Cheryl Hughes: We All Deserve A Pineapple
I have never in all my sixty-five years been so grateful for a winter break from school as I have this one. I’ve told you before that I have been my granddaughter’s teacher’s aid this fall semester. This job entailed setting alarms on my phone to remind her when the next virtual class was ready to start, quizzing her on the week’s language words and multiplication tables, telling her to summarize the next paragraph in the Science text, and on and on it went in an endless sea of facts and formulas until we were both fried.
I read once that the hardest part of the race for a runner is when they round the curve and see the finish line. When the end is in sight, it takes everything a runner has to keep pushing to the finish line. Last week, the last few days before winter break, Sabria and I experienced that phenomenon. On Monday morning, we were just exhausted from it all.
“I don’t want to do this anymore, Gee,” Sabria said.
“I don’t either,” I said, “but we have got to finish strong, so we can get our pineapple.” She laughed. The pineapple was always the prize we encouraged each other with. Let me explain.
In one online assignment, there were stages of difficulty the student had to master. When a student achieved that last level, a gold medal would appear, along with fireworks and a CONGRATULATIONS banner. My eyesight isn’t the best, and when I first saw the gold medal, it looked like a pineapple to me.
“You get a pineapple?” I questioned, in disbelief.
“That’s a gold medal,” Sabria said, laughing at my mistake. From then on, the award became known as the pineapple.
Sabria has a wonderful virtual teacher. Ms. Montague is one of those teachers who is able to keep all 19 students in the class engaged and on track. At the morning meeting, she greets each student by name, she goes over the agenda for the day, and reminds the students how to get in touch with her if they run into a problem with their work. One of the things that has always amused us is the way she refers to her instructional videos as “Oscar award-winning.”
She always says, “Now boys and girls, before you start the assignment, make sure you watch my Oscar award-winning video on how to do the assignment. If you tell me you don’t understand the assignment, the first thing I’m going to ask you is, ‘Did you watch my Oscar award-winning video?’”
Sabria and I got such a kick out of the reference that we decided to see if we could find a company that made Oscar replicas. We found one online that not only made the small statue, but also engraved them. We had the following engraved on the statue: MS. MONTAGUE, BEST GRADE 4 INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS. Sabria put it in a Christmas gift bag.
Their school had a drive-through day in which they were to pick up goody-bags for Christmas break. Ms. Montague was there to personally give one to each of her students. Sabria passed the Christmas present through the window to her teacher. Ms. Montague opened it then and there. She loved it, saying, “I knew my videos were Oscar-worthy!” Sabria was so pleased that she had been able to give Ms. Montague her very own “Pineapple.”
On the last day of school, Sabria had two tests. I waited in the kitchen as she completed them.
“Gee, I’m finished!” she yelled from the living room.
“Did you turn in all your virtual notebooks?” I yelled back.
“Yes, I did!” she shouted.
“Well then,” I said, as I came into the living room with two small boxes, “I think we deserve a pineapple!”
In the boxes were identical necklaces with pineapple charms. I put Sabria’s necklace around her neck, she put my necklace around my neck.
For the spring semester, Sabria is hoping to participate in the hybrid model of school, where she will attend in-person classes two days during the week then online class the other three. I will miss seeing my little girl every day, but I have to tell you, that schedule will be a lot easier on my pineapple-award-winning brain.