Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Five Events Better Than the Creation of the LMU Teacher Credential Program.

          Well readers, 
Summer has come and gone. So to has my sanity, happiness, and well being in life.      

With this being stated, life is a lot better than last year. Really, life is a lot better. I think this is due to the fact that I have finally come to the conclusion that I am not solely responsible for my students horrible lives. In fact, I am one of the only people trying to make their lives better.
                With this in mind there are a few times throughout the week where life still blows. I mean its unavoidable when teaching special ed. I mean honestly, show me a teacher who is excited when he catches one of his children with their hands down their pants and I’ll show you a pedophile.  
                Anyway, readers there is one thing that I hate, more than anything in life. It is my master's program at LMU. I have compiled a couple of events throughout history that are better than the creation of such an evil program. 

                                                                     The Crusades.
Although thousands of innocent Muslims, Catholics, and Jews lost their lives in the countless crusades for Jerusalem, it still gave us Robin Hood and where would society be without Robin Hood?

The Hindenburg Disaster 
The narrator says "Oh the humanity" only once. I say it every time I am in class. 
This movie is really bad, but only hijacked an hour and a half of my life.


It's provided a lot of fodder for artists and theologians throughout the years, unlike LMU. 

This Picture that my Student Drew About the Holocaust 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sorry I'm not Sorry.

Dear Readers,
You may be wondering why I haven't written a blog post in a while. I've thought about why this is for a long while now. There is only one conclusion that I have come to. It is a simple one really. I am happy. I am happy with my life. I am satisfied with everything that is happening in my life, ---with the exception of attending Loyola Marymount University, which I will say should be eradicated from the face of this earth by a large typhoon, hurricane, earthquake, tornado, or fire. Really I cannot express how awful of a place this university is.---. But really besides this fact, I am happy with my life. For the first time since I can remember I am excited to be alive. I am grateful to God for each breath that I take and am thankful for this existence that we call life.
I was released from West Adams Prep in September. It was nothing that I did. The school enrollment fell and LAUSD told West Adams to get rid of one special education teacher. Luckily, I was the one. I left that hell hole and after a week stay as a teacher of the mentally retorted (which I plan on telling you guys about in another blog post) I landed a job as a resource specialist at the proud Legacy High School in Southgate.
The job is difficult, but in comparison to the hell that I had to go through on a daily basis at West Adams Prep, it is a freaking walk in the park. I do not enter my classroom fearing for my life and safety. I help children. I write IEP's and then I go home.
I'm not really dating anyone right now and I am not too concerned about doing so. I've gone on a few dates in the past few months. For instance, a couple of weeks ago I took out this girl who had curly dark hair. She looked like Julia Roberts, so I called her Afro Julia Roberts. I took another girl out who looks like a sexy cat, but for the most part I've just been hanging out with
This is a picture of me but with a beard and turtleneck.
and I am loving me time. 

Readers I am sorry that I haven't written to you. Actually I am not sorry, but I am sorry that I'm not sorry. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Stop Abuse

It has been an exciting weekend. After the BYU Cougars' defeat of the Texas Longhorns, I decided that it would be in my best interest to purchase a ticket up to the BYU Utah game. Of course, I knew that the Cougs' chances of beating the Utes were slim- not because they are an inferior team, but because the Cougs just can’t seem to beat the Utes. I don’t know what it is.

As I was watching the destruction of the Cougars at the hands of the Utes, the following thought popped into my mind: my relationship with the BYU Cougars is like unto the relationship of a woman who has been abused by her husband/boyfriend. BYU football is the abuser in this relationship and I am the abused. 

Like many who have been abused in their lives, they justify staying in the relationship because of the small acts of kindness shown by the other spouse. These small acts can be in the form of a hug, a kiss, or a kind word. Whatever it is, the event occurs sparingly, and for all those looking from the outside it is never enough to justify what else happens in the relationship. On occasion the Cougars will show me a kind act, such as winning a meaningless bowl game, beating up on a sub-par Texas team, or even coming up with a cool slogan such as “Rise Up.” These acts are enough to invoke happiness for a moment. It is enough to give hope that the relationship will turn. But then without notice and certainly without reason or provocation, the BYU Cougars will go on a metaphorical bender and start bludgeoning me over the head with a toaster.

Following the beating I begin to have ridiculous thoughts. “It's my fault," I think to myself, "If I was just a more devoted fan the Cougars would never have lost.” Despite what my friends may say, I will continue in this forsaken relationship because I believe I can change the outcome of another person's actions.

When the beating is really bad, I try swearing off the Cougars forever.  But it's right around this time that they go out and buy me flowers (or beat an FBS team), somehow making up for their previous shortcoming.  At other times I try to punish the Cougs by vowing to not watch the next game or by refusing to wear school apparel.  But just like a neglectful partner, they simply ignore the punishment and continue living their life as if I don’t exist. The fact that they don’t care about me makes me like them more.

Deep down I hate the Cougars. I hate them for who they are and what they do to me. I hate them for all the pain they have put me through. I hate them for how much they hate me.  Most of all, I hate the fact that I love them.

So readers, I share this with you:
Once every 12 minutes a fan is abused by the BYU Cougars.

Please talk to your children and friends about not becoming a Cougar fan.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

4 Ways of Changing the World

Hello and Greetings from South Central Los Angeles “Home of the Trojans and People Who’s Parents Probably Should Have Used One.”  I know what your thinking, “Rom, what the heck? Where has your blog been for the past six months?” I apologize to all of you for being unable to deliver, but I can promise you that it was because I was too busy. Now you may be asking yourself, “Busy…with what?” To which I would calmly answer “Saving lives… One student at a time.” So now you are probably thinking how selfish you are (as you should be), but I am forgiving. Instead of reprimanding you for attempting to prevent me from single handed closing the achievement gap and assuring that “One day…All students will receive access to a quality education.”  I will just tell you the top four ways my life has been changed by personally changing the way students learn.

Way #1: A deeper sense of belonging with My Teach for America team.  
You know teaching is a hard job. There would be some days when I wanted to give up. There were some days I wanted to stop trying to achieve the realistic and attainable vision of “One Day All Children Receiving an Equal Education.” But whenever that sense of discouragement got me down I knew one thing. The my support team would be there with a loving and concerned “Your not doing enough.” Or “I think you can do better than this.” Or even “You're gonna get fired.” I thank the TFA staff for never acknowledging the fact that I did anything right.  Just like the students that I serve, I believe that everyone needs to be told that they arn’t doing enough. Thank you for never allowing me to settle for any sense of self worth. 

Way #2 Scholastic Achievement.
When you first go into teaching you think that your students are going to be able to learn from you, but what I have learned is that the students have so much more to teach me then I ever could teach them. For instance,  I learned Spanish. “Pooto, Babosa, Pinnochi, Cuhelo, and Culo” are just a couple of the words that my students have taught me. Although I can't order anything off of the menu at a Mexican restaurants I know how to make a back alley drug deal.   

Way #3 Fernasco Gonsalves 
While there are many people that deserve a thank you for making this year, without a doubt, the greatest experience of my entire life, there is only one person that will receive direct praise. He will be given this praise for the intricate role he had in the joy of my life. I have always been told that when life gives you lemons you make lemonade, but Fernasco Gonsalves (name changed so I won't get sued) taught me that "when life gives you lemons, let a three hundred pound Guatemalan tackle you to the floor." Many people told me to look at the glass half full, but Fernasco taught me to break the glass and shank your teacher with one of the shards.  Whether it was the daily greeting of "F*ck you Mr. Evans you're the sh*ttiest teacher ever," a flash of a gang sign, or a shank with a paper clip, Fernasco Gonsalves knew how to really make a teacher feel loved.  

Actual 2 in 1 toothbrush and Shiv that Fernasco uses to brush his teeth 
and stab people 

Way #4 Intellectual Stimulation at Loyola Marymount University 
I have attended a great number of institutions in my day, but there has never been one so helpful, useful, promising, and influential the LMU Masters program in Special Education . Now, with a busy schedule of teaching 6 hrs a day, lesson planning three distinct and different lessons each day, writing 18 IEP (legal documents created for students with autism and emotional disturbance in my classroom)  you may be thinking that being a full time master student in a subject that you have never had any desire to be in would be almost unbearable. Well that would probably be true, were it not for the fact that I attended the greatest university and had the best professors on the planet. Whether it was senile professors talking about how they understand seven different languages or 50 year old professors who suffer from self inflicted facial paralja in a scanty and pathetic attempt to hide the fact that they are an over the hill divorced woman, I knew one thing. This something made the extra twelve hours a week that I spent sitting in a classroom worth it. I knew that every Monday and Wednesday spent at Loyola Marymount University would not be an absolute waste of life. I knew that these classes were not at worthwhile as watching paint dry on the side of a barn door. 

So readers that is what I have been up to. That is why I haven't been able to write as much as I wanted to. I've been too busy having fun and changing lives. When your life is going well, maybe when you have just flunked that test you have been wanting to flunk for so long, or maybe when your job is going a lot longer then you originally expected and you are super stoked about it, remember Rom's life is a lot better than yours. 

Stay sweet and try and change the world 

                                                                 Mr. E chillen with the homies in SDC

Big Shout out to Brittany Koralewski for telling me to asking me to write in my blog again. No Brittany I don't think you're creepy for saying that I should write in my blog again. I actually found it super hot. 

Love Rom. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My General Conference

Greetings from Los Angeles California "where the weather is warm and the people are cold." While Los Angeles is not notorious for being unkind and aloof, I found that this place rivals any place that I experienced on my mission. From lower Delaware to upper Allentown, all people were cold, but with a few questions about themselves they would warm up and eventually start talking about you. However, in Los Angeles I keep trying to talk to people and it is to no avail. All are entirely too busy to ever stop and talk with you. Of course, the initial interaction between the two of you those talking in Los Angeles may be a bit better than those proud citizens of Philadelphia, but for the most part it is pretty much the same. 
Perhaps the reason why the people I talk to here are cold is because they are employed by the great and abominable church, more commonly known by the title LAUSD.  To be candid, I have never seen a group of more miserable individuals than those that witness on a daily business at my work. Everyone looks and acts like death. It is uncanny and unsettling. 
 Although the misery varies from person to person, there are certain classifications or groups that individuals fall into. There is the disgruntled  and apathetic educator, who tends not to give two winks about a student, yet miraculously complains about how he is underpaid and overworked. There are the kid haters. Yes, those easily angered individuals who hate children and as a result have paradoxically decided to join a profession that is completely dedicated to helping the individuals who they hate. There are the young bucks, the group with which I am a part of. We tend to be more optimistic regarding the future, probably because we have yet to experience what it entails,  but we are so overworked and busy spending every waking moment preparing our next lesson ever to truly be joyful in the profession that we have chosen. 
Then there is the old soldier. They are the individuals who have been through the ringer. They have fought the good fight and warred the good war. They may be good at their job. They may be bad at their job. One thing they all are, is aware of the year, the hour, and the minute that their retirement kicks in and when they may be able to abandon the losing battle of educational equality. 
  One would believe that the extraordinary teachers would be satisfied with their job; however,  the truth of the matter is quite the contrary. They are tortured just like the rest of us. Maybe even more. Their torture is rooted in the kids who are unable to get it. Regardless of what they have done and how many children have succeeded because of them, they always tend to focus upon the ones that failed. 
There is one teacher at my school, Ms. Hasarjan, who is incredible  She is an inspiration to anyone who would see her classroom. I have never seen a math teacher try so hard and care so much. Regardless of this fact, she still focuses on what she has not done and has not succeeded in. 
The only group that seems to be exempt from complaining and negativity are the Asian math teachers. I think this is more a cultural thing than anything else. That's why I admire Asians so much.  They just show up, go to work, do their work and then go home. Seldom, if ever, do they lament. However, I have caught them complaining every so often.   
 I don't know the cause of the pessimism that pervades public education in Los Angeles. Perhaps it is due to the fact that the school district is just so poorly run. Maybe it is a reflection of the lives of the children that we teach. It could even be as simple as the fact that it is human nature to focus on what is not; rather than what is. Whatever the reason, I know that I am affected by it. 
  I am in the roughest of environments and in the midst of toughest thing I have ever had to do. I see pessimism and failure all around me. What keeps me going through all of this is the hope of the gospel. I know that it is true. I know that the church is what unites families. I know that it brings happiness to all those who live it. I've known this for five years now. I have known it since I sat at a small chapel on 143 Dickenson Ln. in a small suburb of Wilmington, Delaware. I saw a prophet of God address me from a far off land and bare testimony of his apostolic calling. It has been five years since this and every moment since that time I have known and I pray that I always will know that the gospel of Christ has been restored to the earth by a prophet of God. May the happiness of the gospel shine through me and I pray that others will see the joy that I have experienced from the truth. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013


I had the craziest experience today. well actually in the big scheme of things, its really not that big. I mean its not like a student poured an entire vile of rubbing alcohol on my desktop. Its not like a student lied to me and told me that he had told the principle that I had punched him. Its not like any of those things happened to me today. So I guess you could say that it is not even close to the craziest experience i have had. In fact, I dare say that what happened to me today was pretty normal in my life.

I took a Yoga class.
 My instructor's name was John. John was perhaps the quintessential yoga instructor. He had curly brown hair that was tucked behind a blue bandanna  He was well toned and muscular. He skin was tan; as if he had spent the past five months smoking weed shirtless and then performing strange Yoga possess in some of America's most desolate and , in his opinion, most beautiful deserts. I have no doubt that he calls both the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree, home. I also have no doubt that he worships the pagan gods of fire, earth, wind, and water.
Picture of John and Friends in smoking hippie pose

I also have no doubt about one other thing. John completes me. After doing an hour of Yoga, I have been emancipated from the cares and worries of my existence. Following sixty minutes of controlled breathing and closed eyes I have transcended the worries that have kept me bound. The countless number of upward and downward facing dogs, warrior 1,2, and 3, plank, and purring cat poses have lifted me into a higher level of consciousness. John told me that every time I breath in deeply I need to remember life and be grateful for every breath that we have been given and so readers I have decided that I am going to turn over a new leaf and start getting my yoga on.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

5 Things New Teachers Shouldn't Do

Dear readers,

                The fresh aroma of newly cooked rice juxtaposed with the bitter and harsh smell of bootleg tobacco from the People’s Republic of China tickle my olfactory senses as I write this post. I guess it is one of the few perks of moving into a house where two foreign exchange students who don’t speak a lick of English reside.  Other perks would be the chance that I have to attempt to learn a new language, the ability to appreciate new music, and the ability to develop patience for not being able to know what is going on inside my own home. Oh, I forgot to mention the relative sense of isolation and introspection that comes with the territory of living with people who don’t understand you, or care to. Move over Waldon Pond and step aside Mr. Thoreau, there is a new sheriff in town; his name is RoJo and he's writing a book called On Ellendale Road.
Actual Picture of me and my roomates

                Anyway teaching is going well, I guess. I mean how well can it go when you’re a first year teacher at an SDC school? The answer is very well. I just wanted to write to my followers, of which I have none at the present moment, and tell them the one piece of advice.

                Don’t flash gang signs when your students do.

You may be thinking, “Of course not… You’ll get shot.”

I am also here to debunk that myth. I am here to disabuse you of that utterly false notion. You will not get shot. At least not by your students. In fact your students will laugh. You will laugh. The class will laugh together. Then they will stop respecting you as a teacher and subsequently stop treating you like a human being.
actual picture of me throwing gang signs with students

Here are five other things you shouldn’t do as a teacher

Allow students to choose their seats.

Call students by the wrong names.

Laugh when your students say innapropriate jokes.

Catch Carlos with his hands down his pants  (not doing anything, just kind of chillin' there).

 Forget about Carlos’ hands being in his pants and shake his hand goodbye.

Well, until next time Readers

Stay sweet.

Actual picture of me as the pope

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Hammer

For the first time in more than 6th months there is something positive to report.
My kids are learning something. Not only are they learning something, I have dropped the Hammer on them. It is great. 
If there is one thing that I have been struggling with since being a teacher, it is the fact that I can't discipline a single soul. This does not bode well when you consider that the only difference between my children and individuals of the California State penal system are a couple of years, a few counts of man slaughter, and the occasional tear drop tattoo. 
For the majority of the entire last semester my students went ape sheet. 
With a teacher who granted such liberties as speaking in class without raising your hand, standing up and using a pencil sharpener without asking, and putting on your makeup while your teacher lectures, the students were finding it hard to stay on task. As the semester progressed, we had a couple more incidents. Studnts began to start walking in and out of class, inviting their friends to class, running around the school unattended, and occasionally bringing a camalback full of Vodka in the classroom.  
Things have changed this semester. Mr. Evans has been inspired by a couple of things. First Mr. Evans saw this YouTube Video Kudos Jamison Sheffer

I thought this was pretty funny and wasn't really effective, so I didn't do it. Then I met the real life, female, dread-lock version of this man. Her name is Mama Payne and she brought the mother freaking hammer. 
Not a real picture of Mama Payne
The first time that I observed Mama Payne throw down the hammer I crapped my pants. Some kid was chewing gum in her classroom and she lost her freaking religion. How do I know that she lost her religion? She told me, the rest of the class, and most certainly the kid chewing gum that she had lost it. All the fury and might that a sixty year old black woman could muster came out on this one kid. Within five minutes the entire classroom was silent. At the end of this and everyone of her rants Mama Payne asks the student "Are you gonna make me bring the Payne?"  Without question the student replies with a "no" 
"No... No What?" replies Mama Payne
Following this, the student replies with a "No Mama Payne please don't bring the Payne" each and every time. 
As time has progressed I have started copying what Mama Payne says. I don't have a cool way to threaten children with my last name, but I do my best to sound like a sixty year old black woman and it usually does the trick.

Anyway my classroom is a much happier place when I "Bring the Payne." 
next time 
Going Ape Sheet so my children don't have to.