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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 • Posted August 26, 2009

Lessons Learned…

Column #330 for Release Saturday, August 22, 2009, or Later

They showed up more than a thousand strong in San Antonio a while back, student recruitment and retention folks from throughout the nation whose jobs are to sign up—and retain—incoming college freshmen.

The conference was sponsored by Noel-Levitz, experts in the field who know more about 18-year-olds than the kids know about themselves. And these gurus spout statistics about trends, probabilities and other data as effortlessly as youngsters exchange text messages. “The average high school senior texts 90 times daily,” one speaker claimed.

This stat came to mind later in New York City when a young lady, perhaps facing her senior year in high school, emerged from a nail salon with nail extensions that would have passed for talons. They flummoxed her efforts to text. “It’s like your fingers doing the walking—on stilts,” she laughed….

  • * * * *

Two educators who taught multiple generations of students (without many teaching materials or much else early on) recorded 128 total classroom years. They had speaking parts at recent school in-service programs, one in Stephenville and the other in Sealy.

In Stephenville, Virginia Bond, who retired in June after 65 years as an elementary music teacher, received a standing ovation from the some 500 attendees. Superintendent Darrell Floyd asked how many people in the audience—or their children or grandchildren—had sat in Miss Bond’s classes. A full three-fourths of them stood. Mayor Nancy Hunter designated August 17 as “Virginia Bond Day” and awarded her the first-ever “key to the city.”

“They couldn’t tell me what it opens, except that I shouldn’t expect it to work if I lock myself out of my house,” the 85-year-old joked….

  • * * * *

In Sealy, 91-year-old Maggie Selman brought greetings. She “taught it all,” so to speak, starting out there when the community had a one-room school. (She served in Sealy for 58 of her 63 instructional years.)

She told in-service participants how much she continues to value learning, but was reluctant to start first grade 85 years ago. “I so hated to leave my dogs and cats behind when I left the house each day,” she admitted. A few minutes later, Board President Mark Miller said he felt the same way about his dogs and cats, and “that was when I left the house this morning!”

Mrs. Selman’s name is on two Sealy schools. It was first on the elementary school, and when it was split to make way for an intermediate school, backers of both schools insisted on keeping her name. So, it’s on the intermediate school, too….

  • * * * *

My 97-year-old Uncle Mort, who claims to be “an honor graduate of the school of hard knocks,” hopes Michael Vick learned his lesson after spending 18 months in the penitentiary for his dog-fighting ventures.

Mort spoke of sports humorist David Thomas’ mention that if there were just one more letter in the Philadelphia nickname, they wouldn’t have signed him. He wouldn’t be a “fit” with the Philadelphia “Beagles.”

Extending that logic, he said that the fight for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Texas could be a tribute to S&H Green Stamps, trading stamps that were a national rage for several decades. “Put an ‘S’ in front of Perry, and you’ve got Sperry,” Mort prattled. “Sperry and Hutchison printed a bunch more stamps than the post office for lots of years,” he added. (I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he’d have to introduce a second letter in Kay Bailey Hutchison’s name, since the stamp people were named “HutchiNson.”)…

  • * * * *

Uncle Mort continued on his winding trail of conversational topics, switching gears to the recent 40th anniversary of man’s first moon walk.

“Old Alvin Dark was quite a prophet,” he claimed. Dark was manager of the San Francisco Giants when Gaylord Perry was a rookie pitcher back in 1962. It is said that in that year, a sportswriter asked Dark what he thought of Perry’s chances of ever hitting a home run. “Man will walk on the moon before he hits a home run,” Dark predicted.

Wouldn’t you know it? Seven years later, on July 21, 1969, Apollo XI made its lunar landing. A few minutes later (some claim it was a few hours), Perry blasted the first of his six career major league homers….

  • * * * *

A final “kid kudo.” Hats off to the “elevenish” youngster who luckily took his glove to a recent Rangers’ baseball game in Arlington. His perch, high in the stadium behind third base, was far removed from home plate.

He’s glad he had his glove.

In the span of two minutes, he snagged TWO foul balls. May he be so fortunate at school this year….

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. Send inquiries and comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Call 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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