I work in one of ten elementary schools here in Smythe, Oregon. We are lucky to be the home of Oregon State University, which multiplies our population by about three gazillion every September, and changes our small town “feel” to one of big-city, crazy, amazing youthful expectation.
The official population is about 40,00 in the downtown area, and probably doubles in size with the surrounding townships. Bitchy’s high school enrollment (grades 9 - 12) was about 2,500 students, and three years after her graduation it remains about the same.
Our elementary schools continue to grow in size, and each of the kindergarten teachers in our particular school learned last week that we each would be starting the year with 26 students in our classes. That’s right; twenty-six. (@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@) ( In case you wondered what that LOOKS like. ) Any teacher who has worked in kindergarten KNOWS that the real feel for 26 is 100.
We were overjoyed when we received the email the other night letting us know that our school board had approved the hiring of four new teachers, one of whom would be joining us in kindergarten. (I’m sure you heard my screams of joy Tuesday night about 9:45 p.m.? And no, it wasn’t THAT, it was because of the new teacher; honest.)
We were introduced to Chloe Smithjones yesterday, and I instantly remembered her! She was an absolutely adorable recent graduate of our Oregon State University student teaching program, and coincidentally had been in our building for a two-month stint for a teacher on medical leave. Sure, she looks twelve, but that's a brilliant disguise on her part. She has weathered the insanity of a new school, new room, new EVERYTHING with an amazing maturity and a great sense of humor.
The four of us gathered today for another marathon meeting to outline our year, our fall, our first week and our first day. We talked about supplies, class lists, resources, field trips, literacy centers, resources, parent volunteers, recess, rules, philosophies, after-hour cocktail recipes, funny stories from the kids, fights with our own children and favorite foods to eat when stressed. We covered only the most important stuff.
It wasn't until a friend came into the room and I introduced her to Chloe that the light bulb went off. She said to my friend (whose daughter Saucy graduated with Bitchy), "Hey! Is your daughter Saucy? My brother graduated with her!"
I sat, feeling just as POLISH as I really am. (Which is a LOT.) She not only went to our University, but graduated from our local high school.
"Oh my God." I said. "Your brother is Sam? Sam Smithjones? He took Bitchy to the Junior Prom. Good grief, we're practically..."
"Sisters!" She shouted with a smile.
And it was at THAT moment, I knew.
She's not only cute...but brilliant, as well.
(She must be MUCH older that she looks.)