Educational Articles

Please note Cucamonga is the fictional name for Kakiat Junior High school which did not appear in the original novel to protect innocent teachers and students and administration.

Pelham Mead.

Many Kakiat JHS students remember John Carucci, Social Studies teacher; Rick Knapp, Science Teacher, Pelham Mead, Phys. Ed. and Health Teacher, Al Malden, Social Studies teacher; Ricky Bernstein and Naomi Newman, Female Phys. Ed. teachers, Mark Katz, Football coach and PE teacher, Gerald Levitus, Coach and PE teacher, Becky Mason, Music Teacher, Tom Spalding, English teacher, Phil Spina, English teacher, Julia Tilley, English Teacher, Rhonda Schaeffer, Special Ed. teacher, Ellie Carucci, Special Ed. teacher assistant, Frank DeCarlo, Dept. chair of the English department; Bob Dilley, Basketball coach and PE teacher; Herman Stoval, Guidance counselor, Henry Cozart, Assistant Principal, Gerald Pollak, Principal; Ray Chisamore, Principal; Nina Agresta, Art Teacher and many more.
Educational Articles

Chapter 3- The Junior High

by Dr. Pelham Mead.

Chapter 3- School Politics

We had three Principals in 30 years. The first principal lasted five years and the second principal lasted seven years, and the last principal 17 years until a heart attack forced him to retire. The first principal was “old school,” meaning he was from the old style of running a building. Originally he was an Assistant Principal at another building. He had transferred from the oldest junior high in the district to this new building in 1960. By the time he became Principal he was already in his late 60’s. He brought with him his buddies from the other Junior High to serve as Department chairman with a relatively new faculty. With few exceptions Cucamonga JHS opened with 90% new teachers hired from NYC or just out of college. The first few years were difficult because the building was still being finished around the students and teachers in the finished classrooms. In 1965 an extension was finished just  five years after the building was opened. A pool was supposed to be built in the inner courtyard of the building extension but it was voted down by the community. The population double every year with students transferring from New York City schools to the country where parents believed they could get a good education for their children instead of teacher strikes and gang violence.

By 1969 the first Principal was gone due to gang fights and bad publicity. The school board pushed him out thinking he was too old in his late 60’s to take control of a junior high.

The second Principal was a Physical education teacher previously, and then an assistant principal until he was fired. When he applied for the Cucamongo JHS job, he was working in a shirt factory. The school board wanted a puppet they could control, and he was just the man. This principal was a man in his forties with no leadership ability at all. He simply did not know how to please the Teachers Union and get his own way at the same time. He fought the Teachers Union at every turn and lost. He did not appreciate the power of informal structure at a school and thought that he could control everything by formal rules. He did not have any friends on the faculty and few of the teachers had any respect for him. During his tenure as Principal all hell broke loose with control of the students and a lack of discipline, drug problems, politics, threatened teacher strikes and other board imposed rules. The fact that the Teachers Union almost went out on strike in the early 1970’s showed that there was a big gap between the administration and the teachers. Threatened teacher strikes are bad for business, bad for the parents, bad for the students, and bad for the atmosphere in the school system. Everything begins to break down when rules are applied and benefits in health begin to shrink and the cost of living far exceeds the amount of pay the teachers were getting. All of these problems transferred themselves back to the Principal. Many teachers stood up to the Principal and  refused to do what he asked. He tried to fire them but the Teachers Union protected them and he lost all the battles. The Principal also had a poor relationship with the President of the PTA and the PTA lost a lot of members because of his lack of support to PTA sponsored events.  To gain the respect of the student body he arranged a Judo and Karate demonstration in which he participated with some of the teachers and students. Basically he made a fool of himself. At the Halloween party he was seen trying to impress some of the new female teachers even though he was married. At the Christmas party for the teachers he got drunk and made a fool of himself calling another teacher names. No one forgot that embarrassing and immature occasion at the Christmas party. After two years he has lost all credibility with the teachers and often had to take attendance at faculty meeting because more and more teachers simply did not come to the meetings anymore. He also tried to use the security guards as his spies around the building which put the security guards in  a bad position with the teachers who never trusted them. Eventually with the tensions of no teacher contracts for three years, pending strike threats, no salary increases, the Union reps began to take over the school on an informal basis. They called the shots on whether teachers were going to attend after school sports events or volunteer for extra assignments. It was a “work to rule,” slow down and the word professionalism went into the garbage can. The board said the teachers should volunteer to do more with no pay and they called that professionalism. They insisted on faculty meetings going beyond two hours on a school day after hours, or coming into “back to School night” to volunteer their time to meet with parents.

When teachers work to rule all the extras are thrown out the window. It is amazing how much extra stuff teachers do like paying for classroom supplies out of their own pockets, or buying a pizza for a class that did well on a test, or taking a student home who had missed the bus, or cleaning up when a mess was made in a classroom, the list goes on and on.

Finally after seven years of total decline the second Principal of Cucamonga JHS retired to Florida never to be seen again.

The third principal came after seven years of decline in the reputation of the school and the deceasing enrollment. He came from a New York City school in Brooklyn where he was a social studies teacher who joined the ranks of administrators as an assistant Principal. Coming to Cucamonga JHS would be the biggest challenge of his life. He was a bald Jewish guy with a great sense of humor. When he first arrived he was shunned by many of the teachers because of the bad experiences they had with the previous Principal. He had his work cut out for him.

Enrollment dropped 50 students a year beginning in 1977 and continued into the 1990’s to an all time low of 440 students total. The faculty dropped from 120 teachers over 30 years to only 48 teachers with a lot of part-timers. Three threatened teacher strikes had occurred over the past 15 years. It was a bad time for education in High Mountain school district.

The first thing the third principal did was make changes formally and informally. Old bad habits and rules were dropped. The sign in procedure became more relaxed than before. Teachers were treated with more respect than before. Th security staff changed and their attitudes change as well as their job functions. They were no longer used as spies for the Principal. The organization of the front office changed and the swing gate was removed and the general appearance of the main office became more inviting. Faculty meetings changed with Teacher Union pre-meetings having less and less to complain about. Some older teachers were pushed out and many new teachers were hired to replace them. A Principal’s cabinet was formed for the first time in the history of the school. It consisted of one person from every department and one  security guard and one custodian as well as one parent representative. Their duty was to make new and positive policies for the school and seek out new ways of improving the school learning environment and community image. It worked very well. Teachers and staff felt they had a say in things for the first time in many years. The school applied for the NY State outstanding school award in 1986 and won the recognition in a ceremony at Albany in the spring of 1987. It was a major positive step forward for Cucamonga JHS.

With every Principal comes politics both formal and informal.  The Teacher Union has a certain degree of power in representing teachers in conferences with the Principal and demanding changes that the teachers want. Every Principal handles Union reps differently and for each of the three Principals of Cucamonga Junior high the politics differed. With the first “old school” Principal he ignored the union reps as best he could. He seldom kept them informed and tried to fire teachers without proper documentation. The second Principal lost all control of the faculty and the Union reps were basically running the school with informal control. Whatever the Union wanted the teachers Union got. When the Principal wanted teachers to sign in before 9:05 at the beginning of the day the Union said there were legitimate exceptions and signing in at 9:05 exactly could not be required.

To prove the point all the teachers were asked by the Union reps to line up outside the school except those on bus duty and wait until 9:05 and then enter the building and sign in on the attendance sheet. The whole process took 30 minutes and many teachers were late to homeroom so the attendance that day was very inaccurate. The principal gave in on the sign in issue at 9:05 and the Union won.

         During the monthly faculty meetings the Union got an hour to meet with the teachers before the Principal could come in and run the meeting. More was done during the Union portion of the meeting than the Principal’s portion of the meeting.

Coaches were always excused from faculty meetings since they were out on the fields coaching at the time of the meetings or in the gyms.

         Politics always came into place when things went wrong. Whenever there was a problem the principal would try to create a rule after the fact. When teachers were told they could not close their doors they put a match book in the doorway. When the principal began peeking in the small door window at teachers in their class, the teachers put up artwork of paper to block the window view. One teacher had a real toilet in his classroom and all the windows were painted in psychedelic motifs, peace signs, flowers, stain glass designs, and skulls. No one was ever forced to take down their classroom artwork no matter how weird except on back to school night when the parents came in to hear about the school and their children’s progress. Then the posters were taken down, the toilet hidden in a closet, and the window artwork cover over with paper classwork. It was a big game to the teachers and administrators.

         There were very few black teachers in the 1970’s in Cucamonga Junior high, mostly because it was expensive to live in Mountain High community and because there were mostly all Jewish students and very few black students. White administrators were afraid of black teachers and black power, which was the popular theme in the 1970’s so, rather than ask for problems they did not hire black teachers. We had two male black teachers and both were science teachers. One black teacher was from Mississippi and he shuddered in a southern accent. He was also an alcoholic. His students all suffered and did poorly in science especially on departmental tests. The other black teacher turned out to be a militant black person who had fooled the administration into thinking he was a black guy with white values. Needless to say it was impossible to fire them or the NAACP would be at the building in a heartbeat. White administrators were afraid to fire poorly performing black teachers for fear of being called a bigot and getting fired after community outrage ran it’s course. 

         Poorly performing white teachers had a different standard and could be easily harassed and constantly evaluated in order to create a file of information to support them being fired at the end of the year. One such teacher was a business teacher in his early 60’s whom the principal at the time did not like and thought his teaching was out of style. He sent in the assistant principals on three occasions in just one month to evaluate him, (that was technically illegal by Union standards). The poor man was so stressed that he had a heart attack in the classroom, and died. No administrators were brought to bear for causing his heart attack but the teachers all knew the real story. It was a sad time in Cucamonga JHS history.

         Politics were in play when it came to getting tenure or promotions. Being appointed to being a department chairman was all about politics since they were the sub managers that helped the Principal run the school and they had to be loyal to the Principal or the supervision structure fell apart. Department chairman were picked for their loyalty that mean they were always “brown nosing the Principal.” We called it kissing ass. If you didn’t want to kiss ass then you never got promoted. It was a plain fact of the game of teaching and administration. 

         There were two rulebooks, first the administrator’s rulebook pertaining to other administrators, and what they could get away with; and then there was the teachers’ rulebook, which was completely different. The teachers had more rules formal and informal than the administrators. The administrators could “do not wrong” as was the political thought. The teachers were always wrong. Wrong when a student complained how a teacher was treating them, wrong when a student made up a story about a teacher to get even, and wrong when a teacher was accused of abusing a student. Just being accused of a case of misconduct meant you were guilty before being charged. Teachers had to be on their guard both for students who make up stories, and administrators that make up stories.

         When the Assistant Principal in charge of class scheduling was assigning teachers to classes they could give a teacher a “killer schedule with three classes in a row and a late lunch. They could make sure that they did not get the last period of the day off so they could not leave early for coaching for instance. The union did not allow four periods in a row to be taught, however a teacher could sign away his rights and teach four in a row to get out of school earlier than other teachers. Many a new teacher faded a few months into the fall from having a multi-ability classes such as a below level science class first period, an on level science class second period and an Earth Science regents class and lab the third period. Each of these tracts required a separate preparation and a separate lesson plan to be written each day each week. Some new teachers spent the entire weekend each week writing their lesson plans to keep up with the stress of preparing separate level lessons.

         Politics and favoritism when hand in hand. Those who “kissed ass” got easy duty assignments, such as hall duty where they sat and worked on their paper work or bus duty before school. The worse assignments were lunch duty where food fights occurred, and physical fights between students were a weekly happening. Teachers attempting to break up fights usually got injured themselves. One teacher walked into the teacher cafeteria  after café duty with peaches sliding down his tie after a food fight. It was a sight to see and all of the teachers laughed. If you wanted to be removed from lunch duty you had to work at doing the worse job possible without being cited at the same time. Reading the New York Times was always a technique that pissed off the assistant principal. Sitting down while on duty was another ‘NO, NO.” Eating on duty in the lunchroom or drinking coffee was also not allowed. You just had to come late and leave early to make the assistant principal think you were the teacher from hell in the lunchroom. Usually it took a year to convince them that there was no way they wanted you in the lunchroom because you did everything wrong. 

Bus duties were assigned every six weeks before school, and after school to assist the administrators in controlling the students getting on or off the busses and in preventing fights or accidents. Every six weeks a teacher could be assured that they would get bus duty on top of their daily duty period. If you did not show up you got a bad memo in your file. A stack of bad memos could lead to a poor evaluation at the end of the year. This was how the administrators kept teachers in line with the threat of fear and being fired.

         Politics often came into play when parents were friends of the Superintendent or high up administrator. One set of parents requested from the Superintendent of the District to allow their daughter to miss the first period of school to attend skating lessons because she was an Olympic hopeful. The Superintendent was also requested to give the girl an automatic Physical Education grade. The Principal was told what to do and he told the Physical Education Department chairperson to tell the teacher assigned to the girl to put down a passing grade even though the girl never showed up for class. This was a violation of the district attendance and grading laws, however the Superintendent demanded that the schoolteachers cooperate. All of the teachers refused to give the girls a grade and left her name with no grade on the grading sheets. The Principal himself had to add the grade since he could not force the teachers who told the Union rep of the violation. Just everyday politics flowing downhill as they always do in education.

         Politics came into play depending upon whether the parent who came into school to complain was a community activator, a lawyer, and white at the same time. Poor parents from Hatia got treated differently than parents who were professionals and white. Indian and Chinese parents were also treated poorly unless they were community leaders with some power. What was called smoking pot for one student was called misuse of medicines for another student. When teachers caught a student smoking marijuana or using it or selling it they called in the parents for a conference. When the parents came in they threatened to sue the Principal, the teachers, and the district. When Nurses turned in a student for drinking they would not sign a statement to that effect because they were afraid of being sued. Many drug abuses of children of wealthy parents were covered up by administrators driving the student home and not making a federal case out of the drug abuse. It was an unequal system from the get go. 

         Politics could make or break a school and in the case of Cucamongo Junior high and with poor management the reputation of the school went rapidly down hill when students who were no allowed to publish stories in the school went to the local newspaper outside the school and got their uninformed stories published, and community people reading these stories actually believed them. It was a crime that many good teachers were afraid to work at Cucamonga Junior high because of its poor reputation in the community.

         Despite the attempts by the administration to control the politics at Cucamonga JHS their attempts never worked. The teachers were the soldiers in the trenches and the administration was the captains in the warm headquarters. Teaching can be a very isolated career once those doors are closed the teacher is in a world of their own. Administrators used to be teachers but for some reason they forgot what it is like teaching in a classroom.

Educational Articles

Update on my blog.

by Dr. Pelham Mead.

I will be posting all of the chapters of my novel, The Junior High, the secret affairs of Kakiat JHS, Spring Valley, New York, 1960-1998.

Chapter 2- Big Breasted Ronnie Bronson

Public school in New York traditionally starts one or two days after Labor Day in September. The day before that however, is the annual Superintendent’s Conference in which all teachers, administrators, and staff personnel are required to attend. In the morning the Superintend of Schools makes his speech on the condition of the district and important considerations such as student enrollment increase or decline. After 1970 the enrollment peaked at Mountain High School District somewhere in the northern part of New York State. The three junior highs were packed with 1600 students each in buildings that were designed for only 1,000 students. The high schools had so many students that they went on split shifts in which the Seniors and Juniors came in at 7:00 am and left at 12:30 pm, and the Sophomores and transfer students came in at 8:00 and stayed until 1:30. This allowed the two high schools Mountain High North and Mountain High South to fit in more students over a shortened day to allow for sports in the afternoons.

In the afternoon of each Superintendent’s conference each school had a faculty meeting in their own building with the Principal setting the agenda. This was the opportunity for the tenured older teachers to check out the new younger teachers that were mostly just out of college, and a few young transfer teachers.

Mr. Worley the principal first welcomes all the teachers back and then introduces all the new teachers to the staff. “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, Welcome back to Cucamonga Junior High. I hope you had a satisfying and enjoying summer vacation. We administrators came back in August to set up the new course schedule and assign teachers to all the classes. This year we have gone from 80 teachers to 120 teachers due to the increased enrollment over the past summer. I want to introduce my two assistant principals, Mrs. Weiser and Mr. Dumfound. Mrs. Weiser as you know is in charge of the Guidance department and scheduling. Mr. Dumfound is in charge of the school budget, purchasing of supplies and inventory in the school.” “Does anyone have any questions so far?”

A few wise cracking older male teachers in the far back corner of the library were commenting to themselves as Principal Worley introduced the new teachers. “Mrs. Ella Weisenfeld will be one of the new science teachers,” said Mr. Worley. Bill Seeker leaned over to his friend Dick Nipp and said, “she looks like she lifts weights,” and they both laughed quietly. After ten more introductions the new Physical Education woman teacher was introduced. “…And I have the pleasure of introducing Mrs. Ronnie, Bronson our new woman’s Physical Education teacher. Mrs. Bronson will you please stand.” Said Mr. Worley. “Holy crap Dick did you see the tits on that woman? Wow, she must be at least a 46 triple D cup, and she has the guts to wear a sweater,” said Bill. Dick laughed and said, “You are right Bill she really has a set.” So began the era of Mrs. Ronnie “big chest” Bronson. When ever she came into the teachers café all the men would get whiplash turning their heads so quickly to watch her enter the room with the luncheon tray held outside her large breasts. She always dressed well in sweat suits and sneakers, although once in a while she would forget and wear shin high boots. The Physical Education department chairman Sam Goldman was an elderly guy who always treated the woman Physical Education teachers as second-rate teachers. They always got the old equipment, never the new equipment. The new smaller gym in the back was called the girls gym and they were sent back there to conduct their classes. When the boys played basketball they go the larger front gym known as the boy’s gym and the girls got the smaller back gym called the girls gym. Ronnie changed a lot of that. For the first time in history the school Sam brought some new volleyballs and new basketballs over to the woman’s Physical Education office to get on Ronnie’s good side. He was fawning all over her so much it was embarrassing for the rest of the staff. She played him for all his was worth. Even though Sam was married with 5 kids it seemed to make no difference.

It was the fall of 1970 and it looked like it was going to be a most interesting year. Having a teacher that was actually pretty looking and not butch looking in Physical Education was a real novelty. At this point in time gym classes were separated as to gender. Girls took attendance in all girl classes and played only girls sports and the boys likewise sat in lines of all boys and played only boys sports. There was no such thing as coed sports at that time in history. It wasn’t until a few years later that a Federal Title 9 rule came down from the Federal government to the State government and on down to every school district in every State in the United States. Girls were to have equal facilities, equal equipment, and equal training and all classes were to be coed taught by both woman and men. The biggest impact of the new Federal ruling was that the women P.E. teachers had to learn how to teacher Football, Soccer, Softball, and Track and Field as well as coed Volleyball. The equipment changed too. It wasn’t possible to have girls playing touch football with rubber footballs or leather footballs. They would break a nail or a finger trying to catch these hard balls. So the decision was made to use a soft foam ball called a Nerf Football. They also came in a smaller easier to throw size.

Likewise, Soccer on a coed basis had to convert to using a Nerf Soccer ball to avoid injuries. Girls weren’t forced to play with the boys; they had an option to play Soccer or football with the boys or the girls. The tougher girls choose to play with the boys, and the less tough girls choose to play amongst themselves. Field hockey and wrestling were considered not capable of being coed and were dropped from the curriculum. The field hockey program was really dropped because there were not enough field hockey sticks to equip an entire Physical Education program of 1600 students. 

Back to 1970 at Cucamonga Junior high school. Junior or new teachers usually have mentors to help them learn the policies and procedures in the school. A mentor usually showed them how to write a lesson plan and how to complete their weekly course lesson plan that was evaluated by the Department chairperson each week. Techniques of teaching and handling large classes of 32 students were demonstrated and the new teachers followed their mentor’s lead. Sometimes the mentor was a male teacher and the new teacher was a female and one thing led to another and a few months into the term a relationship had developed. There were a lot of secret romances going on in the school between younger teachers and older teachers. Seldom did younger teachers get to associate with other younger teachers except in the faculty cafeteria during lunch.

Ronnie became the fashion expert of the school. She wore outfits that would always accentuate her large breasts and loved the looks she got from all the male teachers. She was the first teacher I ever saw that could teach in a sweater indoors and not break a sweat. The gym was always hot from the skylights and being close to the school boilers across the hall. T-shirts worked best indoors and sweat suits or matching warm-up suits were good for outdoors. The men traditionally work gray or blue P.E. instructor pants with a black or white stripe down the sides of the pants. The women including Ronnie wore what ever they wanted including a skirt and heels sometimes. The oldest woman in the PE department had a major drinking problem and misses at least one day a week due to her drinking problem. What made things worse is she would come in wearing heels and a skirt even when the classes were going outdoors. It was a sight to see when we went outdoors and she always got stuck in the mud with her high heels. Her name was Elise Greenberg and she had been at the school for ten years.  Anyone teaching with her always learned to take the attendance himself or herself and go outdoors with the class and hope that Elise would soon follow. Taking out close to 80 girls at one time was a real challenge for some of the woman P.E. teachers. The class was supposed to be split into two classes of 40 each but for convenience they grouped the whole girls sections together. The boys’ classes did the same.

Ronnie was selected to be the Cheerleader coach because she was the only person in the school interested in coaching the girl Cheerleaders. Many male teachers made it their business to drop by the gym after school to watch the try-outs for the Cheerleading team. Watching Ronnie jumping up and down for the girls and her huge breasts practically knocking herself out from bouncing around was a site to see.

The process of Cheerleading selection was an exercise in racism in 1970. Seldom did a black girl every make the team. What he or she wanted was an all white girls cheerleading team that could do all the typical rah, rah, rah, cheers with no black emotionalism or jive talk. Panels of white male and female classroom teachers were asked to volunteer to help select the 15 girl cheerleading squat. Naturally the pretty little white girls always performed the appropriate cheers and the black girls always added clapping and stomping and body language that the white teachers did not understand. This went on for ten years until change finally came to the Cheerleading program.

It wasn’t but a month into the fall before some of the students and teachers noticed another History teacher Joe Bigone hanging around after Cheerleading practices and up on the hill during Football games where the Cheerleaders were cheering from the sidelines. Many suspected that Joe and Ronnie were a number despite the fact that Ronnie was married and Joe was single.

On a crisp October day around 11:00 am the fourth period Physical Education boys class was walking up the hill behind the junior high to get to the football field at the top of the hill to play touch football. At the top of the hill was a huge tar gutter to allow the water to drain down the side of the hill and prevent erosion. Physical Ed. teacher Mr. Med was leading 80 boys up the hill when they approached the gutter at the top of the hill. One of the students turned to Mr. Med and asked Coach what are those teachers doing in the gutter? Mr. Med had just come over the rise in the hill and as he looked down the tar gutter he could see two teachers lying in the gutter in a tight embrace. He answered the student by saying, “they must be practicing gymnastic log-rolls or something,” they both laughed. Then other students noticed the teachers. They all laughed especially when they realized it was Mr. Bigone from the History Department and Mrs. Ronnie Bronson from Phys. Ed. When the two teachers realized that almost 80 students were standing on the hill looking at them, they got up and brushed themselves off and walked down the hill as if nothing had happened. Later that day both of them were called to the Principal’s office. Gossip spread around the building the both teachers were romantically involved. Students would come up and actually ask Ronnie, “Is it true Mrs. Bronson that you and Mr. Bigone are in love?” Ronnie would blush and of course deny it. It certainly was the talk of the school in meetings, lunches, and department meetings. 

One evening as Mr. Med was walking to his car after Cross-country practice it was November 1970 and the sky was dark by 5:00 pm already. As he approached the teacher parking lot he noticed someone getting out of a car in the back of the parking lot. It was a woman and she was pulling up her pants that were down around her ankles as she got out of the back seat of a car. Sure enough it was Ronnie. Mr. Med ducked down as he opened his car and peaked over the back of his care to see Mr. Bigone also getting out of the other side of the car. Mr. Med laughed to himself. He could not believe that they were making out or having sex in the faculty parking lot in the early evening. He did not tell anyone the next day and kept his little secret to himself.

Everyday in the teachers cafeteria it was a real show a some of the male teachers tried to woe Mrs. Bronson by offering to take her lunch tray, offering her a seat by them, asking if she wanted their dessert and on and on. Needless to say the female teachers were starting to get annoyed and they began talking about Ronnie behind her back. Gossip travels fast in a small school of 120 teachers and the gossip of the day was always Joe and Ronnie until one day an art teacher Mr. Goldblatt spotted a Volkswagon Camper bouncing back and forth outside in the faculty parking lot near the art classes. It seem strange that the VW camper was bouncing up and down so he went outside to get a better look and out came Joe Bigone and a 14 year old girl straightening their clothes. Of course he reported the incident to the Principal. Joe’s excuse was he was helping the student with her History homework in his VW camper.

The Ronnie gossip came to a head finally during Christmas season when the teachers had their annual Christmas at Goldfarbs Hotel nearby. Because most of the teachers were Jewish the party had to be both a Hanukah party and a Christmas party. It was a Friday night and most of the teachers went home and showered and dressed up and met at Goldfarbs Hotel at 8:00 pm for the party. Kosher rules had to be enforced but the Christian teachers did not mind and went along with the special requests by the more Orthodox Jewish teachers on the faculty. Ronnie appeared at the party without her husband, whom no one had ever seen, and Joe appeared at the party without a date also. Couples were mingling everywhere and the President of the Teacher Union announced that the district that year and 24 of them were at Cucamonga Junior High had hired 300 new teachers. It was a good time in High Mountainain school district. The district was growing in leaps and bounds and hundreds of parents were moving out of New York City after the citywide teachers union strikes the year before. The parents in New York City had enough of teacher strikes and wanted a better education for their children so they moved upstate to find better school districts.

Dick, Bill and Bob Med were all sitting around a table having some beers and mixed drinks with their wives when Ronnie and Joe walked by hand in hand. Dick’s wife leaned over to him and asked, “Who are the two sweetheart, honey,” “Oh they are two new teachers at Cucamonga Junior high this year,” Dick said. “Job Bigone is the new History teacher and Ronnie Bronson is the new Physical Education Teacher. I believe she is married however no one has ever seen her husband,” Dick said. The other wives at the table also looked at the couple with interest. Dick tried to change the subject, ”well it is a really great night isn’t it sweeting?” 

Ronnie and Joe danced together all night. Her large oversized chest crushed against his chest. It was quite a scene. Most of the teachers ignore them except the wives. They seem to be concerned. Around 11:00 both Ronnie and Joe disappeared from the party and no one noticed that they were gone. Too many of the teachers had a little too much to drink so their vision wasn’t too great anyway.

Ronnie and Joe were in his VW camper stripping off their clothes and kissing one another. Again the VW camper began to bump and jump around as Joe Mountained Ronnie and loosened his male fury. Pulling and kissing and sucking those huge breasts. Life was good, until there was a knock on the door or the VW. It was the Principal Mr. Worley and he did not look happy. Joe quickly tried to put his pants back on as he opened the door. Ronnie still was putting her bra on as Mr. Worley stood there saying, “Joe what the hell are you doing? Mrs. Bronson is a married women and this is very inappropriate in the parking lot to be having sex. I want to see you on Monday morning first thing.

Monday morning came and Mr. Worley wrote Joe Bigone up for conduct unbecoming a teacher or a 3220a petition. This meant that after a hearing Joe could be fired. After the meeting the Union rep informed Joe that they would provide a lawyer free to defend him against being fired. Ronnie and Joe were not seen together from that day on. 

It was months later in the spring of 1971, April 22 that Joe was formally charged in a hearing. After two days of creating their case the district lawyer rested and the defense took over. A decision was made the next day and Joe Bigone was dismissed and a substitute teacher was hired to fill out his position for the remain few months of the academic year. Ronnie took the news a little hard, but in the meantime she had heard rumors that Joe was knocking up some of the female students also. After he was fired it came to light that he had gotten a pretty 14-year-old Jewish girl Amanda Greenwald pregnant. He left the state. The following year gossip had it that he got another teaching job in Vermont at an all Girls school. That must have been interesting.

During Easter vacation one of the women P.E. teachers ran into Ronnie at the local mall. They had lunch together when Ronnie admitted that she was separated from her husband and that he wanted a divorce. That gossip spread around the school as soon as the vacation was over. Ronnie only lasted a year and after a poor final evaluation at the end of the year she left for another school district.

Educational Articles

The First Chapter of my novel, “The Junior High,” the secret affairs of Kakiat JHS 1960-1998,

by Dr. Pelham Mead.

Chapter 1- In the beginning

The name Kakiat JHS came from the name of a local Native American Tribe that used to live in the High Mountain area in New York. When the High Mountain school district began to explode in student population in the 1960’s it was decided that an additional Junior High school needed to be built. At the time there was only two junior high schools North JHS and South JHS. The students at South JHS were overcrowded in their school and they were on double sessions for a few years until the Board of Education of High Mountain school district put before the community a bond approval to build a third Junior high school to deal with the overcrowded conditions of the existing schools. The name of the new junior high was put up to the South JHS students to determine in a school-wide vote since ½ of these students would be sent to the new Junior high when it was finished in 1960. The choices were: Central High Mountain JHS, Washington JHS, and Kakiat JHS JHS. The students in South JHS did not want to go to the new Junior high school so as spoilers they choose the worse name they could and that was Kakiat JHS JHS.

The current Assistant Principal of South JHS was to be transferred to the new Kakiat JHS JHS when it was finished. He was given the choice of what teachers he wanted to bring with him, so he chose his best friends whom were all department chairman. They were all older men in the late 50’s and early 60’s. This seemed like a good base with which to start a new junior with experienced teachers. Actually no teachers transferred, only administrators. All of the rest of the teachers were hired new. In 1967 alone 300 teachers were hired in the High Mountain school district to meet the every expanding student population expansion. Kakiat JHS JHS started with 600 students and by 1975 had doubled to 1600 students in the one building built for only 1,000 students.

When the fall of 1960 came about the construction was not completed however the district moved the students into the unfinished building anyway. Construction delays caused the problem. While teachers were teaching in their classrooms, workers were drilling and nailing walls together in the next classroom. The noise problem was difficult to teach in without distraction. The auditorium was half finished with the seats not completely installed. Technically it was illegal to occupy a building that had not been finished but the district had no Plan B in case the building was not completely finished. Somehow the school district managed to avoid being fined by the local building code inspectors.

No sooner had Kakiat JHS JHS been built than it became overcrowded, and an extension was planned for and built in 1967. A small gym later was started in 1968 and finished by 1970 to accommodate the increase in student enrollment. A lot of problems developed with the heating and air circulation systems in the new extension requiring more construction and repairs to be made. Some classrooms lost all heat and were as cold as the outside weather in the fall and winter of 1967. Teachers had to move classes to the cafeteria or auditorium or library when the classrooms had no heat. A fire was started in a closet in the large gymnasium when a worker with a blowtorch accidently ignited the insulation in the ceiling while he was wielding metal braces under the roof. Fortunately the damage was limited to the storage closet and the fire department was able to get to the fire fast enough to prevent serious damage. The real damage was water damage to the gymnasium flooring.  The boy’s locker room had showers but no hot water until that problem was fixed. In the 1960’s is normal to give out soap and towels to students to shower after class. It was mandatory at that time. When the 1970’s came in with the concern for individual liberties and student’s rights and many lawsuits to determine student’s rights the required showers were abandoned and a shortage in funds dropped the expensive towel and soap program in Physical Education. Eventually only the sports teams would use the shower rooms and Physical Education students went to class smelling and sweating.

The teaching staff grew from 70 teachers initially to over 120 teachers by 1975. Many part-time teachers also joined the teaching ranks and teachers who traveled from one school to another became another portion of the teaching staff. Para-professionals came into use known as Teacher Aides who needed only two years of College to be eligible for the job. The district used to have team teaching but para-professionals provided a cheaper approach than two full paid teachers to one class. For a few years there was a special education teacher and a mainstream teacher teaching a mixed ability group of students including special education students.

Community voting on public bond issues was always difficult because the majority of the High Mountain school district was represented by Jewish private schools called “Yeshivas.” The private Yeshiva population grew from 7,000 students in the 1960’s to 15,000 in the 1990’s. The Jewish community had to be courted by the Superintendent of High Mountain school district in order to secure their support of the public school budgets. Many trade offs had to be offered the private school community such as universal busing, used textbooks and used school furniture and special professional services. The Jewish community voted as a block against the expansion of the public school bond issues by busing Jewish voters to the voting poles. No public referendum could be passed without getting the Jewish community vote. The Jewish community were paying both for Yeshivas for their children to attend and for public school tax. Under New York State law the High Mountain school district Superintendent was legally responsible for all public and private schools within the borders of the High Mountain School District. Therefore, Yeshivas had to meet NY State Education requirements or they would not be certified. The High Mountain school district was one of only two major Jewish districts in New York State that had a significant number of students attending Yeshivas instead of Public schools. This meant that the formula for repayment to the High Mountain School from New York State did not include the private Yeshiva students. The public school system of High Mountain did not get any revenue from New York State to offset the cost of carrying thousands of Yeshiva students who were not in public school. This also included Catholic Schools that were a much smaller number of students. This lack of funds from New York State would eventually cause the High Mountain School district to develop a major shortage of funds to pay for the school budget every year. The shortage of funds developed into threatened teacher strikes, no teacher contracts for three years sometimes, cutting back in hiring new teachers, cutting back in sports programs such as elementary soccer, softball and basketball programs were cut. Concern Parents had to form their own sports associations to provide sports for elementary school children. This community sports program eventually grew to include Junior and Senior Highs students that could not qualify for the school teams.

The 1960 were a turbulent time in American with the Civil Rights movement taking hold, Black Power, radicalism in student organizations and the anti-Vietnam war movement. Coupled with the “drug generation,” and the Anti-war movement of hippies and beatniks the 1960’s and 1970’s were troubled times in American. These problems translated down to the local level with students mimicking what they saw on TV and what was happening in the media. Student protests were the thing of the day. Fake bombing calls INS were also the fade of the generation. Bomb fake calls came on a daily if not weekly basis and the entire school had to be evacuated every time. No one was every caught. This fad went on for years until a Principal from another school district had enough of the fake bomb threats and decided not to evacuate the building. After that many other school districts follow suit and made changes in their fire alarm systems with a yellow detection spray, video cameras, and a new approach to bomb threats. Twenty years later bomb threats would be a thing of the past, just as the Vietnam War became a thing of the past.

Some teachers were considered militant when it came to anti-Vietnam policies and that was unfortunate because they affect the minds of the children they taught. Militant teachers painted their rooms with psychedelic colors and logos to mirror the slogans of the times. Some of the militant teachers had long hair and dressed in jeans and worn t-shirts with logos like “No WAR,” or “Peace.” Militant song groups appeared on the music scene and could be heard in the militant teacher classrooms. The administrators were useless in being able to stop the militant teacher activities. The anti-War issue divided the faculty but no one would support an administrator trying to make a stand for or against the War or Militant teachers.

The term “politically incorrect, “ came into play. Black student could not longer be called Negro students. Black or Black Americans or African Americans became the buzzwords. The word “nigger” was the ultimate insult for black students when it was used by a white student or white teacher, however it seem OK for one black student to call another black student a “nigger.” It became known as the “N” word for white teachers or white students. There was a lot of racism during the 1960’s and 1970’s and many teachers tried to straddle the line but did not succeed. Expressions such as “your people,” smirked of racism. Black parents and black students were very race conscious during these turbulent years. All of these issues translated to problems at Kakiat JHS JHS as in all schools in the United States. 

Teachers at Kakiat JHS JHS had to be especially careful in their language and how they treated black students in regard to how they treated other students. The sensitivity of race issues was on the surface and would not go away. Many teachers got into trouble when they used language that was misinterpreted by black students. Black students would often run to administrators and tell false tales to get a teacher they did not like in trouble because of the sensitivity of the racism issues during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Teaching during these turbulent times was no picnic. The militant teachers twenty years later cut their hair short and became part of the mainstream society as if they were never militant in their lifetime. It was amazing how some militant teachers became moles for the administrators after fighting the administration for so many years. It shows that in time you either conform to the rules and policies or get out. If a teacher wanted to make it to retirement age they all had to change over time and become more liberal or conservative in their philosophical approach to teaching and issues of society.