Thursday, August 20, 2009

Made it through my 1st week of orientation!

Well, almost. By tomorrow I will have made it through. Today we middle school teachers met in a group, along with the new vice principal (who was only hired a week ago), and it was terrific. As an ice breaker activity we played "two truths and a lie." I wrote that I'd taught for two years in South Texas; that I'm going to a wedding in Tennessee on Sept. 5th; and that I'd hiked 600 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The music teacher looked me up and down and said, "600 miles, huh?"

"Yeah, that's the lie," I admitted.

I like the other teachers a lot. They all seem really committted to the kids, AND to making sure we present a united front and stay consistent so they don't walk all over us! I'm a big fan of the vice principal, too. If he had already been working for the school when I was hired and had been the one to interview me, I wouldn't have had as many qualms about taking the job. He's really smart, easy to talk to, with a great sense of humor. At one point someone asked yet another question, and he said with a smile, "I know a lot of things, none of which you're asking me about. I'll have to get back to you on that." And this afternoon when I pulled out the huge package of Trident I'd brought, he said, "Could I attack you for a piece of gum? I think I still have lunch breath, and it's driving me crazy."

"Sure," I said. "You don't even have to attack me." :)

One of the teachers who was there last year also said he wanted to reassure us newbies that most of the really severe problems last year were actually in the lower school, not the middle school. *relief*

In other news, ABC News has a story here ( about private investigator Tom Ruskin's attempt to trace Diane Schuler's timeline on the day she drove the wrong way on the Taconic, killing herself, her daughter, her three nieces, and three men in another vehicle. Apparently the 12:08 PM phone call she received was her brother, Warren Hance, and they had what was described as a "normal conversation" -- so much for my theory that that phone call had upset her. It wasn't until 12:56 PM, when her 8-year-old niece, Emma, called Warren Hance "in a panic" that Schuler seemed "sick," or as we now know, drunk -- confused, disoriented, slurring her speech, etc. Later her phone was found "on top of a wall by a bridge near the highway. 'It means 99.9 percent sure she got out of the car,' Ruskin later said." It was 25 minutes later when Schuler drove the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway, causing the crash. The article ends by quoting Jay Schuler, the wife of Daniel Schuler's brother: "We had an occasional pina colada at a family barbecue. She was meticulous, safe, I trusted her with my son when I left the country...those three girls before her own children were her life. This is absolutely not the woman they know. [Not] who I trusted my children with."

I still think it's weird that she and her husband brought "the same bottle of vodka" (who knows if it really was) with them every weekend when they went camping. Beer or wine come to mind when I think of camping, not hard liquor like vodka. Whether she was clinically depressed and over-medicated herself with alcohol, or a closet alcoholic whose first major cry for help was her last, she, four children, and three men are dead for a totally preventable reason. I predict we won't hear too much more about this unless there's a civil suit which brings more information to light, or unless the private investigator uncovers something outrageous. Really sad. :(


  1. Thanks for the comment on Eating the Paste! I love finding other people who are doing the same thing I am. Sounds like we both have a great year ahead of us! =)

  2. I find vodka on a camping trip odd, too! Beer wouldn't surprise me, but vodka?

  3. Agreed. Vodka is hard core. It seems likely she had a drinking problem and was just really good at not getting caught. Who knows, she could've driven drunk before this but no one found out. If you Google "driving drunk with kids" it is astounding how many different cases pop up; it's just most of those drivers were extremely lucky that they didn't kill seven other people.
    On a happier note -- thanks so much for your comment, Paste -- I love your blog! We special ed teachers/bloggers have to stick together. :)