Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Framingham Graduation Speech

Here we are at our celebratory lunch after spending about $6,000, all our vacation time and a lot of our patience. I have to admit, it feels good to be here now, to have this degree only nine papers away – at least nine papers away for all of us except Tim and Aysem, who should be exclusively referred to as T and A. I would dub Debra Diaz as Double D, but you all think of me as a sicko already.

Looking out at this graduating Framingham State College Master’s cohort, I can’t help but think of all the things we’ve learned over these last fifteen months.

We learned that $40 a class from each of us doesn’t get us towels in the restroom, let alone coffee or a decent classroom with actual space or much air conditioning. We learned that PSS wasn’t all that interested in paying us our raises according to their very own salary scale.

We learned that Massachusetts is solving its retirement funding problem by sending a steady stream of very old professors to Saipan.

We learned that Veronica is now ready to start her Ph.D.

We learned from Kim that Yahoo games and Microsoft Solitaire are essential educational research sites.

We learned that you could cram one whole family into one graduate class with Elizabeth, Peter, Lynn and soon to be Baby Jeff Mendiola in one cohort.

We learned that Joceyln is bringing radical feminism to Saipan by refusing to marry Jesse.

In our first class sitting in the frigid Airport Fire Department, we learned that very intense air conditioning is apparently the preferred method for putting out fires in the CNMI – water and fire extinguishers be damned.

That first class, incidentally, was the first, of many times we found out that Laurie was the only non-teacher in our group.

A few months later we took Dr. Cunningham’s class, and we learned the importance of essential questions and enduring understandings.

It wasn’t until the following class that we learned in Dan Hnatio’s class that the essential question was: “Why does a dog lick himself,” and the enduring understanding was: “a dog licks himself because he can.”

Dr. Cunningham also noted the importance of a hook, only in this class, at the end of the hook; most of us had a bag of chips. This group went to class with enough provisions for deployment to Iraq.

Of course I can’t skip over Dr. Lou’s class. We learned that collaborative leadership was letting Laurie or Aysem or Roselle or Rizalina do all the work on the projects while the rest of us kept quiet.

We also learned there that the legendary Packers weren’t just Lombardi, Starr, Hornung and Nitschke, there was also Fuccilo in the mix, and for the record, Dr. Lou is not my father.

Eventually the Christmas season came and we learned, yet again, that Laurie was the only non-teacher in the group. We also learned that Framingham will hire a guy like Roberto, the Japanese were misunderstood in WWII, Santos, since he is married to someone who can teach in Gemma and would carry his water while Roberto offered platitudes such as “it is not so fun to be poor.”

In Gemma’s class, we learned about the importance of activating prior knowledge, like when someone explained to Mark McDonald that a Chimichanga was like a burrito – only fried. Speaking of McDonald, we learned that you don’t have to live what you teach. McDonald is a health teacher. We all know that health class is about teaching kids not to have babies until the time is right, yet McDonald has three kids and has been on paternity leave at least twice in the brief four year history of Southern High. Having McDonald as a health teacher is kind of like having me teach you to slam dunk a basketball or how to star in your own shampoo commercial. McDonald, and his new bride, Ryan, who has two kids, have the potential for more offspring than a couple of boonie dogs at a Viagra buffet.


During our Spring Break, Framingham raided the retirement home again and sent out Mr. Benelli. We learned there that it was possible that we could pay $600 to conduct our own graduate class without a professor at all. My memory is a little fuzzy, was that guy ever really in the room at all?

This leads me up to the last two weeks where we learned something really scary: We might not get out of this program if they were going to send that Harvard guy Jilani with all those hard ass linguistics based pre-course assignments. It turned out that his bark was worse than his bite, and I believe we all got through the ESL class – even you Jim. We also learned that Laurie might be giving Gracie brain damage by speaking two languages to her.

It wasn’t until yesterday, in Dan Hnatio’s class, the sequel, that we really learned something: No, I’m not talking about the shotgun wedding of Ryan and Mark after all those months of sexual tension with those two: I’m still astonished that Bryan Jones is really Charles Jones. I haven’t been this shaken up since the Easter Bunny told me that Santa Claus was a fraud.

Anyway, it has been a heck of a journey guys. Congratulations to us all, we got it done, and as a culminating experience, I will be in the pool later and I brought my speedo.


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