I started out life in New Hampshire and finished growing up in Northwest Pennsylvania. I attended a non-traditional education program that no longer exists at Allegheny College, a small liberal arts college, student taught in Cleveland Heights, and landed my first job in Lorain, Ohio. The year started with a strike and ended with a large workforce layoff, so I came back home, bought a mobile home, and lived in a trailer court while I subbed in three districts.
After a year, I started landing year-long sub jobs with the same school district I had graduated from in the mid-seventies. It was not the plan, but there was a woman... After thirty-some years in that district, I've taught pretty much every brand of English we have here, 7-12. But high school is my home; middle schoolers are, as I said back when I taught them, the emotional equivalent of having someone scream in your ears all day. God bless, MS teachers. And now, after thirty-nine total years in the classroom, I've retired.
I have a story, but it's nothing special. I was not very good at husbanding, but our two kids are now grown and, I think, exceptionally fine people, with exceptionally fine little people of their own. I remarried years ago to a woman who was just beginning her elementary teaching career. My liberal arts background allows me to be busily fair-to-middlin' at a number of things. I direct local theater. I kayak and bike. I advised yearbook, student council, and stage crew. I play trombone in a 164-year-old town band and in a traditional jazz band with my brother and my high school band director. I've been the president of a striking teachers' union. I live in a house within walking distance of my small town's center and with a back porch that looks out over the river. I've been writing a weekly column for the local newspapers for over fifteen years. At various points in my life, I've been a huge jerk. I see former students and their families every single day, and I like it. I have a pair of toddler twins, two grown children, three beautiful grandbabies.
I was not a super-teacher, and I didn't suck (most days). But I really care about the work and the profession. I'm not a crazed anarchist, but I don't see a lot of value worrying about coloring inside the lines, either. I'm not a joiner, and I never automatically rule anything out or in just because of the source.
I concluded a long time ago that teaching is a sort of guerilla warfare, where we stay low, do what we can get away with for the students, and pick our battles carefully. But sometimes the battles pick us, and all we can do is respond from the gut and the head. I'm an optimist about the future and a realist about the present, but I live a life of great privilege, and I try never to forget to be grateful for that.
This blog is about blowing off steam and standing up for public education. I am lucky to live in an age when being able to string some words together can be combined with a little tech skill to reach people who need a hand, a reminder that they aren't alone, a word of encouragement. So I'm giving it a shot.
You can find me on twitter as @palan57. I'm on facebook, but all I do there is talk about Normal Daily Things. However, this blog has a facebook page which you can like as one more way to stay up with Curmudgucation. You can also find me blogging for Forbes and writing for Progressives education focus page. And if you want to email me, that's fine too-- I'm at pagreene at outlook dot com.