Saturday, August 25, 2007

If American Idol Had Never Happened

From the Desk of Mrs. Margaret Bering, Principal

August 24, 2007

Dear Third Graders:

Welcome back for another year of learning and fun at Pretty Valley Grade School! I am delighted to introduce your new teacher, Mr. Clayton Grissom. Mr. Grissom is a graduate of the University of North Carolina.

When he came for his interview, I asked him what he thought he’d be doing in five years’ time and he jokingly said he hoped he would have MY job as principal in five years. Isn’t he a card? I really enjoyed his amusing “banter.”

Let me tell you a bit more about your new teacher. Mr. Grissom grew up right here in Raleigh. He sings in his church choir and enjoys performing karaoke on weekends. His hobbies include spending time with his mother, watching TV, and cruising through cyberspace on his computer. He likes traveling overseas because of the wonderful photography opportunities it provides. He lives in a townhouse with his roommate, Mr. Evan Toobly, whom some of your older brothers and sisters may know as the typing and shorthand teacher over at the high school.

I asked Mr. Grissom if he had any special messages for you third-graders and this is what he told me.

Mr. Grissom would like every student to come to school prepared with the right supplies. He suggests:

8 notebooks
8 pens
8 pencils
8 rulers
8 compasses and protractors
8 boxes of reinforecments

Mr. Grissom is an expert at American Sign Language. He will soon teach you a special hand signal to remind you when to quiet down and focus your attention on classroom activities. He calls it his “STFU” signal, which stands for “Stop Talking! Focus! Understand?” When Mr. Grissom gives you this signal, I hope you will kindly and courteously STFU!

Your new teacher describes himself as “strict, but fair.” Mr. Grissom told me, “I have certain unbendable rules. Students should come to school looking as though they take education seriously. Make sure to bathe and comb your hair everyday. Dress appropriately: no shorts, no sandals, no flip-flops. Keep your teeth white and shiny, especially if you are a minority. It’s also important to keep your body parts to yourself. Do not touch your classmates -- especially during cold and flu season. And keep your feet off other students’ desk. If you see anyone misbehaving, please tell me privately. This is not ‘tattling,’ it’s helping me to keep the classroom running smoothly. Students who report other students will be rewarded. Finally, for those of you taking the bus home, please line up and get on the bus in a speedy and orderly fashion. I have neither the time nor the interest in loitering around that bus at the end of the day. If students cannot follow these basic classroom rules, I will have to call your mother and sperm donor in for a parent-teacher conference.”

When I asked Mr. Grissom to describe some of his forthcoming lesson plans he offered this sneak preview:

VOCABULARY: Mr. Grissom will begin each morning with a new “word of the day” for students to learn.

MATHEMATICS: Do the following problems without using a calculator:

1) If Billy brings Teacher two Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Teacher says he expects Billy to buy a total of eight, how many more doughnuts will Billy have to buy?

2) If Susie attends a concert at a 5000 seat stadium and only 1200 seats are filled, how many empty seats are there?

3) If you and five friends each voted five times in a “favorite singer” poll for three days in a row, how many votes would your favorite singer receive? This assignment is due on September 2.

ART: Use your imagination and create a drawing of Teacher dancing with a three-legged gorilla or being abducted by turnips. The due date for this assignment remains undetermined.

SCIENCE: For our animal studies unit, I’d like you to make a list of all the body parts of a cat. Feel free to experiment on your pet cat at home. Make sure to include internal organs on your list.

MUSIC: Each week we will learn a new song in class. It’s important to memorize all the lyrics. If you forget the words, or have to write them down on your desk to remember them, you will be punished. Also, sing the lyrics as if you understand them and feel them. No showboating or “glory-noting” -- these are the hallmarks of an amateurish attention-grabber and not a true singer.

READING: Students are encouraged to check out books from the school library. Some of Mr. Grissom’s favorite children’s books include:

Where’s Waldo?
Flat Stanley
Honk the Moose
Daniel Boone: Man, Hunter, Adventurer
The Moves Make the Man

DRAMA: Mr. Grissom has agreed to write the script for our Christmas pageant this year!

Now that you know a bit more about Mr. Grissom, I’m sure you are looking forward to spending the coming months in his classroom. He has informed me that IF you are a very good class, you might even get a visit this semester from the famous singer “Cher.”

I’m sure you agree that Mr. Grissom certainly stands for “Quality In