Hearing from the girls about their day at Panamanian public school is always good for a laugh. Yesterday both girls had eventful days.
Haley has a new schedule that we worked out with Spanish lessons and her public school. Three days a week she starts her day at Spanish lessons and then goes late to public school. We had recently changed the schedule a bit so yesterday Haley informed her homeroom teacher and the principal via a letter from her Spanish teacher. She took it into the principal (who is extremely difficult to understand in Spanish – he mumbles and speaks very softly) and with the help of his secretaries they finally figured out what Haley and this letter were trying to communicate. They all reviewed the letter, the principal agreed with it and in typical Panamanian style he had to sign it and stamp it. Panamanians love their stamps. There’s a stamp for pretty much any possible form you might want. It’s all very official looking and amusing at the same time. So he stamps the letter and keeps the original and gives Haley a copy. Then he asked what her schedule was so she showed him a schedule we created in Excel. Each day has a little different schedule with earlier release on Thursdays and Fridays but earlier start on Mondays, but 8 different classes each day, three days starting with Spanish school, etc. So we had written up (and color coded) a schedule for her to keep track of it all. She showed him her schedule and the principal and the group of secretaries were all extremely impressed with the colored chart. There was gasping and oohing and aahing. He asked if a company had created that schedule for her but she informed him it was done at home, by her mom. It’s amazing what Excel and a color printer can do!
So he signs and stamps the home-made schedule too and everyone seemed mighty pleased with the arrangement. Haley is especially pleased that she gets to miss a few boring classes, sleep in an hour and work on her Spanish, at the same time saving the afternoons for homeschool and free time. Winner winner pollo dinner!
As part of our arrangement with the school to excuse Haley from a few boring classes, her Spanish teacher and I also visited with a few of Haley’s teachers and asked them to involve her in classes a bit more. Science was one subject that we thought she could be more involved in, as it’s not as much a lecture-style class but is more hands on with diagrams and projects. True to their word, they assigned her to be part of a group working on some project. She wasn’t sure what they were doing but they handed her a small, laminated piece of paper and said she should memorize it. Evidently her role was to narrate to the class for her group. So she worked on it for a few days and yesterday it was their turn to present their project. She had memorized the paragraph and proudly recited it to the class. She earned a round of applause and probably a great deal of respect! So yesterday was a good day for Haley.
Zoe also had an exciting day. The best part was that school was cancelled for today so she’s at home sleeping in. Then later in the day they announced that for the 3rd trimester of school (September to December) the school day will last until 3 p.m. not 1 p.m. The Directora evidently decided this. I was cracking up at this. No teacher unions protesting a change in contract, no parents arguing about how this would affect after school activities, no budget implications of now needing to serve lunch, nothing. Just changed the time and consider it done. OK!
Zoe’s teacher also had a surprise for her students. Her daughter, who attends school there in 2nd grade, evidently did some cleaning out of her closet recently and had some stuffed animals that she didn’t want. The teacher decided to award these hand-me-downs to students in her class so she put names in a hat and Zoe’s name was drawn. Oh, good. A used stuffed animal. Because we always need more of those. Well, Zoe was beyond thrilled and could not wait to tell me all about it when she got home. I tried to be enthusiastic but it wasn’t easy. Zoe named the bear “Skipper” which in Spanish is pronounced “Eskipper” because they can’t start any word with an “s” followed by a consonant. Eskipper was the chosen one for sleeping last night.
And lest you think that the girls are learning nothing academic from being at Panamanian school, you should know that Zoe has learned how to do long multiplication sideways, although she’s usually the first one done when she does it the vertical way. Her teacher has asked the other students to learn how to do it Zoe’s way in hopes that they’ll catch on quicker. And Haley has learned how to represent water in a diorama project. Blue hair gel from the local grocery store does the trick nicely.