April has been a non-stop month that has kept me so busy that I could barely breathe. I haven't kept up on everybody's blog, and I haven't even been able to post for a month. Whew! At least all the grades are done and in the computer. This last week was exam week, but the English class I teach has no exam. Therefore, earlier this week I finished up the portfolios and calculated the final grades. Then I received griping from several students who feel that just because Eng 103 is rumoured to be an easy class, that means they get an A. Who cares if the work is excellent? They're special, and they deserve an A! It's already giving me the creeps that about half of all my students get As in this system. That should only happen once in a blue moon, when a class just happens to be the best of your career. Out of about 75 students, I think I had one F, one D, two Cs, approx. 38 As, and the rest are Bs. That's not the grades most of them warrant if one looks at the work, but this system rewards people for just working hard. I'm sorry, but if you study four days for a math test and still do the problems wrong, you don't get an A on the test. Effort should count...in that effort spent should lead to more quality work. It shouldn't be just that effort means they get an A. When the students argued for their grades (yes, that's the system--I am not allowed to grade; they have to argue for their grades at the midterm and final and I either agree with the assessment or disagree), they frequently list off good attendance, never handing in a paper late, and doing all assignments in the format requested as the reason why they should get an A. I always write in the margins of those folks who truly believe that's enough: "But what about your WRITING? This is, after all, an English composition class."
Anyway, it's good that it's over. I got a stack of books from the library on Thursday and have been savoring the time to read them. This summer shall be about organizing my small apartment (much smaller now that Alex has moved in for good as of Wednesday) so that we can live with more stuff in the same little space, and it shall be all about reading. I want to learn some more French and more about wine, and then I also want to read for pleasure. I have to fly out for a week to grade AP literature exams, but otherwise, the summer is wide open for me.
My daughter got another Terrific Kid award at her school. She received one last year too. It's all about being a good citizen--helping others, playing with everybody, being nice, etc. I had to cancel classes that day so that I could go to the award ceremony. I told my classes that my daughter was the total package: she is smart, pretty, funny, kind, creative, and amazing in every way. In fact, she was the next best hope for this generation, and she was probably going to save mankind one day. Then I made the class say "thank you Kira" for giving birth and raising said amazing child who would take care of their world for them. Most of them said it, but the rest were laughing too hard to add in their voices. Oh well!
Still no word from Clemson as to whether or not I get to work there next year. Basically, I had a great evaluation from teacher and student, and I signed a reappointment letter. However, that's not a contract, and the department just added a PhD program. New PhD students = we need to give them TAs and let them teach classes for their stipend. The first place to pull classes is from the first year lecturers. That'd be me. I really thought that when I signed the reappointment letter last January, that meant I'd get to work at Clemson for sure. It's no longer a certainty by far.
At first, I had this confidence that I would somehow be one of the very few first years they'd keep. Then I had an incident a few weeks ago that made me realize that I might not be at Clemson next year. No, it's not what you think. I'm going to try to explain.
I have felt for a while now that I'm placed where I need to be. I leave my heart open to being where I need to be, and then when I arrive I do my job. So, at Tech there were a few students I know I needed to help out for the positive. When my time there was done, I was moved to Clemson. I have no doubt that there are students at Tech who still believe that if it were not for me, they'd not be continuing onwards. I know that sounds like bragging, and I don't mean it to be that way. It's not a case of "I'm wonderful, look what I can do!" so much as "Yes, I have my purpose, and thank you for letting me do some good in the world." I want to do good, so I do. Simple.
So when my former student Brenda (I blogged about her years ago) cut across traffic in the beginning of April and blockaded my car into remaining next to the gas pump as I pumped gas, she was my reminder that I had done what I could do at Tech. Babbling happily at me, she told me that she was scared she'd not see me again since she knew I had moved on from Tech, but she wanted me to know that she was entering her clinicals for nursing and would be a nurse in a year. I was so proud of her! We must have hugged thirty times before she left. Her life is so much more on track, and as a result, her two teens and her four year old boy are too. She thanked me over and over again for giving her the confidence to do exactly what she was doing. Brenda was why I was at Tech. Her encounter with me was to remind me of that fact, I believe. On a funny side note, she told me that she had spotted me from behind and knew instantly it was me because "No white woman has really long red-brown hair and a butt like that except Miss Kira!" Haha! That cracked me up.
Then, within days, I had an email arrive in my box that was a surprise to me. Yes, I had been trying to help out this one kid in my classes, but I had no idea how profoundly she was affected by my efforts until she told me. Basically, she informed me that she thought that nobody cared at Clemson and that she was just a face lost in the crowd. She believed she had no purpose anymore, and there was no reason to continue in her education or even go on at all for that matter. For some reason, the way I approached her helped her see things differently, and she's decided that she can do something...be something...and she's staying in Clemson now for next year. She told me she knew that if she hadn't had me for a teacher, she'd have, at the very least, dropped out of school. Wow. Now I know why I got hired at Clemson.
So, unless there are more reasons like that to keep me at the university, I suppose I'll be let go with the majority of the first years. But it's ok. I feel confident that if I am let go, I will then end up where I need to be. And it'll be fine.
On the good news front: Alex has a paid internship at Michelin for the summer. Woohoo! They wanted it to be for four months, but it's going to be for three because of some issues with Alex's school (something about them wanting him to have it over with so he could graduate in August instead of December). He's allowed to take the internship even though he still has a student visa and not a green card because it's an essential part of his studies. Basically, they are all supposed to have a summer internship doing whatever is their specialty. Michelin needed somebody for operations, and that's Alex's chosen field. They were SO excited when he applied because...well, he's French, and they prefer their upper management folks to be bilingual since Michelin is a French company! Yay! They also told him that most of their internships lead to full time offers when the internship is done! DOUBLE YAY! Now all we have to do is have his green card processed by the time that he's graduated from USC. It looks like maybe it'll be Sept. that he might get it. You know what? If I don't end up getting rehired at Clemson, if he gets a job at Michelin we will still be in a way better financial position than we've ever been, either of us, in our lives. This could be something great!