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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Murphy’s Law Multiplied…
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 • Posted June 11, 2008

That “whooshing” sound you hear has nothing to do with the wind. Rather, it is the collective wheeze of school superintendents exhaling at the same time. (Please, no insensitive questions about whether it’s hot air!)

These CEO’s, and bunches of others in the educational enterprise, figure that foul-ups of the 2007-2008 school year now are in their rearview mirrors.

Such stalwarts are beaten down by end-of-year turbulence that strikes liken to waves beating against the rocks. Most of them fully believe that the law attributed to Edward Murphy—the one explaining that whatever can go wrong, will—still applies. They figure that annually in May, this Murphy guy deputizes additional gremlins, assigning them specific tasks. They are to loosen lug nuts on the wheels of well-greased educational wagons, causing them, of course, to fall off. It is then that veteran educators—often secretly, but sometimes openly—interrupt their weeping with chest-pounding “Why me, Lord?,” gestures….

  • * * * *

Board members share their pain. Theirs, however, is to set policy. In theory, the school year unfolds according to their written plan. Key word is “theory.” Sometimes, best-laid plans turn to mush.

When gremlins are at work, board members may stare directly at the superintendent, asking, “What did they teach you to do in graduate school when you face situations like this?” (Length and glare of gaze usually depend on how many years remain on said superintendent’s contract.)

The harried “supe,” in so many words, responds: “In graduate school, they taught us NEVER to get into situations like this.”…

  • * * * *

Two examples of gremlins at work—180 degrees and about that many miles apart—are Grapevine-Colleyville ISD in the Metroplex and tiny Lueders-Avoca, a consolidated rural school in West Texas.

The former had too many valedictorians, and the latter nary a one. Officials cited commitment to policy in both cases. In Grapevine, the student who finished with the highest GPA in school history completed her pilgrimage in three years. The rules call for four years, so at graduation, there were dual honors—one for the winner who completed the four-year track and the other who finished in three.

Out west, there were just five graduates, but again, rules got in the way, so no valedictory or salutatory speeches were made there on graduation night….

  • * * * *

There were some other oddities. In Hermleigh, all seven seniors were males.

And in Abilene, they promoted school attendance in elementary and middle school grades with an end-of-school drawing. There were 48 names in the bucket; that’s how many kids missed two days or fewer. The big prize was a $10,000 certificate toward the purchase of a car. The winner? Fifth-grader Dakota Fortune.

But he was absent for the drawing, choosing baseball practice instead. Luckily, his grandmother/guardian showed up to claim his prize by proxy….

  • * * * *

Graduation ceremonies rarely make the Guinness Book of World Records, but one in Fort Worth did.

At North Crowley High School, they were seeing double—and even triple—as 10 sets of twins and one of triplets received diplomas.

Reckon any of them switched places in lines to intentionally get the wrong diplomas?...

  • * * * *

Akin to the military’s long-standing tradition of recruits being sent in search of keys to the parade grounds, some schools have similar traditions to ease the pain of end-of-school woes.

One is Forsan, near Big Spring in West Texas. Theirs is a close-knit bunch, and the school is known for academic and athletic excellence.

They laugh at themselves annually when the winners of “Green Apple Awards” are announced….

  • * * * *

Often popping up is the name of Bob Fishback, 26-year veteran who is Technology Director.

Much-loved and something of a “do-everything” sort of guy, he’s also a fellow of keen wit.

Someone said if he hadn’t landed in education, he might have been a circus clown or court jester….

  • * * * *

One Friday, he fine-tuned the computer in the office of first-year nurse, Michelle Couch. Before Fishback hustled off to lunch, a gremlin came along, and sat down by his side.

Bob shook hands with the visitor, then hastened back to the keyboard to send an IFM (instant FAKE message) to teacher Carrie Averette. In effect, he informed her that several students were victims of tick infestation. Just to be safe, the mock-message indicated that ears of kindergarten and first-grade teachers would be inspected the following week. Carrie was asked to show up at 7:30 a.m. Monday in the nurse’s office. Monday? She, along with fellow teachers Tracy Newton and Ellie Miller, marched into the nurse’s office a few minutes later, demanding to have their ears examined right then. Nurse Couch, of course, didn’t know what they were talking about.

Superintendent Randy Johnson gave “Tick or Treat” Green Apple Awards to the trio. With summer at hand, Forsan school folks are certain that Fishback already is plotting more escapades in 2008-2009….

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. He welcomes comments and inquiries. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com

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