This book is dedicated to good teachers everywhere. Human nature dictates that from time to time, even the best of teachers may make mistakes. When they are made aware of such aberrations, good teachers will recognize and repair them. They will, at a moment’s notice, set things right with their students.
Bad teachers will refuse to acknowledge blunders and will engage in cover ups. Parents and caregivers need to be mindful that they may run into bad teachers anywhere, in any time period, who may be guilty of the same sins.
Of necessity then, in defense of their children, parents and caregivers must be the watch dogs, the whistle blowers, and the prime movers for bringing about meaningful change.
In her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua has set forth seven driving principals by which she governed her children. Her fifth rule is
“... (5) if your child ever disagrees with a teacher or coach, you must always take the side of the teacher or coach; ..."
[Chua A. (2011). New York, NY: PENGUIN BOOKS, P. 5.]
My advice states the contrary, and I offer convincing, concrete examples as to why you should
Never Trust a Teacher!
Remember to FLIP the book over to find
Twenty--Two Timeless Tips to Trump the System.
Before being critical of teachers, parents must prepare their children to be ideal students when they arrive at school. In this supplement to the larger book, I offer fundamental guidelines for parents and caregivers as they begin their childrearing years and gradually ease their children into the world of public school, always remembering that Literacy and Love Go Hand in Hand.
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About the Author
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Wise, Wonderful Wendy & Wanda
They were knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and lovingly responsive to children's needs.
Family members: Joy, Nick, Tony, Fay
In 1965, my two oldest children got off to a superb start in a nurturing preschool in the town of Cohasset, Massachusetts. Although the town is known for its affluent residents and seaside mansions, we were a family of slightly above average income, living in a remodeled gardener's cottage, once part of a large estate.
We were enamored with the town primarily for its proximity to the ocean, for its beautiful craggy coastline, and for its historic New England common in the center of the village.
Back then, one of the highest status symbols for Cohasset families with young children was sending a child to preschool at the Cohasset Community Center. Then known as a nursery school, it offered separate programs for three and four-year olds. The fees were reasonable. Admission criteria was simple: First come; first served.
Never an early riser, I made a great sacrifice for my children. When registration time came, I arrived at the center at sixthirty in the morning with two children in tow. Triumphantly, I sat down outside on the stone stoop, first in line, to wait for the nine o'clock opening.
I excitedly enrolled Joy and Nick in the corresponding age group programs. When my next two children were of preschool age, I followed the same procedure with the same results.
Ms. Wendy and Ms. Wanda had worked at the school for many years and were acclaimed by parents throughout the town. They were knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and lovingly responsive to children's needs. It was fascinating to witness the mutual admiration between teachers and students.
Learning and singing songs was a big part of the day along with creative play, dramatizations, role playing, and a variety of pre-reading and socialization activities that contributed emphatically to the children's early childhood development.
When looking back and ascribing reasons for my children's academic success, I always point to that first formal learning experience with those remarkable teachers where it all began.
Advisory: Choose a quality preschool with teachers who truly care about children.
Florida, Here We Come
Accordingly, we were a large family with little money and no jobs in sight, headed south to parts unknown.
Song: Floridays Singer, Songwriter: Jimmy Buffet
After their nursery school experience, Joy, Nick, Tony and Fay moved over to the Cohasset public schools. The two older children attended Joseph Osgood Elementary School and Deer Hill Middle School. Joy attended Cohasset Junior High School for two years.
All things educational went smoothly for each of them. I was a stay-at-home mom basking in the freedom that a distinguished school system with top-notch teachers could provide. My husband, Joe Ryan, the sole breadwinner, was a United States Merchant Marine ship master of ocean-going vessels that traveled all over the globe.
In late summer of 1970, Captain Joe retired from his job in an effort to find work close to home and lead a more traditional family life. This decision, although sudden when it occurred, had been under consideration for a few years. Still we had not managed to accumulate any substantial savings. As a result of this change that we both wanted, our finances plummeted, but our bills remained constant.
A realtor located a family to rent our house for eight months so that we could do a trial run in Florida. We believed we could live more economically in the warmer climate. Because we had been fortunate to obtain a substantial rental fee, money remained for other expenses after we made our monthly mortgage payment.
The tenant was delighted with our unusual, five-bedroom home with an ocean view from the third level. General Dynamics had brought him and his family to the Northeast on a temporary assignment and had provided all expenses for the relocation, including a housing allowance. By a stroke of luck, his time frame coincided closely with the extent of our planned absence from home.
That September, in the middle of packing for the trip, I learned that our fifth child would be joining us in the spring. As usual, I was happy about the upcoming arrival, but since my husband was by nature a worrier, I decided to defer revealing this news to him until after we reached our destination.
For the moment, Captain Joe had enough stress. Accordingly, we were a large family with little money and no jobs in sight, headed south to parts unknown. Had he been fully updated, I was certain that Captain Joe would have canceled our move without hesitation. We both knew that returning to a guaranteed income on the high seas was always an option.
Some might say that my decision seemed whimsical, but I believed it was important to explore a permanent lifestyle change in Florida. It was good for the children to have their father at home.
Fortunately, our immediate plans had fallen into place with relative ease. In all truth, I did enjoy the unconventionality of it all. Being an optimist, I had great faith that things would work out for us. The children were good travelers. They read much of the time and played games.
On our first journey south as a family, Captain Joe initiated a search for South of the Border signs, luring drivers and their passengers to Pedro's tacky tourist trap in South Carolina just south of the North Carolina border. Travelers of this route are familiar with the hundreds of billboards that line Interstate 95 for about one hundred fifty miles in either direction, north and south.
Deplorably, I realize now that we were unthinking and insensitive to Mexican stereotypes, portrayed in the advertisements which indicate nothing about the enormous diversity of people and cultures within Mexico. Finding the signs was simply a way of keeping the children amused and occupied on the long, monotonous drive.
By assuming the persona of Pedro, the American, non-Latino owner, gave unsolicited assistance to travelers through his signs, "Pedro's Weather Forecast: Chili today, hot tamale!"
Being naturally competitive, the children decided to award points. The winner was the person who called the most signs. I kept score. To earn a point, a player had to yell out, "South of the Border!" before anyone else. The trick was not to be deceived by a competitor's signs that contained the same vivid colors: orange, yellow, red, green and black.
Each sign was set back from the highway, often partially obscured from view by trees and other foliage — until just the right moment when it loomed large. If someone called out the sign for Thunderbird Motor Inn by mistake, that offender incurred a penalty. Players needed to exercise extreme caution. The children played this game for years whenever we drove back and forth to Massachusetts.
Usually, but not always, the older children got the better of the younger ones. Occasionally Captain Joe wedged himself into the act, deliberately distracting the children by pointing to phantom landmarks on the opposite side of the highway. At other times, he became a full-fledged, fierce competitor himself.
After the big buildup, we usually stopped briefly for gas at South of the Border, took a quick look around, used the clean rest rooms, and then went on our way. This ritual broke up the trip, provided comic relief, and was great fun for the kids.
Another travel tradition, born at the same time, was stopping at the Days Inn - Oasis Motel on Interstate 95, outside of Savannah, Georgia. Not in the caliber of the Ritz, to say the least, this well-maintained motel, nevertheless, seemed to be far ahead of its time with regard to its supersized, curvaceous swimming pool surrounded by lush plantings.
The focal point of the pool was an impressive waterslide with a small tunnel crafted of realistic, artificial rock in the middle of the slide. The children found it exhilarating. It was not a modern-day water park by any means. Yet, it had great appeal for my youngsters, and even today, their frolicking and cavorting at the Oasis conjures up colorful memories of their happy-go-lucky youth.
Shortly after our arrival in South Florida, we rented a custom-built, one-story house in Pompano Beach, directly across from the intracoastal waterway, one block from the ocean. An enormous banyan tree shaded the expansive corner lot from the scorching Florida sun. All of the rooms in the two-bedroom house were oversized.
High ceilings added dimension to the living room and adjoining family room. An attractive, light-colored brick fireplace was on one wall of the living room, floor to ceiling. With an unusually warm winter that year, however, we had no occasion to light a fire. Two children slept in one bedroom, and two children slept in the family room.
On the opposite side of the living room was a large screened patio with a separate entrance at the far side of the house. Adjoining the patio was an extra twin-sized bedroom and full bath. To our great advantage, the owners of the dwelling allowed us to rent out that section of the house to two middle-aged sisters from Michigan who, like us, were happy to spend the winter on Riverside Drive.
Our new tenants were good-natured, responsible, and independent. The layout of the porch offered privacy for both families. Conveniently for all, they kept to themselves, preoccupied with their own pursuits. Their rent was an unanticipated, most welcomed financial gain.
Captain Joe looked into operating a small sightseeing boat on the intracoastal waterway, but no opportunity opened up for that enterprise. In the nick of time, he began receiving his union retirement pension from the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (IOMMP).
After spending twenty-five years as a ship's officer, he had recently become eligible for that benefit. Having been a young retiree, he received that allotment for almost thirty years thereafter.
A little money here, and a little money there, kept us out of the poor house. When Joy and Nick were at school, Tony, Fay and I enjoyed carefree trips to the beach — while Captain Joe studied for the Massachusetts real estate exam.
A casual visit to the Pompano Beach municipal swimming pool unexpectedly initiated Joy and Nick into the world of competitive swimming under the guidance of their very first swim coach: twenty-five year old, patient and encouraging Coach Jim . The three other Ryan children would eventually take up that sport, and all of them stayed with it through high school. Thanks, Gentleman, Jim! Now my grandchildren are competitive swimmers.
Joy, Tony, and Fay competed on college varsity swim teams. Captain Joe became an avid fan of the activity and soon adopted Doc Counsilman's book, The Science of Swimming, as his bible. Studying and reading kept his mind off additional responsibilities and expenses to be incurred in the spring.
Deadbeat, Derelict Dave
How long, did he suppose, that this arrangement of neglect could continue?
Family members: Joy & Nick
Immediately after settling into our new surroundings in early October of 1970, we enrolled Joy and Nick in a Pompano Beach elementary school. Typical of area schools at the time, all classrooms were designed with one door that opened to an outside corridor and a courtyard with an array of Florida palm trees. This was a novel concept to us accustomed to the closed-in schools of New England.
Additionally, we learned that unlike the schools of Massachusetts and the school districts of many other smaller states, Florida's schools are regulated by counties, and not by cities or towns. Our beloved Cohasset was a self-contained school district all to itself, and in those days, the town had one elementary school, one middle school, one junior high school, and one high school,
In sharp contrast, Pompano Beach was just one of many cities that made up the School District of Broward County. Today, according to its website, this district with headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, is the sixth largest in the United States in terms of population.
It was in that system that I began my first of several clashes with an inferior teacher. That school was and still is an excellent school, but that one teacher forced me to realize that my role as a mother had expanded.
I needed to be not only the overall architect of my children's education, but the daily field operations manager as well. Up until then, I had naively thought that I could rely on my children's teachers to bear full responsibility for their instruction.
Although my education and that of my brother had been of primary importance to my parents, they had, without any qualms, delegated that responsibility to our teachers. They did not get involved with school assignments.
All of those educators had been competent, hardworking, and principled. But, for my children, it was a different story. From that moment on, I was forced to acknowledge that I could not place blind trust in my children's teachers.
In the middle of the third week in her new fourth-grade class, Joy came home to tell me that she had finished her assigned school work each day in less than two hours.
Her teacher allowed her to read a library book for the remainder of the day. She hadn't mentioned it earlier because she thought that the teacher was getting to know her ability and that this routine would soon change.
Besides, she loved reading independently. A fast reader, Joy had read several books in that short time, and she had made some new friends with whom to enjoy recess on the playground. School was all fun and games in sunny, southeastern Florida.
The next morning, after a night of worry with little sleep, I met Joy's teacher, Deadbeat Derelict Dave, as he stood by the classroom door waiting for his students to arrive. My husband accompanied me. We spoke to him with regard to Joy's daily activities in his class, and he confirmed her report of the previous afternoon.
He told us that Joy was a "gifted" child and that he was unable to provide the curriculum she needed. Whether she was officially labeled gifted would remain to be seen.
The reality was that her teachers in Cohasset had prepared her well — so well that she was far ahead of the fourth-grade Florida class she had entered. What bothered me most was that Deadbeat Dave had not been conscientious enough to notify us of this dilemma.
How long, did he suppose, that this arrangement of neglect could continue?
Heedlessly, he had made no effort to provide for his new student, nor alert her parents to details of the vast wasteland that was his class. He had chosen the path of least resistance.
After Captain Joe and I determined that Dave's class was no longer an option for Joy, we met with Dave, the guidance counselor, and the school's principal. The meeting was very cordial.
Dave was not the only fourth grade teacher. The guidance counselor could have recommended a transfer to another teacher at the same level, but after talking with Joy and carefully reviewing her records, she decided that the better choice would be to move her up to fifth grade.
Without a hitch, Joy had no difficulty keeping up with the new curriculum while it simultaneously demanded that she work to the best of her ability. She remained comfortable in that class for the duration of our time in Florida. Once she had moved beyond Derelict Dave's unresponsiveness, Joy spent several academically rewarding months at that Pompano Beach school.
Nick's case was different. In spite of being the top second-grade student, according to his teacher, his assignments still challenged him. Nick and his parents were pleased to learn that he earned the highest grade in his Florida history test in a subject completely new to him.
He also took the lead in a Thanksgiving performance that his class presented to the entire school. In his Massachusetts accent and wearing an extra tall, black Pilgrim hat, he delivered from memory a speech by Captain Myles Standish, the controversial defender of the Plymouth Colony. Indeed, Nick had represented his native state honorably in the pageant.
Excerpted from "Never Trust a Teacher Fight to Make Things Right!"
Copyright © 2017 Susan Fay Ryan, Ed.D..
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Wise, Wonderful Wendy & Wanda, 11,
2 Florida, Here We Come, 15,
3 Deadbeat, Derelict Dave, 21,
4 Milton, Massachusetts Grammar School Revisited, 25,
5 Zero Options: Back to Florida, 33,
6 Sesame Street Sadie: Shameless Shirker, 41,
7 Unintelligent Intelligence #1: Superficial Screener Sal, 51,
8 Bugsy the Befuddled Bug Man, 57,
9 Lessons from Bugsy and the Bad Brad, 65,
10 Dishonorable Honor Society Advisor #1: Do-Little-or-Nothing Debbie, 75,
11 Secret Slacker Sam & Others, 83,
12 Broken-Promise Buddy, 93,
13 Year-Round School: Randall the Retaliator, 99,
14 Paula the Perfect Pro, 117,
15 Manual-Bound Manny, 123,
16 Reign of Terror Tess, 133,
17 Dishonorable Honor Society Advisor #2: Malicious, Malevolent Max, 149,
18 Illiterate Liza & the Literati, 159,
19 Wretched Retread Reeba, 169,
20 Working the System: Reaching for the Stars, 181,
21 Unintelligent Intelligence #2: Rigid Robot Rob, 189,
22 Loans 'R Us, 205,
23 ¡Ay Caramba! #1: Middle School and High School Learners of Spanish, 217,
24 ¡Ay Caramba! #2: Older Adult Learners of Spanish & More, 227,
South of the Border, 237,
Family photo, 246,
Citations & Reference Notes, 247,