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  • She and I were hired the same record hot summer to work for a private school.

    At orientation I spotted her right away as being nearly the same age as me and having the "I'm not from Texas" look on her face that also matched mine. I had lived in San Antonio for a little over a year, and while I was still getting regularly lost on any outing, I had developed a keen sense for picking out other transplants from a sea of proud natives.

    'Why in hell would you move from Maine to San Antonio in the summer?' flew out of more than one person's mouth when she'd chant the answers to the questions that all the newbies were asked: Where are you from? Where did you go to school? How long have you been teaching? How do you like Texas? What sports can you coach?

    My list of answers were: Virginia, Virginia, never taught before, fine and possibly duck-duck-goose...I was a champ in primary school.

    She had taught before and I had not. After my first day with 33 students in my first class of the day and a growing existential fear in my stomach that I didn't know what I was doing here or how I'd arrived at the point of being the authority figure, I decided I would take my planning periods to sit in on other teacher's classes.

    I made the rounds. Art teachers, English teachers, a math class, a history class, a few religion classes and then I moved on to science. Everyone had a different style of teaching, some were more open to me just hanging out in the class, and the students responded to all of them differently. Science has always had a soft spot in my heart, even though I am an art teacher, I am always thrilled to solve problems, observe the natural world and rejoice in learning something new and useful.

    Carly taught middle school sciences. And it soon became my favorite place to stop in when I had a free moment. Students and I would capture bugs, scorpions and odd things just to bring to her to show off to the classes populated with wide-eye-filled faces.
    Students also found that hanging out in Ms. Weinberg's room was a choice activity. There was so much cool shit to look at. Whale bones, centipedes in alcohol, bird nests, shells, a cat skeleton, plants, an inflatable moose head, buoys from Maine, and a vast collection of hyper-illustrated books lined the walls. The classes would play review games in which it was rather difficult for me not to join in. Students were always working in the community garden, catching insects, drawing internal organs, cutting up livestock organs, and learning by interactive hands-on activities. And, just by sitting in the classroom, you could tell it was sticking to their porous gray matter.

    Her way of keeping attention while also keeping order within the classroom gave me more than one useful lesson to file away and use on my unruly highschoolers. I cannot thank her enough for her influence on me as an educator.
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