Slice of Life: Thank You Gary

Tonight I need to sort things out before I go to bed. Running isn’t a possibility, so writing is the workout.

High temperatures in Southern California are getting dangerous. Recess is indoors and after school athletics are canceled. If you don’t have air conditioning, sleeping is difficult. This morning, students were irritable. One actually fell asleep reading on the carpet; out cold.  He had had no sleep the night before.

The morning wore on. By lunchtime, my east-facing classroom’s thermostat read 89º.  After lunch, we packed up and took off for the library, filled with cool air and couches.  Our minds started working again and tension decreased.  Some reading and writing occurred.

At the end of the school day, my hot classroom was cooler than the triple digits outside, so a few came back to blog.  I work with them as I sort though papers, charge iPads. and tack up a chart for tomorrow.A

After they leave, I walk outside to check on the desk that had milk left in it over the weekend. Gary, who is a custodian at two schools, is scrubbing out the smelly residue in the heat. He’s making sure my kiddos who share this desk will have a place to sit tomorrow. He has to leave for the other school by 6:00 pm, but he makes sure this is done.

Tomorrow is projected to be as hot, my air may not be fixed, and I’m betting sleep won’t come easily tonight.

So here I sit, hot and sweaty, trying to figure out a few beat the heat strategies..

I think of Gary. This guy gets the job done. No matter his health, the climate, or the type of mess, he meets challenges with composure and a smile. Never have I seen him in a bad place, mentally. Today he is my hero, not only for cleaning up something that was awful, but for doing what was necessary for student learning.

I’m off to the store for water, some new markers  (maybe we’ll find some poetry on our walls), and something for Gary. I’m hoping my air conditioning will be fixed before it gets too hot tomorrow, but I’m channelling Gary. Doing what needs to be done.

Thank you Gary for more than just that clean desk.

And thank you Anna, Tara, Betsy, Stacey, Dana, and Beth for Two Writing Teachers. Your posts guide so much of my teaching life and provide a space for necessary reflection. Post your own thoughts and read more slices here.