I am hardly back in the saddle again, but for the past two weeks I have had more fun than a man deserves serving as a substitute teacher at Brother Rice High School.
I began teaching English in 1975 and continued joyfully for twenty years, but obligations as father and husband required that I leave the classroom for the more lucrative position of Director of Development.
This is a new position in education and rather important one at that, particularly in private and Catholic education. The Director of Development is generally the chief fundraising officer answerable to the President and the Board of Directors. bring in new streams of cash from grants, individual donations and sometime special events. I ran two special events at La Lumiere School, one a success and the other barely broke even, one special event at Bishop Noll Institute that brought in $10,000 when the goal was $20,000 and no events at Leo High School that could be termed 'special events' in the traditional sense - elaborate dinners, or Star focused concerts. Thank God and Bob Foster, my CEO for fifteen of my twenty years at Leo.
I write a good grant and I can be a pretty good person to put the bite on a person with the capacity to make a difference,
I was a Department of one at Leo. I tracked gifts, wrote letters, appeals, went out to call upon donors, researched new sources, courted new sources and hit on news sources - sometimes with success and more times than not received the " while your mission is a truly deserving one, at this time, we would like you and your mission to help young urban men receive a faith-based education in a safe environment to go and . . ." Stuff like that, or a nicer version.
Leo High School has a unique culture that is male, honest, uncompromisingly straight-forward, tough, results oriented and proudly successful. Fools might be suffered gladly, but will have only a blink on their resumes and CVs, if Leo Men have any say in the matter.
There is no BS, so don't attempt any. BS is largely the domain of Director's of Development in too many schools and DDs, or IAs,* do all pie-chart and Stephen Covey fog-horning all too often, net work for new jobs and then job hop all over the philanthropic landscape - many ending their days as consultants with Institutional Advancement companies.
To me the job was an extension of my vocation as a teacher - do my homework, try to explain what exactly needs to get done and remain honest, help the students first, the parents second, the Alumni next and of course myself. I had a ball. I raised some money. I started boilers on winter mornings and drove a van and picked up students as well. Sold Beanie Babies and Ty Warner Products as well as sweatshirts, T-shirts, hats, blankets and do-dads to the Alumni.
I missed teaching. I asked my old high school Buddy Kevin Burns to give me a shot and he did. Kevin is President of Brother Rice. Thanks, Kev!
Now, I am trying to get my sea-legs back. You do not plunge back into a room full of adolescent males going through four stages of human growth, as well as academic placements, five to six periods a day, at age 64 and expect to greeted as Good Old Chips! When I was 22, I needed to earn the trust and respect of young people only a few years minor to me and that was a job of work.
I have witnessed career "re-treads' give teaching a try after successful careers in management, sales and engineering and most ended with middle aged men and women running out the door with their hair on fire and a shout of "Mail Me my Damn Check!"
Teaching is and should be a bitch and a half.
Come prepared - do your homework, expect to be challenged about everything, remember that these are kids and not your own and that you're here to teach something - not change their lives or add to your Face Book friends trove.
Kids smell fear and BS from a great distance. Be afraid, a healthy anxiety is a good thing, but never try to BS your way through anything. If you do not know something, admit it and tell them you will find out and then deliver immediately.
I have taught English, History, Spanish and Band to no ill effect. Frankie, Antonio, Reggie, Packy, Liam, Josh and Mr. Veal** have yet to take offense to my methods, or my lessons.
I have been blown away by the wonderful manly deportment, friendliness, general knowledge and musicianship of the young Crusaders.
The band is something else and reminds me of the Bishop McNamara music program when it was under the direction of Kevin McNulty and Joel Hawkinson. Concert band, Philharmonic, Choral and beginning band are all in task and on message.
The halls are empty of students when class begins and I have yet to witness any tardiness, absenteeism, or ungentlemanly behavior whatsoever.
I took a number of photos with my Old Guy phone and they have yet to appear in my e-mail box.
Safe to say. I will need Frankie, Antonio, Reggie, Packy, Liam, Josh and Mr. Veal to give me a hand. I had to use stock photos on this go-around -sorry. I love teaching again.
* DD - Director of Development; IA Institutional Advancement person
** Mr.Veal is a trumpet man who broke his left wrist in last week's Loyola game.