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Greenville Schools: Looking Back… Looking Ahead
By Bob Robinson

“I got memories,” he said. “I went to school there.”

He rode up on his bicycle while I was taking pictures of East school. Nice guy, late twenties or early thirties. “Don’t know if I really want anything from there, but I got my memories.” He was referring to the announced auction sign in front of the school.

The resident wanted to know if the high school was coming down, too, adding he’d heard the new K-12 building was to open in January.

“It’s K-8,” I said. “The high school has been completely renovated. It’ll be around for a long time to come.”

He nodded. I took a couple more pictures and, shortly, he was gone.

I’d done an Internet search, and while I’d taken photos of all the schools at one time or another, they weren’t easily searchable and were not included in I decided to take my own… and the memories of five years of subbing came surging back. Most were good… some were sad.

East was always a blast. I got to see the kids I’d worked with at Woodland, many of whom came up for hugs when they saw me. I especially remember a student who, for two years, loved to give me a hard time when I was on playground duty. He had sticky hands, loved to try to check out my pockets… and I think he was the one who put a small rubber toy in my coat pocket. I still have it today.

It broke my heart when I was subbing a third grade class and using a little spare time for math and spelling practice. The students would write their answers on white boards and hold them up for me to see… two girls wrote “I’m just stupid” on theirs as we wrapped up the session. That hurt.

Woodland was the scene of my toughest memory and my most heart-warming one. My first assignment was there. Kindergarten. I stood at the door, smiling, as the kids walked into the room. Every one of them stared up at me… they were not smiling. Other than the custodian, Mr. Bush, whom they loved, I was the only male on campus at that time. The kids, bless their little hearts, crucified me that day.

Then there were the times in the lunchroom when the kids realized Mr. Robinson, I guess, was an okay guy. One student asked me if I was pregnant, then grinned. Two girls, whom I referred to as the Giggle Sisters, always asked if I was teaching or volunteering. If I was teaching, they grudgingly left me alone. If I was volunteering there was no shortage of imagination on the tricks they could play on me.

My favorite memory, though, was the little kindergartner who said she was going to marry me when she got big. “I’m already married, sweety,” I told her. “That’s okay,” she said. “I can wait.”

South and the Junior High were either real challenges or real successes. Kids were beginning to grow, mature, develop their personalities. And attitudes. My best and toughest memory came from the same junior high class on the same day. I’d been told it was a tough one, and the students made good on their reputation. Good thing I have a loud voice. I got their attention.

One student came in late and slammed his books on the desk while I was talking to the rest of the class. I made him pick them back up and lower them properly. He did so, but wasn’t through with me, yet. He decided to talk to his neighbors while I was talking. I stopped and stared at him. He pretended not to notice. After several seconds, I got his attention and motioned him out into the hallway. I glared at the class – no talking, the glare said – and followed him out. We had a conversation, managed to gain some mutual respect, and he became a positive role model the rest of the class period.

About five minutes later, another student came in and showed me his pass. He had just gotten out of AIR (not sure what it stands for but that’s where students with behavior issues go). We went through the same ridiculous scene with slamming books. Five minutes later, he got up and left the classroom. One of the students said, “He does that all the time.”

“Not in my classroom, he doesn’t,” I responded, following him into the hall. I called him back and backed him to the lockers. “Want to go back to AIR?” I asked. “Yep,” he said. “It’s a lot more fun there. I don’t have to work.” I talked to him about growing up, responsibility… he’ll be in high school next year. After that it’s being an adult and working every day. “I’ll think about it next year. I’m just a kid. I want to have fun.”

I could see I wasn’t getting through to him; I still had a class to conduct and a subject to teach. I told him to sit back down and pay attention. Five minutes later he walked out of class… I sent him back to AIR.

South ages are really great ages… the kids are no longer “little ones” but not yet “the sophisticated big kids.” I seldom got an acknowledgment at the junior high; needless to say no hugs; I still got a few hugs – and lots of acknowledgments – at South. Students were learning at higher levels by this time, but hadn’t yet developed any attitudes. I always thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

Then there was the student who sat staring at the ceiling after I’d spent 10 minutes explaining an assignment to the class. I asked him why he wasn’t working. “Oh,” he said. “You mean I’m supposed to do that?”

Oh well.

Besides… it seems to be South and Junior High students who have no trouble telling mom, dad or anyone else who would listen… “Mr. Robinson is the greatest teacher ever!!!” I kinda liked that.

That’s just the surface from five years of subbing. I can’t even begin to imagine the memories our teachers – who are in the classrooms every day – will be taking with them.

I have memories at the high school, but it isn’t going away. I have many more to create. I also intend to create many new memories at Greenville’s “state-of-the-art” K-8 building. South Principal Rhonda Schaar gave me a brief tour of the 5-8 side of the complex.

Mind boggling! But that’s for another time.

I believe I have rambled enough. I enjoyed looking back… now I’m ready to look forward.

Take a look at the complete photo set at Community Events Photo Gallery


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