ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the April 5, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] moongoddessgirl. It also fills the "food and cooking" square in my 10-1-15 card for the [community profile] trope_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the Danso and Family thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"A Teacher Who Believes in You"


Danso is just settling down to lunch
when his social studies teacher
catches his attention.

"Would you mind if I sat here?"
Mr. Stanner asks, waving at a seat
around the otherwise empty table.

"Go ahead," Danso says.

The teachers have their own dining room
offset from the big round cafeteria where
the students eat, but nothing says that
they have to stay in there. It's not rare
for teachers and students to get together
over lunch to talk or plan activities.

"I've been thinking about what you said
in class," Mr. Stanner says as he sits down.
"You didn't like the old idea of orphanages,
and you didn't sound much happier about
the modern foster care system. It seemed
pretty personal, so I'm wondering if
everything is okay at home."

Danso chews thoughtfully at his pizza
before responding. "It's better now," he says.
"Hannah is fantastic. My ... younger siblings
are adjusting. But it's been rough in
a lot of ways, and I still worry."

"Anything I could do to help?"
Mr. Stanner asks. He has a salad
heaped with meat and nuts and
little round tomatoes that he chases
energetically with his fork.

"Not that I can think of,"
Danso says with a shrug.
"It's all family stuff, not school,
except when people get on my case
because I'm not like the other students."

"You can't undress a salad,"
Mr. Stanner says, as he pours
something thick and pink over his.
"You can't go back to being like
the regular kids after everything
that has happened to you."

"You sound like you actually get it,"
Danso says, tilting his head.

"I'm the middle kid," says Mr. Stanner.
"My older brother was kind of a wild thing,
drove our parents crazy. Then in high school,
Abbet got his girlfriend pregnant, so he
had to grow up in a real hurry."

"Yeah. Kids do that to you,"
Danso says, staring into his soda.

"So what's eating at you?"
asks Mr. Stanner. "Maybe it's
something we could work out."

"It's the foster care system,"
Danso says. "It's not ... okay.
I mean, it's better than nothing for
the ordinary children whose families
fall apart, but the real gap is the superkids."

"How so?" Mr. Stanner says, frowning.

"It's getting worse. Fast," Danso says.
"There aren't enough people who can
take care of children with superpowers.
Hannah's got five of us living with her,
when her usual max is two. Even with
me helping, it's still a lot to handle."

"I only know a little about superpowers,
but I'm curious about how they impact
society," Mr. Stanner says, munching
on his salad. "I'd be interested in more."

"Well, it's like this," Danso says.
"Since superpowers became known,
the rate of manifestation has been rising
while the age has been dropping. So
there are always more younger people
than older people with superpowers."

"Okay, that makes sense," says Mr. Stanner.
"It's basic demographics. Superpowers
have a similar population pyramid as
a developing nation -- which, hmm,
tend to have problems dealing with
orphans and other unwanted kids."

"What really causes trouble is that
most ordinary people don't have
what it takes to raise superkids,
even if they want to," Danso says.
"Like Rosita's family really wants her
back, but they can't, because she won't
stay with them. She poofs back to me.
And that sucks for everyone."

"No wonder you're upset,"
Mr. Stanner says. "I'd be
pretty freaked about that too.
Any ideas on what to do?"

Danso hunches over his plate.
He hates talking about this, because
the adults keep trying to convince him
that wanting a family at his age is
some kind of mistake.

"Wow," Mr. Stanner says,
leaning back. "That looks like
you have been getting a lot of
really bad responses. It's okay,
you don't have to share it if
you don't feel comfortable."

"Somebody has to fix it," Danso says,
picking at the remains of his pizza.
"I've got good experience. It's just
people snap at me when I try."

"Like what happened when Benji
didn't have lunch money, and Mr. Furst
threw a fit over you buying lunch
for the kid?" says Mr. Stanner.

"You heard about that?"
Danso crams the last of
his crust into his mouth.

"Everyone in the teacher's lounge
heard about it," says Mr. Stanner,
"for a week. If it weren't for that,
though, we wouldn't have talks
about planting a school garden.
So I'd say you're already starting
to make a difference here."

Danso thinks about summer, and
the greenhouse that Aidan built,
and the plans they've discussed.

He doesn't know Mr. Stanner
all that well, but if the guy's telling
the truth about his family background,
then maybe he'd understand after all.

"I want to be a foster parent," Danso says.
"I want to do it for real, on purpose, not just
catch-as-catch-can picking up kids that
some grownup dumped on me."

"That's a big goal," Mr. Stanner says.
"What do you think you might need
to get from here to there?"

It's the first time anyone other than
Hannah or Aidan has really taken him
seriously on this topic, so Danso
has to stop and think about it.

"I need good family skills," Danso says.
"So home economics, parenting,
those kinds of classes."

"That's a good start," Mr. Stanner says.
"Have you got your babysitting card?"

"I ... no," Danso says, his throat
closing around a sudden lump.
"Mom said I could earn it when
I turned thirteen, but ... she died,
and then everything was awful."

"That would be an easy place
to start, then," says Mr. Stanner.
"You're already know the skills,
just need to log them and maybe
fill in a few gaps you missed.
You could do it in a weekend."

That's not a bad idea. Danso
knows that most kids his age who
are serious about family skills have
gotten their babysitting card already.
It's kind of an anticlimax compared
to raising kids on the street, but he's
short on credentials and this would help.

"Yeah, I can do that," he says
picking up the paper packet
of cookies he got for dessert.

"Drop by my office, and I'll give you
a form to fill out for some class credit,"
Mr. Stanner offers. "You'll have to pick
which class it counts for, because
babysitting ties into everything
from health to home ec."

"That's great, I can use all the help
I can get," Danso says. He knows
that his school records are a mess.

"Since I know you'll knock off this one
in a couple of days, let's talk about
something more challenging,"
says Mr. Stanner. "Have you
thought of a summer project yet?
High school students are generally
eligible for long-term projects
outside of the classroom."

Aidan has been the one pushing
Danso to think about summer plans,
but Aidan doesn't really think in terms
of school projects and homework forms.

"Kind of, but nothing solid," Danso says.

"Eighteen is the minimum age for applying
to the Green Heart program," Mr. Stanner says.
"You need a supervisor until twenty-one, but
you could earn junior status. That looks great
on an application as a foster parent -- and it
would give you a lot of relevant skills toward
your goal of helping superkids in need."

Danso knows about the Green Heart program
for marking safe adults and safe places,
because Hannah has both the pin
and the sticker on her window.

"It's a good idea. I'll look into it,"
he says. "Why are you so interested,
though? Most grownups think I'm ...
too headstrong, and they don't
like my attitude very much."

"Well, you're not shy about telling people
what they're doing wrong, and that's not
going to make you a lot of friends,"
Mr. Stanner says. "I think that it's
a natural result of your experience,
but you might consider more tact."

"Yeah, I hear that a lot," Danso admits.

"As for my interest, well, that's my focus
as a teacher of social studies," says Mr. Stanner.
"I look at how society works and doesn't work,
where the current issues are, and how to fix them.
You've found a problem that you want to solve.
I am all on board with that prospect."

It's been a long time since Danso
had teachers he could really rely on,
back before his mother passed away.
It would be nice to have that again.

"Thanks for your help, Mr. Stanner,"
he says. "I'll pick up those forms and
see about earning some credentials."

"If you need any more support,
just let me know," Mr. Stanner says
as he stands up, taking both their trays.
"Now, would you like to join me for ice cream?
The freezer bar is still open, and one thing I
do know about superpowers is that they
tend to run up your appetite."

Something Danso loves about
his new high school is the lunches.
In addition to the basic cafeteria line,
there's also a food court with options
to make your own salad or dessert.

You fill a cup with ice cream or
frozen yogurt, then pile on toppings
such as fruit, nuts, or syrups. Danso
likes the flexibility because you can
learn what you like and can afford.

"You're on," Danso says
as he follows Mr. Stanner
toward the freezer bar.

Sometimes, all you really need
is a teacher who believes in you.

* * *

Notes:

Jerry Stanner -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short brown hair with a mustache and small beard. He wears glasses. He teaches social studies at the Onion City high school where Danso goes. Jerry drinks large quantities of caffeine to keep going.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Social Studies Teacher, Good (+2) Energetic, Good (+2) Enthusiastic, Good (+2) Thinking Outside the Box
Poor (-2) Requires Caffeine to Function

* * *

"The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth."
-- Dan Rather

The campus of the John Dewey High School is located between a large park and a row businesses. The central school building is surrounded by a combination of mowed yard and forest. A large parking lot provides space for faculty and students.

The exterior of the school faces nearby businesses, with a park behind it. The building is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified and provides an example of contemporary designs in sustainable architecture. The performance center includes interactive research, individual and group seating, and presentation space. Student production, conference rooms, and copy rooms cluster around the interactive center. A circulation desk covers office storage rooms.

The first floor contains most of the function space. A "school street" connects the spaces on the first floor along with certain elements on the third floor. It runs from the main entrance along the wings of the school. Facilities include the interactive learning center, administrative offices, gymnasium, and a fitness center with performance center on upper floors. Skylights provide natural light, along with a two-storey space framed by a glass wall.

The food court encourages students and faculty to mingle over lunch. Healthy food options teach students to make good choices about their diet. The design offers opportunities for people to interact and collaborate outside the conventional classroom areas. Wireless service supports sophisticated technology to facilitate both learning and socialization.

Russian dressing and thousand island are two types of pink salad dressing. Here's a recipe for the Russian dressing.

Population growth can be shown in pyramid graphs.

Project-based learning offers various traits and benefits. T-American public schools often use projects for interdisciplinary learning. Elementary students usually participate in class projects organized by the teacher, choosing which part they want to do. By junior high, students are expected to propose in-school projects of personal interest, and teachers often suggest things based on what students are doing or talking about. High school students may pursue projects outside school and/or during summer for credit. Here is a teacher's guide to project-based learning.

High school summer projects sometimes include college programs, community service, or employment. Here are some summer programs for high school students. Take a look at how summer projects can benefit students.

Project planners help organize goals and details. This is a simple planner for grade-school students. A slightly more detailed one for junior high covers steps, expenses, and contacts. Several pages for high school students support more complex projects with steps, details, rewards, and an analysis of job relevance. This is a typical form for recording student projects for class credit.

Babysitting classes cover responsibilities, practices, and a basic guide. While certification is not required, most parents prefer it and it's not difficult for adolescents to get. Here are tips on getting started in babysitting and a class description. Consider whether someone is ready to babysit or to take a babysitting class. There are classes in person or online. In T-America these classes are among the most ubiquitous offerings, and most community centers offer them several times a year.

An ice cream bar offers assorted toppings and ice creams to build your own sundae. Commercial versions often work with a bar and a scale. Since adolescents are learning to make their own food choices, a salad bar and/or dessert bar give them opportunities to explore without having to assemble a whole meal at once.

Woohoo!

Date: 2016-05-18 03:04 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
A teacher in Danso's corner! HURRAY! This is so nice to see.

He's finally figured out the first step toward his major goal, and he's even got potential help getting his school records patched a bit. Middle kids are usually categorized as peacemakers, or the negotiators. Having one on Danso's side will HOPEFULLY get some of the worst staff off his case.

Re: Woohoo!

Date: 2016-05-18 07:14 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
I really like this. We need more Mr. Stanners AND more Dansos around.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-18 05:06 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Mr. Stanner reminds me of a younger version of a favourite professor I had as a senior in college... he laid out the material for us in a practical way that was easy to remember... and he tested *hard*, but graded on the curve. "I give a quiz to see how *I'm* doing," he told us.

I remember, too, not many teachers ate with us kids, but Coach Stokely, a large kona-coloured gentleman, did... and boy could he pile it on. "HEY, STOKELY, Is that all you gonna eat?!" "Naw, man, this is just a *snack*." He got along well with most of us.... :)

Oh, man. The squares raving about school meals would have a FIELD DAY on that ice cream bar.... but it's *perfect* for a bunch of soups. Especially if a goodly number of the toppings are high-protein...

Fun to see somebody *else* making plans for when he gets out.... :)

Thank you!

Date: 2016-05-18 05:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Mr. Stanner reminds me of a younger version of a favourite professor I had as a senior in college... he laid out the material for us in a practical way that was easy to remember... and he tested *hard*, but graded on the curve. "I give a quiz to see how *I'm* doing," he told us. <<

:D I had a few good ones too. Yes, I am shamelessly borrowing from them.

>> I remember, too, not many teachers ate with us kids, but Coach Stokely, a large kona-coloured gentleman, did... and boy could he pile it on. "HEY, STOKELY, Is that all you gonna eat?!" "Naw, man, this is just a *snack*." He got along well with most of us.... :) <<

LOL yes. At Uni High, we didn't have a lunch room. We packed lunches and ate in the halls, or went out to eat. I ate in the halls. The teachers either sat on the floor with us, or ate in their offices, usually with the door open. So they were available for study help and such.

>> Oh, man. The squares raving about school meals would have a FIELD DAY on that ice cream bar.... but it's *perfect* for a bunch of soups. Especially if a goodly number of the toppings are high-protein... <<

Even ordinary teenagers often need extra food just to keep up with a growth spurt. There are soups who eat a balanced core diet but then pack in the extra calories with things like ice cream or nuts. The same is true for jocks, and you can actually dump a scoop or two of protein powder into frozen yogurt and it mixes right in.

The key to the ice cream bar is the quality of ingredients. Start with good ice cream, custard, or frozen yogurt. Cream, a little sugar, eggs, a little base flavor. I think they have vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. The fruit toppings are mostly fresh fruit although they have a few things like maraschino cherries and candied apple rings. All kinds of nuts. Several flavors of granola and dry cereal for crunchies. A few candy bits. A few syrups. The selection of healthier items thus greatly outweighs the more indulgent ones. It is much better than having the kids eat, say, Twinkies for dessert. *shudder* Though to be fair, some kids will dump a package of Jumble Munch over plain ice cream and call it good. Or more bizarrely, Hot Chicks, which are spiced chickpeas.

Another important factor is simply that the ice cream bar is public. If a student consistently buries a dab of ice cream under a cup of gummi bears, not only will they get joshed by their friends but also the teachers are likely to check whether they're getting enough food at home and if they know basic nutritional guidelines. And more quietly keep an eye out for flickering.

>> Fun to see somebody *else* making plans for when he gets out.... :) <<

It is more common in T-America than here for both students and teachers to consider various options after graduation.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-05-18 05:39 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Mmmmm, frozen *custard*. Now you're making me hungry, and I already had dessert. :) (Which was, ironically, flan...)

Spiced *chickpeas*. Hmmm. I've seen dried (English) peas coated in wasabi... I dare not. (Spice wimp. 2 stars on either the Chinese (3) or Thai (5) scale is my limit...) (My ex, on the other hand, probably eats'em like popcorn. Wasabi fiend her....)

Twinkies are not food. Twinkies are a bunch of preservatives that are processed to vaguely resemble food. They have a bloody *half-life* measured in *years*.

(I have a weakness for raspberry Zingers, though. It's the coconut.)

Now, lessee. Banana split - banana, split (duh), one scoop vanilla bean, one scoop strawberry (with serious amounts of fruit), one scoop of handmade sweet cream with dark chocolate peanut butter cups mixed in, caramel syrup on the vanilla, raspberry syrup on the strawberry, dark (but not too dark) chocolate syrup on the PB cups, pecans over the whole thing, whipped cream around the edges, triple cherry. And a stack of napkins. (Which you probably need by now.)

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-05-21 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Mmmmm, frozen *custard*. Now you're making me hungry, and I already had dessert. :) (Which was, ironically, flan...) <<

:D That's why I so often include recipes.

>> Spiced *chickpeas*. Hmmm. I've seen dried (English) peas coated in wasabi... I dare not. (Spice wimp. 2 stars on either the Chinese (3) or Thai (5) scale is my limit...) (My ex, on the other hand, probably eats'em like popcorn. Wasabi fiend her....) <<

There are Sweet Chicks, Saucy Chicks, and Hot Chicks to provide a range of heat. Not all of them use wasabi.

>> Twinkies are not food. Twinkies are a bunch of preservatives that are processed to vaguely resemble food. They have a bloody *half-life* measured in *years*. <<

Yyyyyeah.

>>Now, lessee. Banana split - banana, split (duh), one scoop vanilla bean, one scoop strawberry (with serious amounts of fruit), one scoop of handmade sweet cream with dark chocolate peanut butter cups mixed in, caramel syrup on the vanilla, raspberry syrup on the strawberry, dark (but not too dark) chocolate syrup on the PB cups, pecans over the whole thing, whipped cream around the edges, triple cherry. And a stack of napkins. (Which you probably need by now.)<<

Well, they're working with soft-serve dispensers, but otherwise that should work.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-05-21 09:15 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Well, they're working with soft-serve dispensers, but otherwise that should work.

Yeah, that works better in an institutional setting... but I was being decadent. :)

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-05-21 09:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
T-America still has ice cream parlors as an equivalent to coffeehouses. You're going out to socialize with friends or do your homework in company. Do you want hot or cold light munchies with that? :D

There's a description of Facet's favorite ice cream parlor just before the shit hits the fan with the kidnapping. They have whole cases of stuff to scoop up and mix with things. *drool, slobber*

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-05-21 09:42 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Note to self, Ysabet can be bribed with Coldstone... :)

Or, if you ever get out here, we'll go to Molly Moon (http://www.mollymoon.com/). Local, sustainable, was among the first to pay their staff $15/hour, they've gone from one shop to seven in eight years and are hiring to beat the band... *and* yummy.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-05-26 06:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I've tried Coldstone, it's pretty good. I also rather like Culver's.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2017-05-11 02:07 am (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
Wasabi peas vary *greatly* in strength. Trader Joes has some nice ones. The ones at Winco are sorta ok. The ones in the "trial mix, etc" section of the Albertsons have *no* wasabi taste at all.

I'd prefer ones that didn't scorch my mouth out, but like some bite. Like far too many "ethnic" things marketed to WASPs, most of the time the spice level is a bad joke.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-06-11 12:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paantha.livejournal.com
Mr. Stanner is awesome. ^_^

Glad to see that Danso's getting some support at school as well as at home.

Yes...

Date: 2016-06-12 09:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Mr. Stanner is a great teacher. Danso needs more backing like this.

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