This Axe Has Lead: A Memory-Piece

I was fired. Actually, two-thirds of its palindrome is how the district put it—”RIFFed.” Reduction In Force Forced. Our family fortunately still had one wage earner covering the mortgage and providing health benefits. And I fit nicely into the parent part of our (then) ten-year-old daughter’s parent-participation classroom. And, hey, for the first time I’d get to collect unemployment. Not bad for someone approaching middle-aged. Crisis? Nah.

My task in our daughter’s classroom was assisting with the “computer station.” Considering my former position included teaching and overseeing a middle school computer lab, this was great. To celebrate, I had my portrait taken with my keyboard. Me and my “axe.” Like a rock guitarist…sort of.

And then around October I got the call—no, more like a plea—to reenter education teaching business computers to 9th graders at a local high school. “There simply isn’t anybody else available to do the job,” the principal begged. So much for the stay-at-home dad.

One thing led to another. I parlayed that high school position into my current post of instructional technology specialist at the ESD. But my love is with writing. Couple that with development of browser-based editing and I soon developed a virtual writing group. On the ‘Net. Only no one was there. Yet.

Sadly, many readers don’t know the impact of responding to authors’ writing. Can responding skills be learned? Sure. Can students overcome social pressure to speak their mind about a classmate’s piece? Perhaps. Will I continue to pursue this passion to encourage online peer-response involvement in the writing process. You bet! Maybe it’s time for a new portrait. Me and my “axe”—only this time it’ll be a pencil.

-Nick, 3/2001