Seven Days down and Seventh Grade!

I was up early this morning as storms rolled through the area. Ivy and I reflected on the week so far, and summer in general.  I was reading a blog post this morning and I wanted to comment; this post is what came out of it. Seven days down and sixty-three to go; so many projects, so many books, so much to do, and so little time – time to think, read, write, and grow.

We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves. Lynn Hall

After a career in the restaurant business, I went back to school to learn how to be a teacher, and in the process, I was transported back to childhood. I talk to my younger brother, Warren, often and he asked me a few years ago if I ever thought of seventh grade or growing up, I told him I thought about it all of the time. There is never a day when I don’t think of growing up or some part of growing up.

I can remember all of my grade school teachers, though I probably can’t spell them correctly, they are, in order, Mrs. Pricadik, Miss Johnson (who got married and was called Mrs. Fineri), Mrs. Bass, Mrs. Drabek (who has, inexplicably, a school named for her), and Mrs. Drew who was very close to retirement or should have been. Junior high is a little hazy but I can remember a few of the names Burns, Guinn, Turner, and Priest, as well as Gilbert, Atlee, who I have written about in a previous post. And in high school I had a few memorable teachers and I remember them without having to look in the yearbook – Drachenberg, Bass, Wright, Matney, and Clark. I remember being in Mrs. Clark’s freshman English class only because I dated her daughter for a couple of years beginning when I was a junior, though I have no recollection of anything I learned in the class. Sadly, I had the same recollection when I dated her daughter. I don’t believe it is because of her class, more likely it was because I was a freshman and didn’t need to learn English.

I can remember all of the names I mentioned for things that happened in class, for what I learned in the classroom, or what I learned from a mistake I made and the grace of a teacher. In seventh grade, I was not a very good student. I struggled with homework completion and just plain ‘getting it.’ Part of it had to do with my family situation and the other part had to do with me, motivation. In seventh grade, my parents, after thirteen years of marriage, decided to divorce. Immediately after the divorce, my dad moved to Saudi Arabia and I had no father in my life. I wrote letters but, the letters I wrote were mandated by my mom and really not very meaty, just what was happening and what I planned to do (I recall). When he wrote back, it was not a reply but about things which were going on in his life. Though, I didn’t save the letters from that time, I did save letters he wrote a few years later from late high school, college and sporadically until his death almost two years ago. I have gone back and read few of them, I can recall reading them and the place I was in my life. But, my point is my mom was alone, had three boys at home, all within three years of each other, and I was the oldest and just entering adolescence. Yikes, talk about a recipe for disaster.

Dulles Jr. High Vikings - seventh grade gold - can you find me?

But, I digress, I remember Mrs. Priest, my seventh grade math teacher. Math was not my forte and that is putting it mildly. It was difficult and I often did not complete my homework. I remember one day in class when I was sharing a magazine I had brought to school with other students during instruction, she caught me, and she took it away. I know, you are thinking a magazine, harmless, but it happened to be Sports Illustrated and not just any issue of Sports Illustrated but the swimsuit issue! She took it away and asked me if I had my homework and I replied, ‘yes, but it is not finished.’ All I wanted was the magazine back and she had me, she knew I struggled in class and in front of whole class, she offered me a deal – if I would have my homework for two weeks, straight, I could have my magazine back. Deal, motivation solved! For the next two weeks, I was a math homework machine. I do not remember if it was correct, but I remember I made it to the final day and, yes, you guessed it – I had not finished my homework. I don’t know why or what happened, but I didn’t have my homework. When it came my turn my to turn in my homework and call out my score, I had to fess up and say, ‘Didn’t do it.’ A sigh came across the class and I recall hearing someone say, ‘all you had to do was finish your homework, one more time, and you’d get the magazine back.’ They were rooting for me and I never saw that magazine, again. I don’t know what grade I earned in math that year, probably a C, I did pass on to eighth grade and on to high school and college, eventually I got math, thankfully. When I think back to the event, I wonder what I was thinking and that is the point, I wasn’t thinking and that is the crux of adolescence.

This past year, William struggled in seventh grade math and thankfully, we don’t subscribe to Sport Illustrated. William got through seventh grade math and earned a B. He earned it by working hard and doing his homework.  I remember the lessons I learned the hard way and try talking to him about what I have learned; sometimes, though, you just have to learn the hard way. The past seven days have been busy, really. Yesterday, William and a friend and I worked in the basement pulling down the drop ceiling and hauling it to the curb. Today the garbage man comes and hauls it away, forever. The work is part of a larger project we have for the summer. Seven days down and sixty-three to go; so many projects, so many books, so much to do, and so little time – time to think, read, write, and grow. Making the Days Count, one day at a time!

7 thoughts on “Seven Days down and Seventh Grade!

  1. I am glad I came across your blog – it has inspired me to do a few other things as well…. the first post I read was the The Giver post and I read it to my class. I have switched from mechanical pencil to Ticonderoga, although the test will be at the end of summer, and I am reading your blog. Thinking is so underrated.. if we would only think more, perhaps we could do lesss and think more! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Hi Clay!

    I’m so glad my blog post inspired you to write a more complete reflection of your seventh grade stand-off with your math teacher — and explain how the lessons carried over into your own parenting.

    “When I think back to the event, I wonder what I was thinking and that is the point, I wasn’t thinking and that is the crux of adolescence.”

    I love this line!

    In case anyone is interested, you can read the post that inspired Clay here:


  3. I am glad you are following along! When I went back to school, education classes made me think of being back in school… I distinctly remember juinior high – there was a lot going on… friends changing, maturing, and family changes. Also, I have an odd memory for dates and events. As for where I am in the picture – you’ll find out today! 🙂

  4. Didn’t know you had so much trouble with math in your youth. You did fine as a GM of a restaurant! Hope you don’t give your students the “Oh for God’s sake” look when they don’t catch on quickly to what you’re teaching, but I’m figuring you don’t. How could you remember all those teachers?! BTW – which kid are you in the football picture?

Thanks for visiting MtDC. How are YOU Making YOUR Days Count?