It took me weeks to sit down with Peralta first grade teacher Stephen Davis. I was beset by bouts of extreme laziness. I got better.
The Quiet Magic of Stephen Davis
On his first day as a substitute teacher, Stephen Davis, who had majored in Philosophy, confidently walked into a high school English class in Pinole with the highest of hopes for deep, intellectual conversations.
It did not go well.
Lucky for us, day two proved more satisfying. He was assigned a Kindergarten class in El Sobrante, team taught with another teacher. Mr. Davis knew immediately knew that elementary school was the place for him. “They listened to me, and it was fun hanging out with them.”
By that time, Mr. Davis had already been searching for the epiphany of what to do with his life for several years. After college, he spent a year backpacking around Europe and the Middle East, waiting for his professional path to become clearer. It didn’t.
Following his stint abroad, he worked in Yosemite for nine months, thinking that perhaps some solitary time in the back country would make things clearer. Didn’t happen — at least not in the way he intended. But he did meet his wife, so no complaints there.
Next, he turned to graduate school to clear things up, waiting tables to support himself while studying (even more) Philosophy. During that time, he had a friend who turned him on to substitute teaching, and … you already know where that went.
Not that it was ever obvious that he would become a teacher. “All the way through school, I was the quietest kid,” he shared. “I won an award for being the shyest student. I never raised my hand. In high school, I played basketball, but I was too shy to walk to the bleachers before or after my game. I would wait until halftime in order to easily blend in with the crowd.”
Traces of that childhood shyness are not hard to imagine in the present day Mr. Davis. He’s still a quiet person, though it’s more philosophical than pathological. “In class, I find that the less I talk, the less the students talk.” First graders, it turns out, do take behavioral cues from the teacher.
“The best thing about them,” he offered, “is that they’re always entertaining, and bundles of energy. And they have a certain gullible innocence — they believe my magic. They’re not jaded. Even if I’m feeling tired, they wake me up. Days go by so fast. I want and need just another hour with them every day.”
Up and coming for the first grade are two signature projects. First up: the Underground Railroad Unit. “The students learn about this project and they dive right in. They're never too young to learn about even these painful periods in our history and how people like Harriet Tubman fought injustice and persevered.”
After that comes the perennial favorite Rainforest Unit and Project, which most of them already know about from older siblings. “I’ve already told my students that we’ll be “flying” to the rainforest, on Air Davis.” Some of them, perhaps, do believe him. The magic is there, either way.
As though the bacon shortage weren't bad enough. This just in.
The Babysitter Shortage
A babysitter shortage looms in your near future. It looks to hit right around the night of March 18th, 2017.
It is estimated that the total amount of babysitting available in the middle of next month could be as much as 20% less than expected. Furthermore, there is talk of a near doubling of the cost of babysitting, squeezing hopeful parents and making the overall cost of Child-FreeTime (CFT) skyrocket.
Presumably, this will mean a shortage of nearly all babysitting hours, including Babysitters Too Young To Stay Past Midnight and Sitters with Driver’s Licenses, but not the cherished Free Grandparental Babysitters (hi, Mom — love you).
Brief Babysitter Shortage Q & A
So You Won’t be Caught Unprepared
Why will there be a babysitter shortage?
The reason for the shortage is that it was easier to accept a misogynist than a woman in the White House the surge in demand due to the Peralta Auction.
Did global warming cause the babysitter shortage?
No. That's silly.
Is the babysitter shortage a good thing?
Of course not. Staying home all the time is baaaaaad for your soul. The Broadcast cares about your soul.
What are the broader implications of the babysitter shortage?
A pronounced upswing in stir craziness and spousal sniping obvious to even passing observers.
But you, readers, are forewarned about the predicted mid-March babysitter-pocalypse, so you can lock in your supply now.
Why am I joking about this?
This is the Peralta Broadcast. What did you expect?
Reading Partners @ Sankofa
Psst. Wanna to double a kid’s rate of learning?
What if you knew that all it would take was one hour of your week, one-on-one with a kid in our community, as a Reading Partner? Last year, nearly nine in ten of Reading Partners’ K-2 students brought their reading skills up to grade level. It’s hard to argue with results like that.
A link in School Board member Jody London’s website introduced Ken Rice both to the Reading Partners program and the idea of volunteering at Sankofa.
Ken, currently heading the leaderboard for ‘Longest Time as a Peralta Parent,’ has been volunteering at Sankofa for the past year, where demand for tutors far outstrips supply. He sees his involvement there as a basic equity issue. “Unlike Peralta, most of Sankofa kids are reading below grade level. I hoped I could help a few of those kids.”
“Their program is highly structured which I appreciate since I have no experience teaching kids how to read. Reading Partners has a specific lesson plan for each session. There is a site coordinator at Sankofa to handle any problems and coordinate the sessions,” he shared.
You can also ask Ken more about his experience.
- Feb 17: Chewing community. Stewing community. Suing community. There are a lot worse things you could do with community. Brewing Community: A Love Affair. After drop-off by the 63rd St entrance to the school. Coffee, morning treats, gab.
- Feb 20: In honor of former presidents and also in recognition of some people's need for a 3-day weekend to blow us out of the February doldrums, no school.
- March 18: 2017 World's Fair, AKA Peralta Auction. This is just a warning shot across the bow. More info to follow, over and over, inexorably.
SHINY NEW CONTEST
Bob Dylan, American songwriter, singer, artist, writer, and winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Find the lyrics to a line in a well known Dylan song cleverly hidden in this issue. Hopefully, not too cleverly, but time will tell. Bragging rights and a Peralta mug to the first to send the correct answer to this address. I know this contest unfairly favors Dylan fans. Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.
Look Who Wants Your Two Cents
Your School Board is looking for a new Superintendent, ideally one who will stay here and do good for a long time. They're also hoping you will share your opinion on the qualities, experience, and other factors that are important to you in the next Superintendent. If you have already taken this survey, wow, you're quite the overachiever. And thank you for that. If this is news to you, then by all means, go for it. Superintendent search news + the survey in languages other than English available here.
If you've got school or class announcements, or interesting community events that you'd like me to share with your fellow Peralta-ites in my special Peralta Broadcast-y way, contact me. I publish every two weeks or so, depending on how my near-monastic vow of sloth is going at that time. Kudos, complaints and your bright ideas for future posts can go to the same address.