Back to School

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Me, Jamie Gaynor, and Amanda Nichols

No, I’m not going back to teach! But while I was in Salinas for a few days, I wanted to go see me teacher friends and students at University Park. I got there early so I could get some hugs before everyone got into their lessons. I know how much an unexpected visitor can mess up the rhythm of a class!

I apologize for the shortage of photos in this blog. I was so happy being IN the moment, I didn’t want to spoil it by DOCUMENTING it. Fortunately, Pete Andresen, who has been a parent at University Park for 23 years, happened to take this delightful shot. Thanks, Pete!

I started in the office, to see Mrs. Stoopes. She makes sure all the paperwork (now, computer work) is done properly. She is such a dear lady and I have known her for so long! The office has been almost totally re-configured…the kindergarten classes have been moved to the big pod where I used to teach, and those big classrooms are now the teacher’s lounge and workroom. There is even what they call a PD room, for Professional Development. It’s set up with a screen, projector, and tables.

In the back of that building the old staff room has been turned into offices for Mrs. Padilla and Mrs. Laird, our Principal and Vice Principal. They are beautiful, bright and much easier to work in, I’m sure.

While I was there, I chatted with Mrs. Laird and made arrangements to visit a former student. B is such a fine fellow but has had a difficult time in school. With everyone’s help, especially Mrs. Laird and his Tucci aides, Daniel and Jessica, B is becoming his own best person. It was wonderful to have some time to just sit, eat a doughnut, and visit with him. I hope we will stay in touch!

I visited the new kindergarten rooms in the pod. I admit, I was skeptical about putting all those little noisemakers in one space, but it seems to be working. Mrs. Andersen and Mrs. Bateman are total professionals and know how to manage small people. It was good to see them.

In the Resource Room of the pod, I found one of my favorite people ever…Richelle Drollinger. She has taught special education and Resource for a very long time, and has been an advocate for kids who learn differently for her entire career. I love and respect her for it. She also has a very sweet smile.

As I walked around campus, I saw former colleagues, all of whom are in different classrooms because of the kindergarten switch. Everyone is still finding their feet and unpacking boxes, but the kids all seem happy and glad to be at school.

In the cafeteria I visited with Debi Massey, who is a teacher’s aide and also has the difficult job of running the lunchroom, and Miss Annette, who makes sure the kids get good food. These ladies work so hard and make the school better everyday.

Recess time came and I got to catch up with more students. Aaron has been back to Las Vegas, and got to be a ring bearer at a wedding in Mexico. I was happy to hear that Ramon is still drawing. It seems many of the boys have given up other activities to play Fortnite. This worries me, for lots of reasons. First because it is a game about war, and I would rather they practice peace. It also sets up all sorts of responses that will not serve them well in real life, where they will have to return when the game is over. I do not understand why their parents are willing to spend money to do such a disservice to their sons.

After more hugs and chats, I realized I needed to take off if I was going to get downtown in time for lunch with Pat van Noy, so I said goodbye to my old home away from home. My 28 years there were some of the happiest, and hardest, I have ever had.


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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