A Day in The Life – January 3, 2023

Jan 3, 2023 | Day in the Life, Uncategorized | 12 comments

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Exciting times in the Schenectady School District today!

I am a volunteer reader at two of the city’s elementary schools. On Tuesdays I work with a second grader and a third grader, both boys. This is the second year I’ve worked with the third grader. I went to the second grader first. It’s his birthday, and he was so proud. He was wearing all Michael Jordan apparel, from head to toe. This young man lives with his aunt because his parents were arrested for selling drugs. (His teacher didn’t know, when she assigned him to me, that I raised two of my nieces because my sister was arrested for dealing drugs. What a coincidence…)

This young man is actually a great reader and doesn’t need my help on that score; however, because he’s so advanced, he is capable of causing trouble in the classroom. He loves sports, and he and I talk a lot about sports when I’m there. Today he was upset about the 24-year-old Buffalo Bills player who had a heart attack in Cincinnati last night. He admitted to me that his aunt had to have surgery a few weeks ago to have a defibrillator implanted so that she won’t have a heart attack. He’s worried about her after having seen that. But he did his reading with me and told me how excited he is about his birthday party tonight at a trampoline place.

Then, I went upstairs to the third grader. His reading has improved but he’s still a beginning reader. He loves books from the Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold. I found a book about Van Gogh, also written by Tedd Arnold. He read the book by sounding out words, then at the end, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting was on the last page. “That painting is on my math book,” he said. He went back into his classroom and showed me that indeed that painting IS on the cover of his math book. The explanation by the math book publisher indicated that there’s a relationship between Van Gogh and math is that on “Starry Night,” Van Gogh used many concentric circles. “You learned a
lot today about reading and art,” I said. “Yeah, I did,” he replied.

But the most exciting thing was when an announcement came over the loud speaker: “ATTENTION: ALL AVAILABLE ADULTS, REPORT TO THE OFFICE!” I thought, “I’m an available adult but I’m not getting into THIS.” Then, another announcement: “ATTENTION, TEACHERS: NO BATHROOM PASSES ARE TO BE ISSUED.”
Three minutes went by. “ATTENTION: ALL CLASSROOMS ARE UNDER LOCKDOWN NOW UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.” I was in the hallway with one of my students. Of course, I’m thinking about school shootings, and maybe worse. I went into the classroom, not knowing what was coming next.


I went down to the office to sign out. I discovered that a student had left the building without permission. He ran out without a coat; he was wearing crocs. The school’s cameras caught him running out but couldn’t catch the direction in which he went. Two Schenectady police officers were also in the office.

This may be too much excitement for one day. I think I need a nap!


  1. Blair Dee

    sample comment from Blair

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    Test comment 🙂

  3. Yvette M Calleiro

    Welcome to my life, Wanda! Lol! I teach middle school intensive reading, so they are a bit older than the kids you mentor, but they still struggle with reading. Drills for code reds, code yellows, and fires take place every month. It’s disruptive and nerve-wrecking, but unfortunately, they have become necessary. I’m hope they found the kid quickly and am happy that someone was monitoring the cameras. That is not always the case. Kudos to you for volunteering your time to make a difference in the lives of kids. I know those kids appreciate you.

    Yvette M Calleiro

    • Wanda Fischer

      Thanks, Yvette! I love these kids. I just wish I had more time to give them. I don’t know who gets more out of this, them or me.

  4. Patty Perrin

    Hi, Wanda,

    What an exciting day. Was the runaway student found? Your second grader sounds like he’s wise beyond his years. He’s so young to be worrying about his aunt’s heart condition. Your third grader is smart, too, to have understood that connection between math, his reading, and Van Gogh’s painting. What a blessing you are to your two nieces! You have a great heart. Blessings!

    • Wanda Fischer

      They never told me if they found the child, but I didn’t read anything in the newspaper about him this morning, so I’d say they probably did. These kids are really amazing. I’m concerned that people prejudge them because they go to an inner-city school. Both of my children graduated from this same school system. My daughter earned three master’s degrees in education and my son’s an attorney. It’s not the school district; it’s the child and whether or not he/she gets support at home.

  5. Susanne Leist

    School is so much different now than in the past. I’d love to be a voluntary reader at a school; I must look into this. Thank you for letting us know about Starry Night’s concentric circles. I will never look at the picture the same way again.

    • Wanda Fischer

      Hi Susanne–I won’t, either. I went to an immersive Van Gogh exhibition in Schenectady late last year. It was phenomenal. I hadn’t thought about concentric circles, but they’re in Van Gogh’s work. The other one I thought of was the way in which he used rectangles in some of his representations of planting in farm scenes. How intelligent these kids are!

  6. Donna Atwood Manobianco

    Hi Wanda, Donna Atwood here. My goodness, that was a lot of excitement for one day! I loved learning about Van Gogh on the math book as I really appreciate his art. (Also, the concentric ring-thing never would have occurred to me!) Haha! By the way, I used to live in Guilderland. Upstate NY is absolutely beautiful! Enjoy your day : )

  7. Nonnie Jules

    Hi, Wanda! I left a really detailed comment on this post. I sure hope that you can get your tech guy to try and find those comments that were left that didn’t make it onto your blog. There were more than just mine.

    Thanks, Wanda!

    ~Nonnie Jules

  8. Shirley Harris-Slaughter

    Wanda, I think I’m going to need a nap after reading about your day. You are so interesting and energetic. I like that!


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