Misconceptions of incompetence
Ruth Suckow was an early- to mid-twentieth century American writer. She is worth a Google search and a Wikipedia read. One of Ms. Suckow’s short stories, “A Start in Life,” was published in school literature texts during the latter half of the twentieth century.
“A Start in Life” recalls an episode of a poor country girl named Daisy who was “hired out” to work for a well-to-do family that lived a respectable distance from her home. This is both her first time away from home and her introduction to the world of work.
It is a somber story about how Daisy got off to a rough start in life. She was initially excited to leave home and begin a new grown-up adventure. Unfortunately, she learned quickly that the ideal of being grown up and the reality of the world of work are significantly different.
You see, at home Daisy was important to her momma and her siblings. She was loved and cared for.
As a hired worker to a family from a higher economic and social bracket, Daisy quickly learned she was only important for doing what she is told.
The story ends with a heartbroken Daisy all alone in her employer’s house picking up scraps of fabric from the floor while the family has gone for a ride in the car. She cries, but silently, as she has already learned after only a day or so in her new situation that there’s no one to hear her, and even if there were, they would not care.
I remember the young idealism with which I entered the teaching world. Like so many educators, I’d wanted to be a teacher most all my life. I played school religiously much longer than would have been thought reasonable by most. I knew this and kept it secret from all but my family and a very few close friends.
My mother, God rest her saintly soul, just left me to do my thing. She accepted me the way I was.
Other family members, however, suspected something was wrong with me for being so obsessed with playing school, and an acquaintance told me that I would never be able to stop. I told this acquaintance that the day I graduated from high school would be my last day of playing school — from then on I would concentrate on getting qualified to do it for real!
True to my word, I never played one day of school after my high school graduation. I never had the desire to do so again, and even if the desire had existed, I was too busy with college studies at Lincoln Memorial University to make the time.
My time at LMU only whetted my appetite to get out into the real world and teach. LMU was the perfect place for the perfect time in my life. It to this day remains the most accepting place I have ever known. No matter economic, ethnic, or other differences, everyone pretty much accepted everyone else for who they were. To this day, I never visit LMU that someone does not know me by name.
So I left LMU in the spring of 1987 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and certification to teach English and history in grades 7-12. Now comes reality.
First of all, there was not one single job at Union County’s only high school, not even for a janitor. Thirty-three years ago state teacher licensing was not as stringent as now, so I was hired to teach third grade at Luttrell Elementary on a waiver. I recall having three years to obtain elementary certification, so I did so while concurrently working on my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Supervision.
The same acquaintance who told me that I’d never be able to stop playing school told me when he heard I was going to Luttrell, “You won’t be able to teach there. That place is awful. They’ll probably throw erasers at you.” Thankfully, Luttrell was not that bad.
I entered the teaching world with several misconceptions. I assumed all teachers were on the same page and supported each other in concerted efforts to wipe illiteracy from the face of the earth.
I have been privileged to work for the past 33 years with some of the profession’s best educators. There has been that handful, however, who had their own best interests at heart.
I have seen teachers pick on other teachers, connive to get the best students in their classes, work behind the scenes to have their colleagues reassigned so their children could have the teacher of choice, and the list of pettiness could go on and on.
Thankfully, such people are definitely in the minority. I owe much of the success I had as a teacher to two wonderful ladies who took me under their wings.
The late Diane Jessee got me started and showed me the basics of how to manage an elementary reading program and maintain discipline. Deanie Carver helped me refine my teaching and improve my self-confidence.
I also assumed all school administrators supported their teachers so long as they were working hard to teach their students. I was once unexpectedly reassigned to a different grade. When I questioned the move in a faculty meeting, I was rudely told, “You don’t want to get into it now!” When we “got into it” in the principal’s office after the meeting, I was told that there had been parental concerns that my teaching methods were more “conducive” to an upper grade.
When I asked how many concerns there had been, I was told two or three. Since I had 25 students the previous year, I asked if that didn’t mean there were 22 or 23 sets of happy parents.
The reply forever changed my educational and life philosophy: “Either that or they didn’t say anything.” This was the crucial moment that I finally realized not all educators are on the same page.
I pushed the point further by asking my principal if he was trying to tell me I was incompetent. The reply shoved my new philosophy home.
“Look at it this way. I’m giving you a higher grade, which I think you can handle, but I’m going to be watching you.” I thought to myself, “You most certainly will.”
I made it a point to teach the entire year with my classroom door open. Occasionally the principal would come and stand in my open door, and I would stop and ask, “Do you need something?”
The usual reply, “No, I’m just looking at what a fine group of boys and girls you have.”
My usual reply, “Yes, they are wonderful, aren’t they?” I would just stare at him until he decided to move along. Then he would leave and close the door.
I would tell the student closest to the door, “You open that door. I want that man to hear every word I say.”
I could go on and on, but this article is long enough. How did the story end? The principal and I made peace after a fashion, and my teaching evaluations were always positive.
I was promoted to principal of Sharps Chapel Elementary, and my principal was promoted the same year to the Central Office. We both suffered demotions in later years—he retired, and we parted in peace. I stayed in the fight and was eventually promoted to the Central Office where I have stayed since 2004.
What can you learn from my experience? I always tried to do my best, but it is with sorrow that I look back on certain situations and realize that though I thought I was in the right I was terribly wrong. Hard to believe, but there are times I was mean when that was not my intention. I’ve learned everyone has shortcomings. That’s why we all need forgiveness.
I have discovered that life is a cycle — sometimes we are on top, other times we sink low. Thanks to God and our friends we rise again, every time we sink. Friends are so very important as we go through life. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, because that is the nature of life on this earth — things happen to people often without rhyme or reason. (Consequently, “good” and “bad” are relative terms, meaning different things to different people.) Ultimately with God and right on our side, everything works out for the best, if not in this world, in eternity.
As the George Jones song written by Johnny Paycheck (a good Google search) said, “There’s nothing better once you’ve had the best.”
In so many ways I’ve had the very best educational career that anyone could have. And just maybe there’s a few more miles on the ride I’ll get to enjoy.
Until next time, I leave you with a thought from my email world:
I may have been in Continent,
but I don't remember what country I was in.
It's an age thing.
They tell me it is very wet and damp there.
Picture it—church on Sunday morning. The pastor has delivered the points of his message, and the congregation has responded in many ways. Some follow the pastor’s every word, focusing on him intently.
There are others, however, that rarely if ever focus on the Sunday morning sermon. What is going through these people’s minds?
There are times I feel sad that I did not get to see things that are long gone. The American chestnut tree was once the dominant tree in our forest but is now reduced to scattered surviving stump sprouts. The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was once considered the most abundant bird on the planet, with flocks that could darken the sky for days as they migrated. This bird is now only a stuffed animal in the Smithsonian museum.
Union County is quite a special place when it comes to community recognizing opportunity and making it happen. This year of changes due to Covid-19 has been proof that all the effort Union County, and its organizations, put forth is “one step ahead.” UT Extension Union County has been staying “one step ahead” in a variety of ways during 2020. One example is by bringing an afterschool program to Big Ridge Elementary School for the next 5 years.
A Butcher, a Baker, a Candlestick Maker…Mother Goose nursery rhymes of yore had youngsters thinking of various professions in a fun and lyrical manner. Then, in the mid-twentieth century, as television entered America’s family rooms, the possibilities were more easily imagined. Wide-eyed kids began to imagine being an Astronaut, a Police Detective, a Rock-n-roll Musician, a Soldier, a Wilderness Explorer, or even President. Honorable Darryl Edmondson, General Sessions Court Judge, was one of those kids.
Historic Union County readers know the name Tilmer Wright Jr. from his many interesting and informative articles written for HUC. Wright was recently honored by Reader’s Favorite for his book "The Bit Dance" in its annual international book award contest, winning the Bronze Medal in the Fiction - Science Fiction category.
Readers' Favorite International Book Award Contest featured thousands of contestants from over a dozen countries, ranging from new independent authors to NYT best-sellers and celebrities.
The very nature of the job puts soldiers at an increased risk for developing chronic pain. The regular demands and stress are often multiplied when a tough-it-out mentality does not seek medical attention until serious, chronic pain results ... and it often does. Cumulative stress, single-event trauma, and surgery are all contributing factors. Although these will likely remain a constant of military service, chiropractic care may be a helpful solution.
The Need for Alternative Treatments
I just shared a Facebook past with a very special classmate of mine from my undergraduate days at Lincoln Memorial University. We were recalling how simple times were then. I was thinking about how smart I thought I was then, and how misguided I was in reality.
I remember a visit I made during my freshman year to the girls’ dormitory lounge. It was the one place in the female dormitory that males were legitimately allowed to visit every day, but only at prescribed hours.
Folks who would like a taste of some wild food ought to get out and hunt persimmons here soon when they get ripe. They are abundant in our area and easy to find in fencerows and woodland edges.
There are many varieties of persimmon trees in tropical areas of the world, but only two in the United States. The one growing here is called "common persimmon" (Diospyros Virginiana), or "possum tree" by some.
Apple picking time will soon be here. There are so many things you can do with apples, from cider to apple pie. Waldorf Salad is an old timey fruit salad. The traditional one had apples, walnuts and celery. This is not a traditional recipe. Back in the day, we didn't buy seedless table grapes or canned pineapple on our limited grocery budget. What a difference seventy years make. Back then it was hard to come up with variety in our diet. Now, Food City carries just about everything and we can afford to make this salad.
At one of Mayor Bailey's early commission meetings, he promised to seek as much funding from grants as possible.
True to his word, he requested acceptance of another state grant, the Tourism Enhancement Grant, for $75,000 with a 5% county match of $3,750, at the August Union County Commission meeting. Commissioners eagerly approved the motion and second by Commissioners Bill Cox and Keck along with multiple seconds.
When Chairman David Coppock realized that the Union County Board of Education lacked a quorum and would need to postpone the meeting, he called on UCEA President Carolyn Murr to speak during the workshop.
Murr quickly described the current school situation, “Teachers are frustrated, worn out, and exhausted,” she admonished. “ Some are working until 2 a.m. to record lessons and do distance learning after they teach during the day.”
By Laura White and staff
In a recent interview with the Election Commissioner in Union County, Debra Viles explained the process of voting, absentee voting and mail-in voting.
With the upcoming presidential election, many are hearing the arguments that votes are changed or that they weren’t right. As far as Union County goes, something like this happening is nearly impossible, if not actually impossible.
By now you may have received the census worker's “knock at your door.” You may also have received a second census form in the mail if you have not already responded. Please respond by mail, by phone or by internet (https://my2020census.gov/). If you receive a visit, please cooperate with the census worker.
There is a new garbage collection service in Maynardville. No matter how much we reduce, reuse and recycle, every household generates waste.
What to do with it is the question.
Introducing Jeffrey and Amanda Smith, the owners of Garbage Buddy, a new trash pickup service that opened on July 6 of this year. The business, officially Smith Sanitation, LLC, is off to a great start, staying busy, and adding customers daily. They already have plans to expand to Grainger, Anderson, and Knox counties, as they are receiving service requests from those areas.
Groomer Mitzi Eiler recently began grooming at the Thunder Road Veterinary Services in Maynardville. Grooming was not something she planned on doing as a career, but a turn of events changed her vocational goals.
The new groomer has been in this profession for nearly 15 years. She began her work here in Union County in April, after working at PetsMart. While working in Oak Ridge (where she’d worked for almost 17 years), Mitzi was taking her pet to be groomed when the opportunity to be trained as a groomer was presented. She took the chance to do something she says she now loves.
Kyphosis is an excessive forward curvature or “hunch” of the upper spine in older adults.
Your chiropractor may use a type of spinal manipulation—also called a spinal adjustment—to improve joint motion. Spinal manipulation is an active, hands-on treatment, and there are multiple variations of this technique.
Flexion-distraction technique is a gentle, non-thrusting spinal manipulation that is used for people with kyphosis that is associated with degenerative disc disease and/or motion restrictions in the thoracic spine (mid-back).
The second World War officially ended 75 years ago on Sept 2, 1945 — V Day. The documents were signed abord the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
More than 16 million men and women served our nation during World War II. Forty-five thousand gave their lives and 55,000 were wounded.
My uncle Jim Heiskell was one of those who served. Uncle Jim is now passed on but when reviewing some of his belongings I found his military papers along with an article from his unit of the history of the unit.
The dramatic phase “the fall of the Roman Empire” is a misnomer and is in fact a shorthand for the long, slow process for the exchange of one lifestyle for another. The Roman Empire had 100 years of peace called the Pax Romana — then the lull before the storm.
(Harrison, 1965) The most pressing problem of the third century was that of imperial succession. During the period of the “good emperors” (A.D. 90-180) each ruler had chosen an able, experienced man to succeed him.
The Apostle James in his letter says, “faith without works is dead.”
The Apostle Paul tells the Ephesians that salvation is: “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Do we have a contradiction in the pages of the Bible? Is James disagreeing with Paul regarding salvation?
At first glance it seems Paul and James do disagree and we have a contradiction, which is often the problem with first glances without knowledge.
Just so you’ll know, I didn’t go to church in my PJs. Well not in the sanctuary anyway.
Over the last few years, I have noticed more and more people wearing their PJs out in public. But, I was the most shocked by that during a Christmas concert a few years ago.
When our daughter was attending the University of the Cumberlands, she was in The Cumberland Singers. One Christmas, we went up to hear them sing during the traditional “Hanging of the Greens.” So there we sat in the chapel. I was wearing my “Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes” as was Tim.
By Steve Roark
Volunteer Interpreter, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.
Confession time: I am not good at math. I use it, it’s great, we went to the moon with it, yada yada.
I don’t think well mathematically and must strive to understand it. But I was amazed to discover that trees use mathematics to arrange their leaves on a twig to optimize their collection of sunlight for the photosynthesis thing.
Who doesn't like Tacos or Taco Salad? Try this recipe. If salt is a problem for you, you can limit the salt. These tacos get their flavor from the chili powder and the cumin. If you don't have any taco shells on hand, make your own. Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you. It goes together easily.
Country Connections By James and Ellen Perry
1936 was a good year and a bad year. The depression was still raging. The Nazis were being emboldened by the pacifist actions of both Britain and the United States, although the United States had ramped up air and army support against the Japanese military and their savagery in China and Burma. There was peace in the United States and Roosevelt’s programs were improving poverty in most of the U.S. But war clouds swirled.
If you’re ever looking for produce and fresh vegetable plants, meats, honey, flowers, and yummy baked goods, the Union County Farmers Market is the place to go. Not only will you get a good price for local, wholesome goods, but you get the unique chance to meet the producers too! You can speak with them and learn firsthand how best to prepare or store the goods you are purchasing. And no worries about second-hand items or repackaged things, everything you find at the Union County Farmers Market is first-rate and has been picked or prepared that day, or the day before.
Whether an elected official or appointed official, there are hundreds of people serving Maynardville and its neighboring communities within Union County in local, county, and state government offices every day. Some carry familiar titles (thanks to fictional TV characters and highly publicized local elections), such as City Commissioner, Mayor, or County Sheriff. There are dozens of other titles, not as commonly known but no less vital, that are given to people who are as dedicated to our communities as high-profile positions.
State Rep. Dennis Powers, R- Jacksboro, today announced a $221,516 emergency broadband grant would be awarded to Campbell County through the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund allotment from the federal government.
The grant is part of $61 million in emergency broadband package for 62 projects announced by Gov. Bill Lee last week and distributed by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) to improve access to broadband internet across the state.
Baby boomers have become increasingly active as they age. One thing to keep in mind is that
when you are 50, you may injure your body more easily than when you were 20. Joints,
tissues and muscles may not be as flexible as they used to be. So as boomers age, they should
take extra steps to protect themselves from injuries when exercising. A little extra stretching
before and after exercise, for example, goes a long way.
Here are some tips to help boomers prevent exercise-related injuries:
When I ask kids why trees are important their number one answer is that they produce oxygen. Plant leaves are solar collectors that take sun energy to produce food through the miracle of photosynthesis, a complex chemical process where carbon dioxide and water are converted to a glucose sugar. This sugar is used for food energy or converted to a starch called cellulose for building the plant’s body (stem, limbs, etc.). In trees we call this wood, something we use a lot of.
How many of us old-timers remember the television theme song to Cheers—“sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name”? Sometimes we are the exact opposite—we want to go where no one knows anything about us.
I received an email today that gave me pause for thought. Some people worry about being in the “in” crowd. That is usually a place I do not crave, as the admission price is sometimes greater than I wish to pay. According to the thoughts expressed in the email, I may have tried, possibly even succeeded, more often that I thought.
You would think my papaw’s barn was some kind of tourist attraction.
Whenever any of my cousins or friends came over to play, they usually asked if we could go to the barn. To be honest, I didn’t want to go there. To me it was a stinky place that I tried to avoid.
I even heard stories from my cousins who were my mom’s childhood playmates. And guess what? They all wanted to play in the barn too. Their favorite thing was to jump out of the loft and onto the hay. I have to admit, that does sound like fun, but it’s something my mom would have never let me do.
We have had no company since the pandemic begin last spring, that is until Jackie came to spend a week with us. Jackie is married to Anne's brother Brian. They live in Albion, Michigan. She quarantined in place before coming to Tennessee to visit us.
One of the highlights of her visit was our biscuit making project. Jackie can make a decent biscuit. I made biscuits the day after she arrived. She loved them and wanted to know how I made them.
With all the new changes going on in the school system due to Covid-19, sports is something I know many are concerned/curious about. It is something some schools have chosen not to do, and some inter-collegiate sports are not being held this semester. Following TMSAA guidelines, Union County Schools are continue their sports, but there will be some things students and fans will find different.
You have likely heard a lot of talk in the news lately about the United States Postal Service (USPS), which is an independent establishment of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government. Despite the varying opinions and impressions of the USPS, it has always been, and continues to be, a revered and well-regarded institution in the minds of its fellow Americans.
I once attended a service at Loveland Baptist Church when Rev. Oliver Wolfenbarger was pastor. He rose to preach and announced his text. It was the same text he had used the previous Sunday.
Preacher Wolfenbarger said, “I know what you’re thinking—poor ol’ Wolfenbarger’s losing it. He don’t remember that he preached on these same verses last week. I just want you to know, that I know I preached this last week, but I didn’t get finished. What’s more, I’m just as crazy as you think I am.”
When you watch the weather forecast you invariably see a listing of current conditions: temperature, wind speed, relatively humidity, and dew point. Like you or I use those readings to predict how the weather is going to impact my comfort if out in it. But why is dew point important enough to be listed, and how does it impact your day?
Now this is really an old timey dessert. I remember first making it when I was a 15 year old cook and housekeeper during World War II. (I was too young to get a job in a factory.) The lady of the house taught me to make it. It takes a while to make but is worth it. You should have everything in your pantry.
Millions of children struggle under the weight of an overstuffed backpack, putting themselves at risk of injury.
Parents should inspect their child’s backpack from time to time. They often carry much more than they should with extra shoes, toys and other unnecessary items.
A backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 15 percent of the child’s weight, or about seven pounds for a child who weighs 50 pounds. If it is textbooks that are making the bag too heavy, parents should speak with the teacher—sometimes these books can be left at school.
There will be a Special Called Meeting of the Union County Board of Education on Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. at Union County High School to discuss Capital Projects.
The next regular workshop and meeting of the Union County Board of Education was scheduled for Thursday, October 8, 2020 at Union County High School. The workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the meeting immediately to follow.
Ophelia Graves Washam Williams-age 85 of Luttrell gained her angel wings Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at her home. She was a lifetime member of Mountain View Church of God, Luttrell. She loved her Jesus, her family and to know her was to love her. She is preceded in death by her husbands, Bobby Washam and Doffise Williams, her parents, Theodore and Bonnie “Rouse” Graves along with four brothers.
Shelma Jean Dunn, age 83 of Knoxville, passed away at her home on September 15, 2020. She was a member of Clapps Chapel United Methodist Church.
Preceded in death by parents, Clayton and Nellie Loope; sister, Mary Ruth Loope; brothers, Junior, Earl, Winfred, and Don Loope.
Debbie Wolfenbarger, age 62 of Powell, passed away September 16, 2020. Preceded in death by parents Nellie Rose and Willie Clark Arnold, sister Judith Johnson, brother Gary Arnold. Survived by husband Kenneth Lloyd Wolfenbarger Jr., brothers Greg (Joann) Arnold and Spencer Arnold, brother-in-law David Johnson, sister-in-law Kathy (Kirt) Senft; nephews Tyler Arnold, Brandon Seeber, Tim Johnson, Aaron Johnson, Robby Arnold, Scott Arnold, nieces Brittany Arnold Lett, Lexie Arnold, Ceati Seeber, and several great-nephews and nieces and other family members and acquaintances.
Edward Clayton Shipley “Ed” age 78 of Mascot passed away Sunday, September 13, 2020. Ed was a prominent business man and friend to many. He operated Ed Shipley Guttering for over 40 years. A member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Preceded in death by his parents Eston and Mildred Shipley; siblings Myra Ann Shipley, Jackie Ray Shipley, Barbara Ruth Cartwright, Melba Jean Ferguson.
Ola Mae Wilkerson, age 88 of Halls Crossroads, passed away Thursday, September 17, 2020 at Tennova North Medical Center. She was a member of Bethany Baptist Church. Preceded in death by parents Oliff and Maggie Wilkerson, siblings Elizabeth, Sophie, Mildred, Teresa, Cecil, Holbert, Carl, and Bob Wilkerson, Geraldine Hansard, and Annabelle Lyons. Survived by son Terry (Angie) Wilkerson, siblings Helen Monroe, Ruth Martin, Pearl Wilkerson, Clifford (Charlotte) Wilkerson, and several nieces and nephews.