That’s It! We’re Calling It…Close the Doors.

Each panel is a large piece, made into a digital composite to form the page.

Each panel is a large piece, made into a digital composite to form the page.

It is the end of my first semester as a High School teacher. For perhaps the first time in my career, my gradebook was left on my desk yesterday, completely ready to turn in. Verification rosters are submitted, and all two hundred of my students have final grades. A surprisingly small number of them are failing, in fact, there is a generous sampling of pretty decent grades.

More importantly, for the first time in a long time, the job has been worthwhile. Sure, there are meetings, but they tend to be about things that make sense when you signed up to be a schoolteacher. There are meetings about lesson planning when the planning actually happens, for instance. Discussions about student discipline are rare, as opposed to the norm. No one doubts that administration is actually working on the same thing that we are, and generally, interaction is toward that goal. All in all, most of my day is spent on the business of actually teaching content to the students.

Along the way, it has been fun, for lack of a better term. My friend has roped me into all of the school activities, and as a result, I have been around with the students at their most positive. I’ve gone to football games, something I never did when I was young. I’ve supervised dances, set up visits from radio stations, and been the advisor to a club. Today, at lunch, I’ll be playing Magic: the Gathering with some students that are gaming enthusiasts. In other words…its the kind of thing that you expect teachers to do.

My entire career to this point…hasn’t been that “normal.” It’s important to note, that I’m not at some fancy school on the Westside of LA, these aren’t “rich kids.” It’s the area by Alameda and Slauson, south of the train station. It’s only four miles away from the Negative Zone where I used to teach. The school is one that falls under the Reed Settlement, and receives Federal funding because so many student families are below the poverty line. That kind of school, restructured into a functional academic environment.

I’ve enjoyed it immensely, because I’m participating in doing what I have always wanted to do…bringing the Westside quality of education to the Eastside, breaking down the financial barrier that prevents so many young people from having a positive school experience…forget being successful and going to college. Over the years I’ve observed so many students in school environments that could only be called “hellish,” so it’s a big deal to bring quality of experience to the day to day lives of young people. Add to that the real opportunities for the future that a good education provides, and it’s pretty rewarding stuff.

Horsey is back! I thought that he should get an updated “Edu-Mountain” themed uniform too, but something that would accentuate how “Beyond Ripped” Horsey is. I drew the fish people in the background because I wasn’t sure if I wanted Horsey to be talking about needing to jet before Aqua-Carols were sung by the Born Again Atlanteans…but as yet there has been no evidence of that kind of thing. They are just people who are part fish…think comic book or Pokemon evolution here. An Edu-Mountain populated by knights and such made from hyper evolved animals would HAVE to have some fin headed fish people.

Horsey seem frustrated with them, or maybe the protagonist procrastinating, in panel one. Let’s look at the original art.

Yay! Horsey!

Yay! Horsey!

I debated not showing the protagonist at all in the strip, and just having dialogue from her in the car panel. Over the course of the day, I decided on a panel that didn’t have dialogue, depicting a moment of sadness…kind of like when you tell kids it is definitely time to leave Disneyland. I’m not saying that my job is like a day at Disneyland, but when I see what other people my age do for a living, and compare my general day for the last ninety days to theirs…I’m definitely on top.

Some days I get to got to school in costume, and students come in matching outfits. Other days, I discuss literature, talk about the writing process, and still others, I plan activities like on campus line dancing. The downsides are pretty minimal…all jobs have paperwork, after all. Few jobs let you give soccer advice to students in one moment, and then discuss literature the next. When school runs well, it doesn’t feel all that much like work.

Panel two was all about conveying tone.

Panel two was all about conveying tone.

Not that I don’t want a vacation…I could use one. The hours are longer than I am used to, and the pacing is different. I’m tired, and like our hero I’m looking forward to nachos and playing Card Wars for a couple of weeks. Tomorrow’s post will be the last one in this highly experimental week, in terms of artwork, so that’s something to look forward to.

I don’t even know what it will be, yet. All I know is that despite the crumminess of how I got where I am at the moment…I just put an excellent semester “in the can” as it were. It went by really quickly…it seems like I just started.

I suppose that is a good thing.

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