Repost of “My Wife is a Teacher”

I do not take credit for this.  I am mearly reposting an email that I received.  Although I agree witht he sentiments and thoughts expressed here, all credit it due to Mr. Vic DeSantis.

 

My Wife is a Teacher 
By: Vic DeSantis

I am a guy who lives for summers. I wasn’t always like this but I’m pretty sure I can pinpoint the exact time in my life where the months of June, July, and August became such an integral part of my happiness.

You might be inclined to deduce that my yearning for these warmer times is related to a sports season or a passion for outdoor activities; perhaps even slower times at work. In some regards you might be correct but not exactly for the any one of the three multiple choice answers provided. 

You see, my wife is a teacher.

When I met my wife she was not a teacher – she was a student. When we married she was finishing her degree and starting out on her own professional career. To say that I knew nothing about the educational system at that point would be an enormous understatement. In the nearly 20 years that followed I have learned everything that a parent, student, citizen, and spouse should know about the challenges that every teacher faces. Armed with those insights it is difficult to reconcile the carefully framed messages of politicians and privatized education proponents with the realities of life in the classroom.

My wife is a teacher. I’ve never once, in the history of our life together, seen her trading derivatives, speculate in real estate, engage in subprime lending practices, or make exorbitant demands on her employer for an outrageous salary. It is perplexing to me that over the past few years she and her colleagues have, at least in the eyes of many, become public enemy number one. I suspect that a good portion of this misguided angst is directly related to the economic environment; something that she had absolutely no part in creating. Is she without fault? Absolutely not. I have over the years thought that she would have been much better off taking her well-earned college degree and her intelligence into the private sector and guiltlessly accumulated as much wealth and material possessions as possible. Sometimes you just can’t talk sense into these folks.

My wife is a teacher. Instead of making money she decided to make a difference. 

My wife is a teacher. For nearly 2 years she worked diligently to achieve the prestigious designation as a nationally board certified teacher – a designation that came with a small annual bonus. After meeting her end of the bargain, the state pulled the funding.

My wife is a teacher. She has worked for a decade and a half for far less money than her counterparts who are not public employees. She did this satisfied with the proposition that the pay was steady, a small retirement income certain, and the intangible satisfaction of steering the lives of children.

My wife is a teacher. Her income is now in decline. As a reward for her faithful years of service our state has decided that she should give back 3% of her salary towards her retirement. After all they say “this is what folks in the private sector do.” Tack-on another 2% reduction for the expired payroll tax holiday and the hits just keep on coming.

My wife is a teacher. Despite continuous assaults on her take-home pay, she shells out thousands of her own dollars for classroom supplies. She is impervious to the yearly barrage of administrative mandates established by politicians and so-called “educational experts” – she soldiers on.

My wife is a teacher. She is reviled by certain segments of our society who labor under the belief that she is underworked and overpaid. One would think that after fifteen plus years in a professional where a four-year college degree is a minimum entry requirement that most would not begrudge her a $40,000 a year salary. And for those less inclined to the truth, her salary is adjusted to smaller twice-a-month paychecks to cover the summer months when school is not in session.

My wife is a teacher. She is tasked with the enormous responsibility for the care and safety of your children. I’ll dispense with the lengthy analysis on this topic. Two words suffice – Newtown and Oklahoma. Someone please let me know the next time Lebron James throws his body between a child and the working end of an assault rifle and I will hold professional athletes in the same reverence I do teachers.

My wife is a teacher. For nine months of every year our family lives in the metronomic cycle of early morning wake-ups and late evening lesson-planning. We revel in the plethora of candies and candles, gift-cards and gadgets that herald the arrival of the “Christmas Break,” and I observe with interest the emotion that a hand-written note from a 1st grader can bring at the end of a school year.

My wife is a teacher. From August to May she had dedicated herself to the interests of her kids and her school. She has prepared and toiled, laughed and cried – and shared one hundred stories about the amazing kids that walk through her door each morning. She has left me wondering in awe how she does so much with – and for – so little. 

It is the summer now – my happy time comprised of the few short weeks that I do not have to share her. My wife is a teacher – she is also my hero. I promise to return her in August.

Caesar’s Palace…not quite “the Hangover” hotel.

I am staying this week at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.  In my role at my company it seems pretty apparent that, as our western branches expand, my visits will become more and more frequent.  So I have decided to  try staying in all the major hotels on the strip.

This far I have stayed at only two, the MGM Grand and the Hard Rock Hotel.

For comparison sake, my first hotel that I stayed in on the strip was the Hard Rock (which technically isn’t on the strip, but close enough for my purposes.)  So all comparisons are pretty much using that as a reference point.  I really enjoyed my stay at the HRH.

The room rate at Caesar’s was $120 for a room with one King Sized bed. 

I arrived at around 11 AM.  The lobby was fairly empty and this was about the last time I would see it like this.  Otherwise it was pretty much constantly packed.  I felt sorry for the pour souls standing in line 10-15 deep waiting to check in.  Perhaps it was because of EDC being this particular weekend, but I suspect that is not the case.

The staff was friendly, but their directions to my tower (Roman) were woefully inadequate and the maps around the hotel weren’t much help either.  I finally wandered around enough and found my elevators.

At this point it might be good to mention that the size of this place is just enormous.  For the first three days I was constantly getting lost.  I have heard that the designers of casino do this on purpose.  And brother, I’m here to tell you, it works.

The room was fairly small in comparison the on one at HRH.  The décor was fairly dated and the 19” televisions (one in the main room and one in the bed room) were old tube type televisions.  That mattered little as the picture was so poor, it wasn’t really worth watching anyway (which, in reality, may be by design.  They probably don’t want you spending a whole lot of time in the room I imagine.)

The bed was clean and comfortable, but the air conditioning was loud and ran constantly. 

The hotel hallways were in need of cleaning and touchup on paint and such and often glasses and room service trays stayed a couple of days.

The shower and towels were insane and probably my favorite part of the room.  Nice fluffy towel and the water pressure in the shower was awesome.

Finally parking was a nightmare.  The first night I used the valet, which was fine.  But every time I tried to use it after 4 PM, the valet lot was full.  After the fourth day, I abandoned even trying using the valet and parked in self-parking instead.  That posed it’s own issues, as often as now, I ended up parking so far away from my room, it would take 20+ minutes to get from my car to my room.

Over all, it would be okay for a short weekend stay, but stay again nor I wouldn’t recommend Caesar’s Palace.

Spiritual lessons in Las Vegas

Again I find myself in Las Vegas for work.  This time I am here for in excess of a week.  I’ve tried to like Las Vegas, and to be sure there are parts I do like.  I like the climate, the desert, the buildings, and the restaurants.  And the people that live and work here seem quite nice and friendly for the most part.

But other parts, the “sin city” parts are very hard for me to accept.  I have been struggling with what I see here and the self-centered behavior that the Las Vegas tourist industry embraces and promotes.  In many ways, watching some of the people and the way they behave is like watching a self-inflicted train wreck.

I keep thinking of my daughters and pray that I have raised them with a better sense of self-respect, faith, and self-control that, when they visit Las Vegas as young women that they will not behave like I see the people here behaving.

“What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” is what they want people to believe.  But unfortunately that is not true in any sense.  What happens here has some very real consequences that will stay with a person forever.  It doesn’t disappear once the plane door closes.

So onto the spiritual lessons learned.

First, I am reminded of the old Zen tale of the two monks that came to the edge of a river.  At the edge of the river was a young lady who could not cross the river in her finery.  The older monk, had the young lady get on here back and he crossed the river keeping the young lady dry.

Once on the other side, the two monks continued on their way.  After a while, the younger monk could no longer take it.  “Why did you pick her up?  You know our order forbids us to touch a woman!  How could you do that?”

The older monk looked at the younger monk and said “I left that young lady back at the edge of the river.  Why are you still carrying her?”

For me, the first lesson is to let go of it when people are making their choices, even if they are self destructive.  I cannot carry them.

The second lesson is that my faith and beliefs are part of me and are inseparable.   While this might seem an odd statement, it is significant idea but it might be a bit hard to explain.

As a Christian I have always fought to stay true to my beliefs.   What I have discovered is that my faith and spirituality is a gift and it is a gift I cannot give back even if I wanted to do so.  Like eye color or height or being double-jointed, it is part of me.   And while my faith may ebb and flow at different times in my life, it is always there to some extent.  And with that faith comes grace.

The scary thought is that if this if a gift given to me, it raises the question that is this gift given to everyone?  Or could it be that some just don’t have it.

Perhaps Las Vegas isn’t the right place to contemplate this too much.