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.


17 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Thank You Gary

  1. I’m sweaty reading this! Man, I know this experience! My AC in my portable broke at the end of last year and the temp reached 92 or 93 in my classroom. The look on our wonderful librarian’s face as I tromped my special ed kids (at the end of the year) to the library to enjoy the AC. You can imagine the feeling–no one at the end of the year is nearly as excited and mentally tough to pretend they had a job to do. Gary would be my hero, too. This is the stuff of true grit! If you can get through this, the whole school year will be a breeze!

    • I had kids tell him he is our super hero! And I got him a venti lemonade ice tea this afternoon. No AC yet, but temps are suppose to drop to the 80s. That should help!

  2. Gotta love the Garys who keep the school world on track. Sounds like you have a gem of a worker there. I hope your day is cooler, but if not today, soon.
    BTW, your link goes to TWT, not here. 🙂

  3. This is just not the reality here in New York and I’m sorry that the start of your new year is off to a hard beginning. Here we need rain but no emergencies at the moment. I’m feeling for you now,

  4. Julieanne, here I am lingering in summer moments through the unveiling of the Summer Serenity Gallery and you are languishing in heat. So Sorry for you, Gary, and your learners. Think about the light at the end of the tunnel (although the heat spell may not allow you to do so). Share your summer serenity poem with the students to show them that you are published on a site that will be seen by many. I look forward to hearing about an end to the heat and a confirmation that you will join me on the next journey.

  5. I hope the AC comes back soon. I’ve seen the news, & know about your heat. We had no air in the other building before we moved to the new campus, so we spent a lot of time outside in the shade. What a nice thing to write about your Gary doing good things despite the heat, & to find something for him. Our building manager is always moving, keeps us all going. You’ve reminded me to make sure he knows how much we appreciate what he does! Thanks, Julieanne!

    • Tomorrow temps are predicted to drop a bit! Keeping my fingers crossed. I heard there are 2,000 service calls for AC failure in the district. Some nearby districts don’t have AC at all. Los Angeles is a desert that is well watered. Perhaps we need to take some cues from our Arizona and Nevada neighbors.

  6. Good custodians are so hard to find! You are so lucky. I wish I could send some of our wonderful fall weather to you. It has been in the 60’s and low 70’s! I can’t think of anything much worse than smelly hot kids…unless it is spoiled milk! Hope your week gets better!

  7. Well, I’ve seen you there after a very hot work day, still working with kids with passion and dedication. Remember the days we didn’t have air at all!? Ahhhh, the squirt bottle. Temps have been brutal, but your teaching continues, and the learning as kids see you still there, helping them negotiate, navigate and go on. Yay you, yay kids, and yay Gary. BTW, I saw our former custodian at a school in So. Central today! Fun to have friends in lots of varied places.

    • Ah yes. The fans from Home Depot, the papers flying, yes I remember it well. Our weather is usually so doable. Just a few weeks in the year that we have this problem. But oh, what a problem when we are in the midst of it!!

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