lot about the mentality of a group of upper management by the mission statement… and depending on what it’s like, how proud they are of it.


After that, THEN we all were sent to the classrooms for the teachers to give their new students and the parents or guardians some nice powerpoint presentations.

Why did we have this event, an event that I’m sure caused some families to cancel Labor Day vacation plans in order to be present?

Why, it was to build a strong community. Community was mentioned multiple times.

Call me cynical and jaded, but if your idea of building a community is ordering everybody with a child that attends your school to be at the event in order to find out what class you’ll be in on Tuesday, and they have to show up because they love their kids and don’t want them left out… well, is it really fostering a sense of community when people have no choice but to show up? Really?

Anyway, something happened, just a little side note, a brief moment while everyone was waiting for the event to kick off that Cassie pointed out to me, an event that almost caused me to lose it right there in the school gymnasium.

The gymnasium has very high walls, with narrow windows ringing ’round the entire upper perimeter. This allows natural sunlight to enter the gym, but keeps the glass up high enough for errant basketballs to lose oomph before reaching escape vectors.

The event, as I stated earlier, was slated to begin at 6:30. This just happened to be brilliantly timed to coincide with the perfect angle of incidence so that the sun’s golden rays lanced blindingly into the gym, to shine directly into the eyes of anyone standing behind the podium on the stage.

The Principal, standing upon the very, very wide stage and positioned behind the podium, noticed the sun shining into her eyes. I would say it was hard for anyone to miss, but oh well. I gave her points for realizing something was out of the norm.

The Principal, squinting up into the Sun, picks up the podium, and begins to drag it along the stage towards her right. Drag, drag, drag. Looking for shade.

Now, while I could mock her for doing so because, as I said before, the windows ring the entire perimeter and, you know, it’s Sun all the way around, there was method to her actions.

In the direct center of the windows was a single, narrow pillar. A cunning person, perhaps desiring to find that one succulant sliver of shade, could slide the podium until it was lined up to take advantage of the angle of incidence of the Sun behind the stone column.

So, she slid the podium all the way to her right.

Then, having run out of stage, she stopped at the edge, and, having not found the shade of which she sought, picked it back up and slid her way the entire length of the stage to her left.

This action, alas, also resulted in failure, and a continued presence of Sun in da face, for she failed to move smoothly enough to detect the presence of shade during the brief moment her path of travel intersected the proper point in space.

Now, I was already shaking my head sadly at this pitiful sight, despondent at the thought of the likely future of our impressionable youth, and the likelihood of hearing my son grow up to learn to ask, “Would you like fries with that”, and turned my gaze away from the sad spectacle.

Cassie, however, poked me gently and gestured back towards the stage, where a new tableau had begun to form.

A new presence had joined the Principal on the stage. This new lady had a brisk stride, and a firm and determined look about her stern visage.

As the Principal looked on befuddled, gazing directly into the Sun, holding the podium in her half-hearted grip, this newcomer grabbed the podium, pulled it from her slack grasp, and pointedly turned to face away from the Sun towards the BACK of the stage, where the shadow of the pillar could clearly be seen against the bright glare of the Sun on the walls.

Having taken this daring and original step, the newcomer followed this bold move up by clearly correlating the position of her own shadow on the wall with the current location of the shadow cast by the pillar, and then moved her own body, and the podium, so that her shadow intersected the shadow of the pillar cast on the wall.

Having thus found the correct location, she set the podium down, thereby providing the Principal with blessed, blessed shade.

I looked quizzically towards Cassie, and she answered my unspoken question with two words;

“Technology Instructor”.


25 thoughts on “Sideshots

  1. @phoebrosa:

    Not all homeschool curriculum is as low-end as you seem to think. Check out Five in a Row for one example. I know of one person using that with her (exceptionally bright) five year old daughter, and it seems to be going very well.

    Me too. I worked in a theatre once that had (large) windows *in the wings*. Nobody who worked there could explain it.


  2. I thought you were going to end the story with “the janitor”. The lowest paid, hardest working, and probably the smartest person there at the school.


  3. As a Theatre tech, I have to do a massive facepalm each time I walk into a Gymntorium and see all the glass that has no curtains. What are people who build stages in these places thinking when they can’t be blacked out for a performance? Sheesh !


  4. @analogue it scares me that you would chose to home-school your child. Taking away the opportunities of making friends, facing challenges, paying attention to someone other than mom and dad….
    If I had been home -schooled… my mother would have ran away. Why, because my sister and I are smarter than expected. Smarter than the current “home-schooling” curriculum. I find it interesting that home-schoolers only have to handle about grade 11 math. … but yet I had the opportunity to and took algebra; something my mom would have had issues teaching us. Dad on the other hand would have had us doing wacky physics experiments on the cat.(yes he was a high school physics teacher)

    As for the hopeless prinicple – why wasn’t the podium set up the other way. That way the parents could bask in the warm sunlight while attempting to pay attention to babblings about community.


  5. The principal is much better one-on-one or in small groups, but seems to get very flustered by large group public speaking, so this definitely wasn’t her finest moment. 🙂 She seems to be a competent administrator in general though.

    The technology teacher is their fancy name for the computer teacher at the school because she also handles AV and other technical issues for the teachers (like video and digital cameras, etc).

    But the school is wonderful overall. It’s actually a private school, not public one, that we sacrifice a fair amount for him to be able to attend. The teachers are fabulous and Alex has already learned so much in kindergarten and first grade there. And as a bonus, the class sizes are reasonably small (some went up a bit this year due to combining classes that had lower enrollment). But his 2nd grade class this year has only 18 kids in it (compared to our friend’s 2nd grader who has 32 kids in their public school class this year).

    So rest assured, the bear cub, is getting a great education. BBB just likes to be snarky and make fun of things at the school and couldn’t resist sharing this one. 🙂



  6. That was hilarious! If the sun is shining in your eyes, typically your immediate natural reaction is to find some sliver of shade to block it… why you’d not find that before deciding where to move the podium is beyond me.

    As for your kid, I think the environment at home is a HUGE factor and kids who are motivated grab knowledge wherever they can. You and Cassie sound like very involved parents so I think little bear will do just fine in life. 🙂


  7. Well, to be honest, a principal doesn’t necessarily do a lot of teaching (or do they? Sorry, I’m not native to the US). And I’ve seen university professors with quite an interesting level of “disconnectedness” with the “real world”…

    However, ever since I married and had an instant-family with two teenagers at the time, I’ve lost most hope for the future generation. I wonder what you would have to do as a kid to actually fail a class like, oh, English or Math. Or why people told us “Oh, that’s a good school – they have a great tennis/hockey/football/wrestling” team. How that relates to education is beyond me.

    Good luck – and I’m pretty sure your kids will turn out just fine despite public schools!


  8. Sigh . . . this what I have to look forward to with our newborn? Time to get a second job so I can pick where my child goes to school.


  9. In my corporate world, “RIF” is business-speak for “reduction in force” because layoffs is such an ugly ugly word.

    I think my kid’s school could benefit from that kind of RIF though, to be honest.


  10. @Tesh, it goes like this:
    Those who can, do.
    Those who can’t, teach.
    Those who can’t teach, teach Phy Ed.
    Those who can’t teach Phy Ed, administer.


  11. Mwhahaha. Sounds like my old tech teacher. And my condolances on what your son is going to learn at that school. My only good teacher in all of my years who took time to really teach was of course the Tech teacher. Oh well what do you expect from government run education, and government paid employees.


  12. To me, RIF stands for “Restricted Information Facility”. Given the rest of the story, it seems like that one may also fit pretty well 🙂

    @Keeva: LOL!

    @Tesh: I believe the phrase you’re looking for is “The Peter Principle”. Not to be confused with “The Gervaise Principle” which is even more cynical 😉


  13. While a mite worrying for your offspring, this did brighten my foggy Yorkshire morning, so thankyou very much for sharing! I hope little bear enjoys his new year at school!

    I have wondered how some management types get to where they are while not being able to find their proverbial with both hands. There does often seem to be stressed and less well paid person just behind them pointing out where to sign, where they need to be and suggest how sir/madam might find things easier if they do X.

    “Technology Instructor”. HAHAHAHA!


  14. What’s that theory? Middle management failing upward to the point where they do the least damage to the real production floor and have the least real power? Seems to work in education, too.


  15. Currently, I am blessed that my kids are in a really small school. The teachers are all wonderful, they have an Archery class and spend almost half the day outdoors. We are used a few loopholes to get them in there, but won’t be able to after this year. The deciding factor for keeping them there (for me anyway, my wife was not as impressed) was that the 6th grade class learned how to properly skin, clean and cure a feral hog that a student’s father had killed on a hunting trip. They cooked and ate said hog as well. It was even used as a lesson on Native American culture and EVERY part of the hog was used in some way. And no, I didn’t get a single slice of bacon out of the deal, but it was still pretty damn persuasive. That being said, I get nervous about teachers and especially Principals. I mean, what do you do if they are idiots? It’s not like you can just call them out and not expect it to have some effect on your kid.
    The word “community” makes me cringe just because of the way it gets thrown around with everything. Good Luck with everything and good luck to the little bear. I hope he is in the Technology Instructor’s class at some point. I think a good teacher can outweigh a bad system as far as an individual child is concerned.


  16. Long time reader, first time poster.

    ha ha ha ha ha. Score one for the geeks!

    Side note your sons school has a technology instructor? This common these days? I guess both being out of schools for a long time and having no kids leaves one ignorant of what’s going in modern education.


Comments are closed.