Day One

Getting up at 6 a.m. and having to drive to work are new experiences. I haven’t gotten up this early since 2007 and the Weekly World News. And in 30+ years of professional life, I have never needed to drive to work before. Given the volume on I-95, it was recommended to be on the road no later than 6:30 and the volume confirmed that. In future days, I won’t need to be here until later although it seems I may need to maintain this routine to ensure on time arrival.

The various administrators made me feel immediately welcome and as they got settled, I was presented with well-prepared documentation. Darien has an eight day rotating schedule that has one elongated class per day and drops one class per day. So, even though today is Monday, it is a D-day schedule, beginning at 7:40 and ending at 2:17.

They were fretting over the lack of half & half so I volunteered to run out for it, immediately ingratiating myself to the staff. Upon my return, the school was bustling with students filling the halls. This is a relatively new building and has a spacious feel, and the principal brought up to the English department offices where a desk had been set aside for to use as a base. I immediately met faculty including the former editor of the Fairfield Minuteman who I recognized (and who recognized me from parties at a mutual friends’) and someone who graduated Fairfield High with Katie.

As I settled in, I toured the bookroom and was pleased with the variety of titles and how contemporary some were, including at least one graphic novel (Persepolis 2 for those keeping score at home). And even though I have been reading all my life, I felt under-prepared as I saw classics I never read or contemporary fiction by authors whose names I did not recognize. I see I will need to revise my To Read list, especially for the summer.

The building is sprawling, organized into wings by subject area so near the English/Social Studies faculty hub are corridors filled with appropriate class spaces. Only at the end of one section did I find a cluster of lockers, a real sign of school. I noted in many classes, backpacks are neatly aligned against one wall. The students appeared attentive, not bored and the faculty engaged.

As I got to meet the faculty and hear what they teach, they were welcoming and several were more than happy to have me shadow them as my future schedule allowed. It was pointed out that this was an odd week to begin in that the second semester was ending with testing, already disrupted once by Friday’s snow. Now there’s concern this week’s blizzard was likely to throw the schedule into further turmoil. Still, I am taking the time to get walk around, get the lay of the land so to speak, and take care of the odd administrative tasks such as getting a faculty parking permit and figuring out how to access the wireless. I note many teachers work off their own laptops and do not have school computers in their office space.

When it appeared a history teacher had to leave, I was given a chance to shadow my fellow intern, Joe. Instead, the teacher remained so we both shadowed and watched part of a documentary about the Iraq War and it was interesting to see how engaged and informed the students were based on their comments and questions.

The challenge, it seems, will be adjusting my eating habits. I normally don’t eat until 10:30 most days so the notion that we’re having lunch around 11 is a shock to the system. I will see how this goes and then make alterations. At least I got a chance to chat with some of the staff to learn more about how things go here.

I finished the day by sitting in with one teacher as she taught first a ninth grade section than an honors senior class where they discussed James Joyce’s “The Dead”. Watching her interact with the students despite the differing subject matter was enlightening. Her enthusiasm, even for Joyce whom I don’t care for, was palpable and I left impressed.

And so, one day is down and the future is looking pretty bright.

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