Teaching the Blind

I’ve dealt with kids that have vision issues before.  You move them close to the front, print out extra notes for them, verbalize everything you do, etc.  Broken glasses and lost contacts are things that you just deal with by using the previously listed methods.

This year it seems to be more prevalent.  Not only do I have the broken glasses and contact issues, but I have another issue.  They can’t see and they don’t get any help to fix the problem.

I have at least three kids in one class that probably need glasses.  They’re all sitting in the front.  But they have no glasses.

For one student, I first discovered the issue during the 2nd week of the quarter.  He came and sat by my computer so he was only about 1 foot away from my screen and could see what I was writing on my Promethean Board with the notes.  Later that day, I found a note that he left me.  It gave me the names of his mother and step mother with their phone numbers.  He asked me to call them and tell them that he needed glasses.  There was also a “PS.  Please don’t call my dad” at the end of the note.  That day, I made the two phone calls.  I left a message for step-mom and got a hold of mom.  Mom said, “I’ll call his dad.  He doesn’t live with me.”  Has anything happened with said student?  Nope.

Today I stopped by the nurse’s office during my hall duty.  She said that if they don’t have insurance she might be able to give them a coupon for an exam and glasses.  I don’t know how much they would have to pay, but she would also need to know the family income for them to qualify for this coupon thing.

So tomorrow, I’ll start having my discreet conversations about getting glasses with these students.

When I first started writing this blog, the main idea was to show how many things I do are outside the range of strictly teaching math.  So here’s another to add to the list…


Extra Curricular Activity


A few years ago I started taking wine classes. They’re at the local University and usually last for about four weeks at a time. The classes are only one day per week. Right now, it’s my Monday evening activity. And a very nice way to start your week, if I must say so myself!

Last night we had a special treat. Being that it was Valentine’s Day, the instructor focussed on dessert wines. We had 2 wines from Hungary and then we tried four different kinds of Madeira.

The two Hungarian wines we tried were both made from Furmint grapes. The first wine was a dry white (Kiralyudvar Tokaji Furmint Sec 2007). In the wine world Dry = Less Sugar. I’m not much for describing what I’m tasting. I usually code my sheet with either a 🙂 or a 😦 to note whether I liked it or not. The first two both had 🙂 on my sheet. Wine #2 was the same grape, but it had been processed differently, aged longer, etc and was a dessert wine (Kiralyundvar Tokaji Cuvee “Ilona” 2003). We had a little smaller pour because wine #2 was $55/500 ml bottle.

The second part of the class was Madeira. Madeira is a fortified wine. I have a little experience with fortified wines (port and sherry) from an earlier class. Madeira comes from the island of the same name 625 miles from the coast of Portugal. There are four main grapes used to make it. In the picture, from left to right they are: Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malmsey. They also get sweeter from left to right. I didn’t care as much for the Sercial. The Verdelho was fine, but I probably wouldn’t buy it. The last two, Bual and Malmsey, were my favorites. All of them were “Blandy’s 5 Year” bottles labeled with the grape name. They are all about $26/bottle here.

One really nice thing about Madeira is that it is already oxidized so it’s stable and you don’t have to drink the whole bottle within a few days of opening it. You can cork it back up and not worry much about storage.

Since it was Valentine’s Day we had a special treat. The instructor had truffles to go with the Madeira. The truffles were 85% (cocoa intensity) from Legacy Chocolates. I don’t think I’ve heard that many Mmm‘s of pleasure all in one room for a long time.

Our super awesome instructor did mention the cardinal rule of dessert wine. Dessert wines must be sweeter than the food you are serving them with. If not, the wine will taste metallic.

We’ve got one class left in this series. Next week will be Hidden Gems of Spain.

Over the last few years, the classes I’ve taken are: The Geography of Wine, Wines of the Iberian Peninsula, The Politics of Wine, Wine and War, California Wines, The Noble Grapes, and Hidden Gems of the Wine World. The next class in May will focus on California wine regions and include travel tips for visiting each area (Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Monterrey).

Too bad I can’t get credit for lane changes with these classes…

Sharing in the Joy

There’s just something about high school kids when they are successful.  I’m a total sucker for it.  I even get kind of choked up inside – but don’t admit it.  (Ok, I guess I just did.)

Last night I was working a gymnastics meet.  It happened to be the city conference meet.  There are four teams left in the city conference and we compete against each of them a few times during the season.  I’m on the sidelines doing the score table and the announcing.  Being a math teacher isn’t a necessity for the score table, but I think the others working are glad that I’m there taking charge of it.

The city conference isn’t very competitive with the rest of the state.  The girls in the city haven’t necessarily been doing gymnastics since they were 3.  Many of them only start in high school.  So it’s actually pretty impressive to see how far they have come in such a short time.  Since they haven’t been doing the sport for a long time, they also don’t take themselves too seriously.  They can laugh when they make a mistake instead of getting distraught.

So at last night’s meet, they were all just doing their best and trying to reach their personal and team goals.  We’ve never won a conference championship since I’ve been there (15 years).  And I don’t think they did prior to my tenure.

When we got to the end of the meet and were totaling up the scores, we were in for a little surprise.  Surprise enough to re-check the math…  Those of us at the score table knew that this was a really big deal.

Our school’s head coach was doing the announcing for all of the ribbons on the individual events.  So we had time to figure out our plan for the surprise.  We were trying our best to put on our poker faces.  But I don’t think anyone would have noticed our odd behavior at the table.  No one was expecting this.

After the coach read the last girl’s name for the all around awards, we re-claimed the microphone for the team results.

In 4th place with a score of 94.3, Lake HS.  In 3rd place with a score of 114.6, Schultz HS.  In 2nd place with a score of 119.35, Park HS. At this point is when the realization hit them all.  The looks of shock, disbelief, surprise,  then excitement were priceless.  And the top score of 119.6, East HS.

All season, the girls from my school came in behind the 2nd and 3rd place teams in their dual meets.  So this was truly was one of those choke-me-up moments.  The pure joy and happiness in their faces and screams was a sight to behold. What a fun night!

A Cooking Success


We recently had a chili cook-off at school. Last Monday was a teacher work day and one of our assistant principals organized it. There were about 13 kinds of chili to try. I think I only made it through five of them. All in all it was a fun event and people enjoyed it.

Even though I just had chili on Monday, I wanted to try a recipe that I got from my mom. I think she actually got it from my sister. So yesterday was the day. It’s a white chili recipe. It turned out to be quite good!


In case you’re interested, here it is…

3 15oz cans of white beans
2.5 cups cups cooked chicken, chopped or diced
1 cup chopped onion
1.5 cups chopped sweet peppers – green, red, orange or yellow
2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
.5 teaspoon salt
.5 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
3.5 cups chicken broth

Put in a crockpot on low and top with shredded cheese and green onions.

It’s quite tasty and will be easy to freeze for future lunches.