What I Learned in School… From A Substitute Teacher

 

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Substitute teachers have to have one of the hardest jobs I can think of. I only ever had one that I liked and learned from – although the lesson was not part of the regular curriculum. This young teacher, perhaps trying to relate to us kids, decided one day to teach us how to pass time in class while looking like we were working on something.

He had us write down on a piece of paper the letters of the alphabet in one column:

Then he had us choose a section from whatever book we had handy and write a random sentence down a second column.

The instruction then was to see how many famous names you could match to the pair of initials on your page. From a teacher’s perspective, it looked like we were studiously working on a difficult assignment.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I played this little memory game in class when I was bored which was, as I recall, often. I don’t know what happened to that substitute or what career he finally settled upon but I owe him a major debt of gratitude. His little trick got me through calculus.

Here’s an example.  See how many celebrities you can plug in to the following list of initials:

AN – Anthony Newley

BO – Bobby Orr

CW – Carl Withers

DI – Daniel Inouye

ES – Edward Snowden

FT – Forrest Tucker

GH – George Hamilton

HE – Hector Elizando

IW – Irving Wallace

JI – Jeremy Irons

KN – Kevin Nealon

LT – Lawrence Taylor

ME – Mamie Eisenhower

NR – Nancy Reagan

OO – Ozzy Osbourne

PF – Peter Frampton

QO – ????????

RU – ?????????

SR – Sally Ride

TD – Tommy Dorsey

UI – ????????????

VS – Vin Scully

WC – Walter Cronkite

XO –     ??????????

YN – ??????????

ZT – Zachary Taylor

I came up with 20 out of 26. Not a bad score. You can see my answers by dragging your cursor over the space next to the initials. How many could you think of?

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

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Dodge This!

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It is rather sad when one peaks in the 5th grade. I mean, so much of life still lies ahead but the glory days remain back in grade school. You see, I was a bit of a prodigy in elementary school. I have already recounted my feats of speed in an earlier blog but apparently I was quite the agile little dickens as well. I was unbeatable in a sport I’m told is rarely played in schools these days. Of course, I’m talking about dodgeball.

Because I grew up in the 60s, we’re not talking about the sanctioned sport of Dodgeball with complex rules and uniformed teams as showcased in the Vince Vaughn movie. The way we played it on the blacktop, one kid stood in the center of a circle around which the entire class was standing. And the sole object was to throw a red rubber kickball, a little larger than a basketball, at that kid until he was hit. Who ever threw the ball that hit the kid became the next one to stand in the middle as the target.

Once I made the center, it was game over. I was like ridiculously hard to hit. I may have lost the limberness I once had but back in the day I was a cross between a circus contortionist and Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four (he was the one who could stretch himself like rubber.) On more than one occasion, the recess monitor had to come to break up our game because it was time to resume class. With me in the center, the game would never end.

My superior skill at dodging a ball soon became the stuff of classroom legend. My peers, who once were my friends, became determined to bring me down. They started sneaking extra balls to the lineup thinking I could be blindsided.  They changed the rules by eliminating the circle and just lining me up against the brick wall of the school building. It was like facing a firing squad of rubber balls.

I graduated from elementary school undefeated in dodgeball. I was certain my future was bright. But my career came to a sudden and unexpected end. No one ever told me they didn’t play dodgeball in junior high.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Make ‘Em Laugh

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Last night, I found myself watching a “lost” episode of The Carol Burnett Show. It reminded me of how much I enjoyed the old comedy sketch shows that were so prevalent as I was growing up. For a long time, I thought comedy was what I wanted to do for a living.

A comedy sketch was actually the thing that started me down a path towards the theatrical arts. I was a junior in high school and I was encouraged to take an elective class in public speaking. For a class assignment, I chose to present an old Bob Newhart routine. It went over so well I was asked to repeat it for a Forensics competition and it took me to the final round.

The next year, I was president of my school’s Forensics club and began applying to colleges that offered a solid theater or speech/communications program. Up to that point, my school counselors were trying to direct me to a math related program as I was scoring in the upper percentile on those aptitude tests. But its tough to get laughs by filling out a spreadsheet.

For your listening pleasure, here’s the routine that made me what I am today… at least it started the ball rolling.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Edjumacation – Time for Some Larnin’

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Our studio will be closed from February 26 through March 4. We are closing so that we may attend our annual Advanced Training series of classes.

Learning is a life-long exercise. It is important to stretch one’s self – to continue to grow. When we stop learning, we kind of stop living. It is why we close our doors twice a year to participate in these annual training seminars. It is when we, along with other industry professionals, learn the new tools and techniques of our trade. It enables us to continue to be able to offer you the finest in media services.

I have had both good and bad experiences with teachers over the years. The bad ones tend to fade from memory.  The good ones always stay with you.

There was Miss Mueller, my first grade teacher. She was young, pretty and a great introduction to the world of public schooling. She was also probably my first teacher crush. She wouldn’t be the last. Young boys are fickle like that.

I remember Bonnie Fox, my ninth grade English teacher, who allowed me to explore my love for words and writing as a form of personal expression. She never could get me to “get” Shakespeare but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Then there was Dr. Earl C. Lammel, who took me and several of my classmates under his wing and, during our 4 years of undergraduate school, led us through exponential growth and development using Viola Spolin’s book, Improvisation for the Theater as our primary text. It was a time of great self-awareness for me as the process forced us all to look within ourselves with candor and honesty. 

There were many others who taught me and guided me through life and I thank each of them. I wouldn’t be who I am today without their willingness to impart to me their knowledge and expertise. Teachers are special. I should know, I was raised by one.

Note: I will be continuing to blog on a daily basis while away and will do my best to impart some of what I will be learning during the training. Subscribe to the blog to have it delivered directly to your email.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd