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Posts Tagged ‘elementary school’

I’ve written posts this week mentioning Sally Ride and also my son, Tony.  Today, I’ll tell you a story combining the two.

The summer before Tony was to go to fifth grade, he kept saying all summer that he didn’t want to get Mrs. Kirby for a teacher.  He would take anyone but her.  I asked him why and he said because of the biography project he required.  Apparently, everyone at the school knew that each year Mrs. Kirby’s class was required to research someone and then give an oral report on the person…in costume.  Each year she alternated between female and male personalities that had to be reported on.  The year Tony was entering fifth grade, everyone in the class would have to report on a woman personality and in their oral report, they would have to dress in costume!  So all summer long he kept hoping for a teacher other than Mrs. Kirby, although  were it not for that one project, he would actually like to be in her class.

The week before school began, we got the classroom assignments and Tony had been assigned to Mrs. Kirby’s class.  He asked if I could get him into another class.  He knew I had a lot of pull after being involved in the PTA for the previous five years and he was sure that if I asked the principal, she would switch teachers.  I wasn’t so sure and I really didn’t want to set a precedent for getting him out of things that were not “desirable” so I said I couldn’t do it.  I’m not sure he understood it but he accepted it. 

All year long he kept trying to think of a way to get out of the project.  I was not going to help him get out of it, either.  He knew that.  When it came time to sign up for their biography project, I wondered who he would sign up for.  He wasn’t saying.  He did say that there could be no duplicates so if he didn’t get to sign up right away, someone else might sign up for his first choice.  When I picked him up on the day he had to sign up, he had an ear to ear smile.  I asked him who he was reporting on and he said, “Sally Ride.”  He would dress as an astronaut and would wear an astronaut’s helmet!  Apparently, he was the envy of all the boys who had failed to think of something so clever!

He gathered a lot of information on Sally ride but a lot of it was old information as it had been about 11 or 12 years since her space shuttle voyage.  We kind of brainstormed and I helped him look online, but of course in those days there wasn’t as much online as there is today.  Then Tony asked if I could call Stanford.  He knew Sally Ride had gone to Stanford and was affiliated with the university and I had attended Stanford so he figured I might be able to get to her.  That was one thing I figured I could do.  I knew that there were many kids in his class whose parents were in the movie industry and were getting special stuff for their kids from actors and directors and other film industry personalities so I figured I could make a few phone calls.  Stanford gave me her direct line in her office at UCSD.  Although she was out of the country when I called, her office was very helpful and in a couple of weeks, Tony received a packet of fresh information on Sally Ride and on some of her projects.  And an autographed to him photo along with a hand written note from Sally Ride, wishing him luck with his project and inviting him to contact her again for more info if needed!

Pretty awesome that she would take the time to do this for a fifth grader.  And pretty awesome that my son, even in fifth grade, was clever enough to think of a way to fulfill the requirements of this project without a lot of embarrassment to him!

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