Wednesday, June 20, 2012

So nice I did it...uh, three times!

Back in April when I sang for the Cleveland Indians, I let the guy in charge of coordinating the anthem singers know that I would be available in the event that someone canceled on them and they needed a singer on relatively short notice.  Given that it's a 45-minute drive to downtown Cleveland from Kent, getting there usually isn't much of a problem.  Most of the times I sang for Kent State this past season were all on short notice too.  And by short notice I mean like getting an email or phone call the day of a game and singing that evening.  Well, I figured I might get one more Indians game this season, much like last year when I got to sing for a late September game after it was rescheduled from an earlier rain-out and the previous singer couldn't do the new date.  I also figured, like last year, it would be late in the season.  I never expected to get anything that soon after singing in late April.  Well, turns out I was totally wrong.  I got called on May 16th to sing at the May 22 game against Detroit and then I was even more surprised and excited when I got called June 6th to sing at the June 16th game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

My dad, sister Katie, and her friend Claire came to the game against the Tigers.  Dad came again to the game this past Saturday against the Pirates and my friends Michelle and Julie were able to come again after missing out when I sang in April because of the huge rain delay.  No such rain delay this time!  To make the June 16th game even cooler was the fact that it was part of Marine Week in Cleveland.  Before the game, the Marine Silent Drill Platoon performed and then just before I sang, the Marine Color Guard presented the colors and a HUGE American flag was brought out that covered most of the outfield.  Being the patriot and flag lover that I am, I certainly appreciated that.  To top it off, at the conclusion of my singing, there was a flyover from two Marine helicopters.  The only downside for me, as you can see in the pictures, was that my first name was spelled wrong ("John" instead if "Jon").  When it came up on the scoreboard, all I could do was laugh a little bit before I started singing.  At least they pronounced "Ridinger" correctly!

Waiting to go on before the May 22 game against the Detroit Tigers
On the scoreboard for the May 22 game
The attendance was just over 15,000 for the May 22 game.  Obviously not everyone is there when the anthem is performed
Me with my sister Katie (center) and her good friend Claire.  Claire has come to some other games with us and we've always had fun!
When I was called for the June 16th game, because of the flyover at the end of my singing, they had to know how long it would take me to sing so they could time it. As a result, I had to time myself singing the anthem. I now know it takes me right about 83 seconds (1 minute 23 seconds) to sing the anthem the way I typically do it. As I've performed the anthem through the years, I've found that people really do appreciate it being performed traditionally and at a good tempo. Not too fast, though, but definitely not too slow, which is usually the problem. I know my Grandpa Ridinger, who is now 87 years old and has never been a patient man, has always appreciated that I keep it moving when I sing. Anyway, the helicopters came from right-center field, so from where I was standing behind home plate, I could easily see them coming. As they were getting pretty close and the song was winding down, I was thinking "I need to finish this up before they're on top of me!"  I finished just as they were over the field.  Whew!

Thanks to my friend Michelle for taking the pictures of me singing.  My dad usually takes pictures, but this time he was getting some video to get the flyover, so I told whomever wanted to claim my two extra tickets to the game that they had to meet me at the Will Call window at 3:10 PM and had to take pictures while I sang!  Michelle and Julie did both!  :)  Yeah for friends!

Waiting to go on before the June 16th game against the Pittsburgh Pirates
US Marines Silent Drill Platoon performing before the game on June 16th
Color Guard presenting the colors just before I sang.  They were on the infield between 2nd base and the pitcher's mound.  I was standing  behind home plate on the edge of the grass near the large script "Indians".  After I sang, I rode in the elevator with the Color Guard.  Never felt safer in my life with four Marines and their shotguns!  
Singing while I am photographed (would love to find a copy of the photograph that is apparently being taken of me here...)
Huge American flag in the outfield with my name in the background on one of the scoreboards over right field (and name spelled wrong!).  Bigger crowd for this game too with attendance just over 30,000
On the main scoreboard with the aforementioned misspelling of my first name.  Like I said, all I could do was laugh about it for a second before I started singing
Helicopters flying over just as I finished singing
As I've said before, singing the anthem never gets old for me.  I thoroughly enjoy performing every time just like it's my first.  Having three times already this season to sing for the Tribe has been a wonderful opportunity and hope I can do it again!

Time to move on

I've felt like the writing's been on the wall for some time in regards to working in the Kent City Schools, but it's now official.  As of June 6th, I am no longer an employee of the district as I will not be returning the substitute teacher form and thus not renewing my contract.  I knew coming into this school year that it would be my last subbing in Kent because I would either get a full-time job here and thus not need to sub, or I wouldn't get the job and would take my services elsewhere.  The latter has proven true, so off I go.  If I do continue subbing (which means I have been unsuccessful in obtaining a full-time job), it will be in neighboring districts (including Maplewood Career Center in Ravenna where I have also been the last three years), but not Kent.

Most that know me know that I had hoped to get the choral director job at Roosevelt High School.  Not only was I a product of this program, but as a sub, I interacted with the choirs on a pretty regular basis.  At one point during this past school year, I subbed in choir 9 days in 3 weeks.  So yeah, I knew the program from both a historical perspective and from a present perspective.  Even then, though, I knew it would be an uphill battle for me to get the job based on what I was hearing in terms of what the district was looking for in a candidate.  It sounded like the intangibles I brought to the table in terms of continuity and rapport with the students weren't really traits the district considered that important.  Other events later in the year pretty much sealed the deal as far as I could tell, though I don't think those later events were game changers (in other words, I don't think those events made me go from someone they were thinking about hiring to someone they definitely weren't).  

In any case, I obviously didn't get the position I was hoping.  Again, not at all a surprise, but still disappointing nonetheless.  This is the district I live in and graduated from, so that in itself is disappointing, but even more so because I wasn't even interviewed.  On top of that, I found out pretty much by accident that someone had already been hired.  No one could even send me an email or mention that they were no longer looking, thanks for applying, etc.  Nothing.  And I was at Roosevelt the last week of school subbing on Tuesday (May 29) and Friday (June 1) too (Friday, ironically, was *in choir*).  The way I found out was by looking at the Feedjit app on the lower right side of this page.  It monitors web traffic to this address and tells me when someone visits.  When you click on the "real-time view", It also tells me what browser the person used, what operating system they're on, and even where they are logging in from.  If the person came to my page from a websearch like Google or Yahoo, then it will often show the what word or phrase was being searched for that led them to my page.  I occasionally check the full page of this and did so the other day.  I noticed a visitor from Ravenna, Ohio, had gone to my Resume page via a Google search for "mr. fowler choir director kent roosevelt". I decided to do that Google search myself and noticed the Roosevelt Choirs web page had a mention of this new person. Not a formal announcement by any means, just a passing mention, in a way that suggests the audience already knows about it.  And don't get me started on how many recommendation letters I asked for and never got from various people I know professionally.  I am, however, thankful for those who did take the time to write them for me!  You know who you are!

And in case any of you are wondering why I won't continue subbing in the Kent Schools, it's basically a matter of principle.  Would anyone reading this continue to work for an employer that only values you as a temp worker, especially an employer full of people that have known you for several years?  As a sub I get paid a fraction of what a full-time teacher does with no benefits and no guarantees I'll even be working most days.  Heck, subs don't even get employee parking passes at the high school (we get a "Visitor Pass").  I'm not going to keep doing it in a district that clearly has no respect for nor interest in me as a teacher.  That's not to say I didn't enjoy my time as a sub in Kent.  In terms of the teachers and students I worked with, I had a great time overall, and hope to continue the many positive associations I built in the last three years.  I especially enjoyed subbing in Intervention and Physical Education classes at the elementary schools, plus it was always nice to do something in my field of music at any level.  It's disappointing that it has come to this, but time to move on.