Schools Out…FOREVER

School’s out forever
School’s out for summer
School’s out with fever
School’s out completely

Most kids look forward to summer vacation with gleeful abandon. The shuck off the shackles of structured classrooms to run wild and dirty under the sun. Graduation marks the conclusion of one chapter as people transition to adulthood.

To face the Real World.

GrammaJ graduated today. Finally. After 35 years.

A straight A student, Janet spent her days studying and engrossed in books. (Teacher what is this funny mark next to my A?) Prim and proper throughout the heart of the hippie decade, higher education was always a “when” not an “if.”

It started with a collegiate professor so engaging that Janet decided to delve deeper into language studies. She became a speech pathologist. (P is a Popper!) And then joined the ranks of educational faculty as a special ed teacher. Days were filled will cognitive communication, phonation and articulation, comprehension, voice and sensory awareness. (Tanget: This is a great familial resource to tap into when grandchildren appear three months early.)

Then she married my father. I can only imagine for the irony of the pairing with an exuberant but highly accented, hilariously unintelligible gentleman from Verona.

And then came me. Let’s just say it’s a good thing she had practice working with “difficult children.” Yeah, I was the special ed teacher’s kid. And I wholeheartedly believed that made me special. I always thought it was terribly exciting when mom would be home late because she had to go to a meeting. I wanted to go to meetings!

After 20 years she was ready for a change. And also, she’d finally gotten that difficult daughter out of the house. Time to spread those wings and administrate!

She became a vice principal. And was then promoted to principal. Captaining the ship of Ladera Dragons was the happiest I’ve ever seen her. She was also kind of scary (I would NOT want to get sent to her principal’s office.)

So she moved to the front office – becoming the director of the district’s special education and then director of curriculum. Or, to explain it simply, she was in charge of what your kids learned at any one of the area’s schools.


And she did it with style. Minions were known to attend her staff meetings simply to see what she was wearing for the day.

Then the Bored of Education decided she’d be the perfect candidate to just run the whole damn place. Beware miscreants – there was a new assistant superintendent in town. And oh the stories that stemmed from that…G.G. would watch the weekly Bored meetings (aired on local cable) just to see her daughter on TV. The highlight was usually commenting on how nice my mother’s nails looked.

Please note: No words are misspelled in the above paragraph. Turns out those meetings I once fantasized about are dull as dirt – sucking the life out of people from academia to corporate America.

She strutted the halls, head held high. Fierce, ferocious, intimidating and damn good at her job. By this time I was getting older, only to realize, “Huh. Mom was right all this time after all. I kind of want to be like her when I grow up.”

Then I became a mother myself. (The single most definitive OH SHIT moment of my young life.)

This of course created a newly minted grandmother. Turns out, grandparent-hood hormonally alters the frontal lobe of the elder generation. And her “cutie pies” (also known as the muppets or Search and Destroy) lived awfully far away. (Has to do with that difficult teenager fleeing for independence all those many moons ago.)

Retirement was nigh.

And today, the final school-bell tolled.

“FREE!” buzzed my phone at 12:48 p.m.

Congratulations on a lifetime of service to children, parents and education. You were a role model to so many more than just my brother and me. Your passion and commitment was unrivaled.

So here’s the question everyone asks the new grad. What are you planning to do now?

(I give it three months before she gets bored and starts working again. Or expect to see a post noting that the muppets are now reading and comprehending on a fifth grade level after a week at Camp GrammaJ.)





Filed under Family Stories, Milestones, School, Work

6 Responses to Schools Out…FOREVER

  1. Dalia

    congrats Janet!

  2. Gramma J

    What a nice tribute! Beautifully written.

    (But the chicken pox picture? Yikes!)

  3. Uncle Paul

    Congrats mom, you absolutely deserve it. We love you

  4. Gramma J

    and now what;… by any chance Tricia can i stay with the Boys?
    i cannot immagine Janet at home full time we are going to drive each other crazy [more she than me]

    last nite we celebrated with a bottle of Don Perignon
    to a super aciver a great wife ,great mother, Janet you are the BEST i love you and looking forward the rest of a wanderfull life together
    to my giulietta love your Romeo

  5. Joanne Hamann

    Don’t forget great sister! Woo hoo! Cant’ wait until I can join you!


  6. Dalia

    PS- WOW you two look alike (especially the ID picture…it could be Tricia)

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