Opening Day Thoughts by Marty Glaser

I woke up at one thirty in the morning, and rather than bother Lenore, I went into David’s old room and started writing. I wrote three poems that would be read for me at the TOPS meeting at the Mill House on Wednesday morning. I would honor three TOPS members who lost weight and qualified for State Division weight loss recognition.

I wrote from one thirty until five am, made oatmeal, and kept writing for the Well Done Writer’s group. I was disappointed that I could not be at the opening of the John Zon Community Center on March 12th in Greenfield. The day of the opening was when I had to receive a steroid infusion at home. I was also unable to be in crowds because my immune system would be compromised.

I decided I would write about Jon Zon and how he came into my life when I was a Special Education (SPED) teacher at the Franklin County Technical/Vocational School. I will never forget his coming into my classroom on parents’ night. This short, balding man wore glasses but had a sparkle in his eyes. He asked me who I was and what I taught. Previous to that, I had never set eyes on him. I introduced myself and talked about my role in the special educational department as a math and study skills liaison between shop teachers and regular studies teachers and my students.

I told John that I was assigned to the classes to insure that my students could understand and apply math principles and calculations in their respective shops. John listened carefully to what I told him and didn’t interrupt. I said that our SPED staff had come from many schools where a strong and professional group of teachers did SPED teaching the way it should be done. I explained to John, that when our students rolled onto our campus from eighteen school districts, we first had to deal with the emotional and psychological abuse they suffered at their feeder schools where they were treated as if they were stupid and incapable of learning.

When these bruised and battered students entered my classroom, I told them, “You are great people. I will act as a liaison between you and your mainstream and shop teachers. If you cannot read well enough to take written exams, I will get the mainstream staff and shop teachers to allow me to read the exams to you. and put your answers down. I will not change your answers or cheat for you, but will be your eyes. You’ll have to think and figure out the multiple choice answers.”

We had to teach the mainstream teachers and shop teachers to allow alternative testing because each student learned differently. If students couldn’t write legibly, I would have them dictate their ideas, I would type, save, and print a copy for the student and the teachers. I would write: “Dictated to Mr. Glaser,” so the teacher would know this student should not be penalized, but judged for the quality of his thinking.

John Zon thanked me for educating him about SPED kids and left. I didn’t know I had just talked the ear off a guy who was on my own FCTS School Committee until other teachers told me who he was. When I saw Jon walking in the hallway, I stopped him and said that I hoped I didn’t make a fool of myself. John laughed, and reassured me. “I always hire the best!”

I am proud that the community center was named in John’s honor. 

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