Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Happy Marriage

"Lauren is fabulous!"

That is what my friend Mark always says whenever I mention my team teacher's name. And he is right. She is fabulous, in so many ways; smart, playful, dedicated, beautiful, stylish, strong and giving.

Lauren and I just celebrated the 5th anniversary of our happy working relationship. In real life she is happily married to an equally fabulous man named Doug. I attended their wedding in June 2006 (pictured left) but I consider myself her work 'husband'. I am honored by the association. As we enter into our 6th year as co-teachers (one year teaching kindergarten and five years in first grade) I find myself thinking back to our first meeting. Who would have guessed that from this inauspicious encounter a beautiful relationship would have blossomed. It's a funny old world hey? (Thanks Poddie).

We both have differing versions of our first meeting. Prior to our introduction, before the commencement of the 2002-2003 school year, we were each told that we would be teaching kindergarten in September with someone we had never met. So, we were interested in meeting one another long before we started a close working relationship. Lauren was the fresh faced ingenue just entering into her first teaching experience. I was the seasoned pro with six years under my belt, having already taught kindergarten and preschool.

Lauren remembers coming out to the school yard to greet me for the first time as I was playing with the children during recess. Her recollection finds me less than interested in our initial "hello's" as I continued to focus my attention on the children without so much as an enthusiastic smile towards her. Her recollection does not sound like me. I am sure that she was mistaken. In actuality, she was probably right. I am sure she just caught me at a bad time. I was probably in the middle of playing. You know how distracted one can get when one is playing.

My version of our first meeting is as follows... I was teaching preschool at the time, and let me tell you something, teaching preschool is not for the weak hearted. Lauren came into the classroom to introduce herself. I remember being a tad nervous because I had spent the previous two years team teaching with the wonderful and beautiful Maggie (who I am secretly in love with, even though she is now married with two children) and both of us and most of the children were hearing, which meant we did not use sign all the time.

I was concerned that Lauren would criticize my abilities in American Sign Language (ASL) since my sign language skills had become rusty while I languished in Pre-K. Lauren was just recently coming off of the honor of being crowned Miss Deaf America so I was sure she must be a little full of herself. People who are full of themselves make me both uncomfortable and uninterested. Oh, preconceived notions are the enemy of good relations. She has since been featured in the book The Gallaudet Dictionary of American Sign Language.

Anyhoo, Lauren came in to the classroom and introduced herself and that was that. She seemed nice and I was looking forward to working with her.

On a side note, Lauren performed a retelling of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree in ASL during the talent portion of the competition for Miss Deaf America. She had already established her love of children's literature and was laying the foundation as a role model for young Deaf girls. I wish I had her performance on video!

But, aren't you lucky? You can watch Lauren in action by clicking here. She has performed quite a few stories on this vlog and all of them are a joy to watch. I do hope that you will check them out.

This brings me to the purpose of this post. I wanted to 'formally' introduce you to Lauren because 1) I mention her quite a bit on here and 2) She is going to join me in a series of ASL lessons on my blog. It is my hope that this feature may be helpful to parents or caregivers of deaf children who are struggling with learning a new language.

This endeavour also has a personal connection for me. I have a friend who suddenly finds herself caring for her adorable, precious grandson who is hard of hearing and seriously language delayed. Lauren and I are going to present signs relating to particular themes, such as family, school and feelings.

For the past two years when the preference sheets have come out for the following school year, asking teachers what grade they are interested in teaching and with whom, I have told Lauren that I would understand if she needed to 'see other people'. After all, I am the only team teacher she has ever known and if she feels the need to know what else is out there, who am I to clip her wings? Thankfully she has not taken me up on this selfless offer.

It's great. Isn't it grand? Oh, it's heaven nowadays!

"Happy Halloween"


Dumdad said...

Great friendships such as this are few and far between and therefore are too be treasured.

Fascinating video.

Joy said...

Lauren really is brave - if you gave her one of your LOOKS and she still took on the job with you... give that woman a medal!! :)

I love the vlog!

OH and happy anniversary you too kooky kids! xo

Joy said...

oh and I did mean "too" - as in tooooo much! lol

la bellina mammina said...

Love the video.

I was just talking to my eldest son the other day about your blog and the subject of signing came up - and we decided to take up sign language. That will be really interesting to learn something new with him.

Isn't it wonderful when you find someone you can get along with very well at work? And the friendship you develop afetr that is really priceless. I admire both of you - happy anniversary Gary and Lauren! :-)

Ladron de Basura said...

There is much to be said for having a "work spouse" since we often spend more time with them than real ones. It's been a while since I've had either, so it was nice to read about yours.

marxsny said...

I would just like it to be clear that I'm not one of those guys who walks around drinking cosmopolitans and calling everything fabulous. I only use the word when it fits and it's application is deserved. That being said Lauren is fabulous.

Joy said...

Oh Mark, YOU are fabulous!

Where is my cosmo?

Steve said...

It's so important to have a good work spouse! (Did you read the New York Times story a couple of months ago about work spouses?) Lauren sounds great, and I love the idea of the ASL lessons!

Florecita said...

Great relationship!!!!!!!!! and your picture!!!!!!!! I really like it!!!!!!

kimy said...

thanks for the introduction! lauren sounds like a perfect partner and work spouse. no doubt she feels the same about you (and has, since she's not interested in moving on)

happy 5th anniversary! don't know if work marriages operate on the same 'gift' system, it would be WOOD! sounds like planting a tree to commemorate the occasion would be in order! I don't know what borough you work in, but if it's brooklyn how apt would that be??

love the happy halloween picture, eek of course.

Reya Mellicker said...

She is gorgeous and brilliant, too! Wow!!

Your students are truly lucky to have the two of you. I am so impressed!!

Gary said...

Dumdad - "Treasured" is a great word for this. Aren't her videos fantastic? She has quite a few of them up there.

Joy - What look are you referring to my dear? I have no idea what you mean. I have only sweet looks in my repertiore darling. Isn't that right?

Bella - That is wonderful about you and your son taking up sign language. I wonder how different the signing is there. You can teach me!

Gregg - Yes, indeed. It is nice to have a warm smile greeting me each morning. Now if there were a way to add food into the equation I'd really be in heaven. (Right, Joy!)

Mark - I love your intonation when you say this. But, you were drinking a cosmo the last time I heard you make this statement. Just sayin'...

Steve - I missed that article. The only section of the NY Times that generally grabs my attention is the Arts and Leisure Sunday section. How sad is that?

Florecita - Which picture? Halloween or the wedding?

Kim - Hey, there's an idea. I should let Lauren do a post about me. Hmmmm...
We teach in Manhattan near Gramercy Park. It would be perfect if it were Brooklyn. You are cracking me up.

Reya - Can we entice you to come back to first grade?

kimy said...

gary pop over to the mouse there's a nice little surprise for you! eek!

WAT said...

She sounds like an awesome lady.

And you in that tux man. I'm turned on.

lettuce said...

its good to know how well it all turned out after such a faux pas. Interrupting your play, imagine!

she does look and sound wonderful, you are clearly well suited.

i'm looking forward to the ASL vids.

Florecita said...

Halloween Picture is sooooooooooo great!!!!!!!!!

Gary said...

Kim - Thank you. That was very nice of YOU!

Wat - She is awesome. I think everyone looks better in a tux don't you?

Lettuce - I know right? The nerve. Perhaps you will have a chance to meet Lauren on your visit to NYC in April. I'll make sure you are not playing when she approaches.

Florecita - I think it would have been better if my white face make-up had stayed on. I also had fake blood but it stained my face and took a while to wash off. This year I am avoiding make-up all together.

J. David Zacko-Smith said...

Lauren is gorgeous, and you are just so handsome. Congratulations!

MONA said...

I thought it was your wedding happening! LOL!

Lauren sounds cool!


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