Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This week on Jean : The clash of two worlds as Michael enters public school.

Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State.Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.
Michael is going to the public school which David and I are having a hard time  understanding the system. All Freshman parents had to come in with their children for a private meeting with a counselor to decide what subjects Michael will take and to get to know us. As we are Michael's foster parents David and I went to the meeting with Michael. At the meeting I think they were a little surprised that we were Old Order Mennonite, but didn't say anything. Everything was fine with the main subjects he had to take such as Math, English, History, Science and more. We even went along with physical education, although we thought it was a waste of time. I mean children should be getting exercise doing chores and playing-but we were told many children are inside playing games on the computer and watching TV. Also, we didn't agree with everything that was being taught in science-but David said it would be good information if Michael decided to go into farming later on . Michael hadn't decided yet, but thought he wanted to be a farmer. The counselor went on about all the other occupations that Michael could do. We explained that farming is a good job and feeds the people in the world. I guess the counselor did not think farming was a great occupation. Michael decided to take German as a foreign language to learn. The counselor thought he should take Spanish. Michael said he wanted to learn German so he could learn our language. We went back and forth until finally the counselor agreed to let Michael take German. They have classes in everything from music, car repair, wood working, art, cooking and many, many more.The counselor wanted us to wait outside and let Michael make the decisions-we disagreed. Michael asked us to stay. After a discussion he chose wood working, and art (he draws beautiful pictures). We thought we had everything worked out and they wanted to know if he wanted to try for after school sports like baseball, football, golf, basketball and more. If he gets on the team he would have to go to games out of town on the bus. We would like to go, but we couldn't go on the bus so would have to find other transportation. Also, we are not for football-we consider that a violent sport-although David and Michael talk about football teams when in season. This would also take time away  from doing his chores meaning we would have to do them. I think they believe David and I are backwards. They kept saying that the public school is different than our school. They prepare students to go out in the world to get jobs or go on to college-not to really work on a farm. We understand that Michael came from a different way than we did and he may want to go to college-although he says no. To us certain courses are a waste of time and teach nothing for the ways of the world. The people before us were in and out of the counselor in a half hour-we were there three hours and wouldn't have left if it wasn't cow milking time. Finally, we got all Michael's courses worked out for this school year. Also, we asked what they wore to school. We were told there was no dress code. You can bring lunch from home-but the school has the right to look it over-to make sure lunch is all you brought. All students have a locker and that the school has the right to check at anytime. They have physical education outfits and they change from their regular clothes. When David and I got home we were both upset-but Michael asked us to calm down and said  "it wouldn't be so bad". I forgot to mention that the counselors thought we were wrong with an education that only went to the eighth  grade where their school went up to grade 12. On the first day of school Michael rode the bus to school, but David and I went down and parked our buggy in front of the school to see what the students were wearing. I guess we embarrassed Michael, but we had to see. We were upset at what the students wore. Michael wears  slacks, a shirt, shoes and socks which is more than some students wear. Also, we got a call from Social Services telling us that they were happy that we took such care of Michael's education, but that things were different between our school and the Public School. So the school must have called Social Services. We told them of what we disagreed with. Social Services explained that this is a different school-which we knew. We are considering putting Michael in a different private school, but he does not want to go because all his friends are here. He keeps telling us it won't be as bad as we think it will be and a private school is just another public school. Another thing that upsets us is Michael gets homework. Our school does not have such and we disapprove of it. We feel that students should do all school work in school. When he comes home from school he should do his chores and not have work to do all evening. Evening should give us time together. Even on weekends there is homework. Martha tells us we are getting too upset. Before she became one of us, she went to a public school and also a Catholic School. Things have changed, but are basic as they were, It is the outside world. We are also concerned about drugs, liquor, boys and girls being able to be together and more. Yes, we do have a concern if someone brought a gun to school. It hasn't happened at this school, but could. Since school is started if we wanted to go into the school-we have to buzz in-go to the office-give the reason we are there-be given a tag with our names on it. In our school all we have to do is go the school. Maybe if you send children to the public school you think we are wrong, but if we had a choice, we would not send Michael there. He would go to our school. Michael says we are over protective. I would never send Susan or Baby David or Rebeca to a public school. One of the readers asked if we would adopt Michael. We would like to. As yet, he hasn't been put up for adoption, but we think he will be coming up. Before we got Michael back we discussed this with Martha and Joseph as they have adopted. Of course their children were much younger than Michael. They feel we should wait at least a year. See how things work out between Michael and us. Also, if he decides to be Old Order Mennonite or chooses another. He does attend meetings (church) with us and dresses our way for meeting-but likes his hair shorter. Susan would like us to adopt him so she would have a big brother. Michael says he would like to live with us but we will see how this goes after a year. If we adopt Michael, we can get him out of the public school, which he would like and so would we, but we have to consider a lot of things and so does Michael. It is not something we can all decide fast. We must live together and pray together to make this decision. Another question I was asked and forgot to answer before  is "do the Amish and Mennonites play soft ball"?.
. Yes, we do,  Not all the Amish do but the ones in our area do. We don't have teams. Usually it's the young folks that play-but in our one room school there is a game between the students and parents once a year-at the end of the school year picnic. Michael and some of the young folks played here when we had the party at the end of his school year last June. Now that he is living with us, I am sure there will be more games. We have both girls and boys that play soft ball. Will I be helping out a school? Yes, I will be at the one room school house. All parents take turns helping, bringing lunches (usually in the winter), whatever we are needed in. David and I will also be at the parents meetings with Michael teachers at the public school. These happen four times a year. We would be glad to CHAPERONE student activities at either school, if asked. I hope I have asked your questions-please feel free to ask more. Be With God, Jean
                       Jeans homemade beef stew
                                                  2 pounds beef chuck cut in 2 inch cubes
1 Large onion (quartered)
5-6 carrots halved
4 Stalks celery (quartered)
5 medium sized potatoes (halved)
1 Green Pepper chopped
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca (little less if you like more gravy)
2 cups fresh mushrooms or 1 number 2 can mushrooms
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp.pepper
1 16 oz. can whole tomatoes
3/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients in large Dutch oven with tight fitting cover. Cook at 300 degrees in oven for 4 hours. Do not take cover off while cooking.

You can also do this in a slow cooker or Crock Pot. Look in booklets to see length of time in slow cooker. I would say 8 to 10 hours.  

A new post from myself this Wednesday with images from Lancaster/Lebanon county's, and also an explanation of what   Pennsylvania Dutch really is. Then on Thursday the Amish cook, along with a special Friday post honoring the TV show Bonanza. Richard      


I've created this website out of my own interest in the Amish/Mennonite culture and of living in the country. Its a place for people who are interested in the Amish like myself, and its also a place to share Images of the beautiful country side that is all around me. my name is Richard, and I live very close to an Amish settlement here in Pennsylvania. This site is dedicated to my mother, who had started all of this by taking me as a child to Lancaster,pa from our apartment in the Bronx projects..........THANK YOU MOM............... Richard