Happy Dad’s Day

I was unfairly blessed with an incredible dad whom I always knew loved me unconditionally. I know I’m not the perfect dad, but I’ve been blessed with three amazing daughters, all of whom make me enormously proud & none of whom I could imagine life without. If you’re half as fortunate as I am, remember to count your blessings & tell your dad you love him.
Over 25 years of teaching & coaching, I’ve known too many kids who lost their dads too soon, never knew their dads, or were stuck with jerks, deadbeats or monsters instead of decent dads. 

This weekend, keep these kids in your thoughts & prayers because it can be a painful holiday. 

For me, one of the best parts of teaching & coaching has been getting to know those kids & hopefully being able to be there for them when they’ve needed it. I could never replace a real dad, but I hope I’ve been able to help.  In many ways there are a lot of kids that I’ll always have in my heart, as if they’re my own. I know a lot of teachers think of their students as “their kids.” What a blessing that can be.

All year round why not try to be a friend or mentor to children without parents (or with broken parents)? You don’t have to be a professional teacher or coach to be a reliable, stable adult appropriately available to kids who need it. 

As the saying goes, “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

Psalm 68:5-6a “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.”

Artist Statement; for an example/demo assignment

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Graphite & pencil on 18×24 newsprint, 2017

Students had 5 days to work on their final self portraits. Between helping them and getting piles of grading for other other classes done I had to force my self to spend a class and a half to work on one myself. I kinda like the funky angle. What did we do before cell phones? Maybe I need to back off of telling them they should use mirrors instead of phones.

Below are my responses to some of the “self-critique” reflection questions that I assigned to my students for their semester final self portraits.

PRODUCT: What do you like most about your drawing? What are you most displeased with or disappointed in about your drawing?

I like this one much more than the one I did first semester with the mirror. That one is much less realistic, not to mention more static and flat. I love the from-above angle and the 3/4 view. I think that the shading helps it have a sense of form. While I kind of like the contrast between the linear texture of the hair and the shape/pattern of the flannel shirt, I think that without legs or hands, the shirt kind of becomes just an amorphic blob holding up my head.

PROCESS: What did you enjoy most about making this drawing?What was the most difficult challenge you faced in making this drawing?

It was an escape from the pressure of entering grades at the end of the semester and the chaos of eighth graders who are so excited about the end of the school year. If anything, I wish I’d been working on this with the rest of the Drawing class for the whole five days, and not just a day and a half.

PROCESS & PRODUCT: If you were the Art teacher, what grade (A, B, C, D, F) would you give to this drawing. Please explain or defend your choice. Why does it deserve that grade? What about it earned the grade you’d give?

I guess I’d give myself an A-/B+ It’s accurate an engaging, but just imagine how much better it could’ve been had I given it my full attention and commitment.

DEVELOPMENT & GROWTH; How do you think this drawing demonstrates that your drawing skills &/or perceptual skills are improving? In what ways have your skills advances since the beginning of the year?

I’m not sure it’s fair for me to answer this question since I’m not a student and I’ve been an Art teacher for 24 years now, but I am always amazed at how I can continue to learn and improve no matter how old I get. I also think sometimes that the less I think about what I’m doing and just do it, the better my results. I’ve heard baseball/softball coaches talk about this for pitchers- some thinks are mechanical rather than cerebral and you just have to “trust the process, don’t over-think.” Obviously my expression reveals how weary and cynical I’ve become in middle age. I had hoped that the unique angle, besides being thinning, might counter the curmudgeon with dynamic, even energetic angles and eye-flow.

EXIT SURVEY: What do you think are the biggest breakthroughs in your perceptual skills this year? How did your drawing skills improve? What are some things you feel like you learned this semester or will be able to take away from this class?

While I do feel like I’ve had some breakthroughs this year, I’m having trouble putting them into words.

But I have to say that I am very grateful for my high school Drawing, Painting, and Photography classes this year. I’ve been blessed with students who engage, participate and learn- not to mention many who have enormous amounts of talent! The icing is that almost all of them are just great people that are fun to be with. I feel like they’ve allowed me not only to continue to grow as an artist along with them, but to grow as an educator. I think many of them have taught me a few things, or at least reminded me of some things that teachers need to keep in mind while they’re teaching. There have been many very difficult and discouraging things about being in this profession this year, but none of them have come from the kids in my high school Art classes.

I truly hope and pray that many of them can continue to take Art classes the next year or two. Even if they can’t, I hope to use what they’ve taught me and the momentum they’ve given me for teaching 6-12th graders NEXT year. Thanks Drawing 2 Class- have a great Summer!

I’m So Sorry

I’m so sorry
You’re dealing with so much
I feel afraid to offer any commentary
because I don’t want to risk
offending you
or say anything
that will compound your pain

I want to say things
to heal
or help

but I know
nothing can
and I don’t want
anything that could be beneficial eventually
to be trivial or superficial or even insulting
because it comes at the wrong time.

I’ve been here before
in the line
at the viewing
or the luncheon
after the entombment
not knowing what to say
or how to say it
not wanting to put you through this
not even sure
how much eye contact
to make.

But I’ve been someplace
like where you are now
I know not the same place
but someplace cold
isolated
on display
in front of
what seems like
a never ending
stream of well wishers
yet so alone
aching
aching
aching
so that you just want
to be left alone
but under sedation
put into a coma
so that you
don’t have
to deal with it
anymore

I’m sorry
so sorry
not only for your loss
but because
I have no idea
what to say
or how to say it

I’m here
if you want me
but I won’t be
if you don’t
I just wish
I could tell which
because
it doesn’t see fair
to ask you
to have to tell me
one way or another

I’m so sorry

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New NAEA Online Portfolio

How to not waste your shots

Emotion is your enemy… Losing control of your emotions, at work as much as anywhere, is a losing proposition. As a leader, it’s important that you manage your emotions instead of letting them manage you.” ~John Wooden, UCLA Basketball Coach

“Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining.” ~Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States

Gotta tell ya, some politicians irk me. I mean make me so angry I just want to shout expletives. But my wife reminds me that I’m a Civics teacher, and a Sunday School teacher, and a parent.

Part of me is so full of angst when I see the groundwork for authoritarianism being laid that I feel like I HAVE to say something. After all, as a History Major in college I had British parliamentarian Edmund Burke’s words pounded into me- “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

But I think about the poor “spaz” on the elementary playground. So full of frustration that they must lash out at their bullies, but all they manage to do is flail around spasmodically- only giving the bullies and their schoolmates more material to ridicule, instead of injuring their tormentors.

Wouldn’t you rather get in one good knockout punch, thus delivering a powerful lesson in who not to mess with?

So, some advice, and believe me, this is a case of “physician heal thyself,” but nevertheless, advice on when and how to exercise one’s First Amendment rights rather than to abuse them.

  • Be articulate
  • Be specific
  • Avoid being coarse or profane
  • Attack policies, positions and actions- NOT persons, personalities, or appearances
  • Back up you assertions with facts (even though your opponents may not use them, or may believe in “alternative” facts).
  • Allow trolls to troll (and make themselves look ignorant and angry), or delete their comments, but don’t engage them.
  • Above all, speak out of your passion FOR something, based on principles, rather than get carried away with your anger against someone or something.

Granted, “do as I say, not as I do” may indeed apply here plenty of times. But this is still advice that I recognize that I myself need to follow.

For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” ~Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States.

 

 

 

Happy International Women’s Day

As a father of 3 daughters and a cheerleading coach for 23 years, who’s been blessed enough to have been married to a Proverbs 31 woman for 25 years- I’d like to think of myself as a feminist. 

Women are intelligent & important. 

They deserve respect as men’s equals and should have equal legal rights, status and opportunities professionally & economically. 

This isn’t radical. It isn’t “liberal.” It’s common sense. It’s what’s right.

#Resist anyone who belittles you, or brags about sexually assisting you or grabbing you by your womanhood. 

On re-reading ‘Slaughterhouse 5’

I’ve read Elie Wiesel, Victor Frankel, Cory Ten Boom, & Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Somehow, this is the easiest story to take. No doubt because the brutal reality is tempered with not only the seemingly light hearted science fiction, but also with the superficial & banal life of the American bourgeoisie. Yet we never realize that Vonnegut’s not making fun of Billy Pilgrim. He’s contrasting the suffering of war with the luxurious complacency of empire.

Like any good humorist, Vonnegut let’s us forget that this hell was real by making us imagine that it’s fiction. We’re comforted by imagining that the absurdity of his story is fabricated and temporary, when what we don’t realize is, he is only mirroring the permanent absurdity of reality.