Mr. clay top ten tribute


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Kevin Quinley's tribute to Charles Clay

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Mr. clay top ten tribute

  1. 1. Mr. Clay Top Ten… Tribute By Kevin Quinley
  2. 2. Top 10 Memories of Mr. Clay … and His Era No event like this comes together without lots of hard work and organization. This is no exception. So .. let's recognize two people whose hard work spearheaded this event, made it possible, and turned an idea into a reality. Those people are Pattie Elder and Judi Adams. How about a round of applause for both! I'm sure we each have memories of our time at Little Creek Elementary School, especially if Mr. Clay was your teacher. With apologies to David Letterman, here are my "Top 10" memories …
  3. 3. #1. Camp Owaissa Adventures …. Remember the overnight trips to the YMCA camp near Lynnhaven? They were wonderful adventures. Sand in the clothes. Screen doors. Games of "capture the flag." Hands-on science projects. Sweltering bunk houses. But we still had a terrific time. Nowadays to pull that off, you'd need three signed waivers, four self-esteem counselors and an Environmental Impact Statement. Related to that is …
  4. 4. #2. Before “The Blair Witch Project”… Before "The Blair Witch Project" there was ….The Dark Lady … At Camp Owaissa at night, I remember being hunched around a campfire. Mr. Clay confided to us the local legend of . . . The Dark Lady. Long before the "Blair Witch Project," Mr. Clay scared bejeesus out of us . . .
  5. 5. . . . by telling us this tall tale. Then, while we were around a campfire, he had someone dressed as The Dark Lady jump out of the shadows. (I think we all needed a new change of underwear right after that…)
  6. 6. #3. He broke gender roles. Back in the day, it was rare to have a male teacher. Most were women. Mr. Clay broke that mold at a time when it was a rarity. He was a walking example that "real men teach!" He was willing to wade into deep water with his teaching, too. Exhibit A…
  7. 7. No, not that "Big Bang Theory"! One distinct memory I have is of Mr. Clay, explaining to us the origin of the universe through the Big Bang theory.
  8. 8. #4. The Big Bang Theory. In 30 minutes or less, he got sixth-graders to understand cosmology. (Jerry Falwell would have had a conniption!) Nowadays, such a lesson plan would probably trigger a lawsuit from Liberty University and the Creationists. Now that was pretty cool. But, not quite as cool as the Little Creek Library.
  9. 9. #5. Cool Runnings .. At Little Creek Rec Center Little Creek Summer Rec Center. My first exposure to Mr. Clay was during the summers when he was the director of the Little Creek Recreation Center. That became my "home away from home" during Summer break between school terms. Rec Center tournaments were held in everything from paddleball to ping-pong to domino's. Being an uber-nerd, I entered the checkers section. I soon learned that I got to play the games in the school Library.
  10. 10. #5. Cool Runnings .. At Little Creek Rec Center So .., what's the big deal about that? This was special, because the library was air-conditioned and we had no air conditioning in our sweltering house! (It was so hot, the bushes in my back yard were whistling for our dog!) In the library, the air-conditioning was cranked so low, it was almost painful, I didn't complain and wanted to win every game so I could stay in the deliciously cool library! But if sub-arctic air conditioning didn't give me a chill, the prospect of dissecting rats did …
  11. 11. #6. Rats!!!! Rat dissection. On Mr. Clay's desk sat a product catalog from Carolina Biological Supply. From it, you could order any number of interesting items, including dead rats packed in formaldehyde. I remember dissecting one during a "Summer Enrichment Program" directed by Mr. Clay and learning the rudimentary art of taxidermy. I put my rat on plastic surfboard with papier-mâché painted blue waves and anointed it . . .
  12. 12. "Surfer Rat." Talk about a surfer rat! He could "hang twenty"! To this day, I'm still intrigued by taxidermy, but I get queasy when -- on the drive down -- I saw here in Norfolk a Taxidermy shop located right next to a . . . Korean barbecue. Not all the memories of Mr. Clay are from the classroom, though. They extend to the playground and fields of competition . . .
  13. 13. #7. Kicking ass at volleyball. To us 6th-graders, Mr. Clay was a towering intellect, but he was far from a nerd. He had a competitive streak. This surfaced in his coaching our class volleyball team, first in school-wide competition and then later representing Little Creek at the City competition at Foreman Field. I remember him drawing out game strategy on the chalkboard before games, about where to spike the ball against other teams.
  14. 14. #7. Kicking ass at volleyball. He may have been able to explain cosmology, but -- on the playing field -- he also wanted to kick your ass. I wasn't good enough to be on that team. I was, as they say, "vertically challenged." That was OK. So I sat with classmates in the stands at Foreman Field, watching other schools march in. We saw inner-city schools with six-a-half foot tall "12-year-olds." Many sported huge muscles and facial hair. (And those were the girls' teams!!)
  15. 15. #7. Kicking ass at volleyball. Remember the scene in "Jaws" where Richard Dreyfuss' character looks out over the ocean, gets his first look at the great white shark and says, "I think we're gonna' need a bigger boat!"? I looked on in amazement as these "sixth-graders" waved to their wives and children. But of course, not all of us were athletically gifted.
  16. 16. #8. The original Crummy Team. The Crummy Team. Me and a bunch of buddies were typically picked last were not picked at all for pickup games of kickball or other sports. We understood. We got it. So . . . we decided to form our own group and called it the "Crummy Team." We made up our own "Crummy Team" T-shirts. (We tried to get Nike sponsorship, to no avail …)
  17. 17. #8. The original Crummy Team. We did "Crummy Calisthenics." We'd play the girls teams sometimes, just to give them a little competition. Other classes caught wind of it. They formed their own Crummy Teams. Fortunately, Mr. Clay tolerated this bit of nonconformity. To this day, I keep in touch with some of my Crummy Team alumni. (We're still crummy!) So, a few minutes ago, I mentioned The Blair Witch. Now, we come to "The White-Haired Bitch…." This evokes memory number nine …
  18. 18. #9. Drawing the line on Mrs. Battleaxe. Everyone at Little Creek Elementary and was intimidated by the martinet music teacher, Mrs. Whitaker. Well, everybody but one person. Once, Mrs. Whitaker stormed into the middle of Mr. Clay's class, presumably to complain about one of his students. Mr. Clay faced off with her, told her off and told her to get out of his classroom. Stunned silence followed.
  19. 19. #9. Drawing the line on Mrs. Battleaxe. Nobody -- and I mean NOBODY -- had ever stood up to Mrs. Whitaker. (Funny, I don't recall her ever entering the classroom after that …) I'll wrap up with my tenth memory of Mr. Clay.
  20. 20. #10. There’s NO debate! Another distinct memory is Mr. Clay hosting Norview's debate team for an exhibition/demonstration debate for our class. I sat in slack-jawed attention thinking, "That's so cool! Someday, I want to be one of them!"
  21. 21. #10. There’s NO debate! Eventually, I was, debating three years in high school, three years in college. It was a formative life experience, ignited by Mr. Clay's decision to bring Norview's team in that day. As an added bonus, I learned in high school and later in college that telling a girl, "I'm on the debate team" …
  22. 22. . . . was the most effective form of birth control known to man. Some closing comments …. You may know that early May is the calendar spot for National Teacher Appreciation Week. It's a time to pay tribute to teachers, a time to honor educators and acknowledge the key role teachers play in making sure every student gets a quality education.
  23. 23. We know and recognize that there are many teachers in our past who gave their hearts, minds and souls to nurture in us the things that they saw as vital to our education, critical to our success, and important for our future. But one that uniquely stands out in my memory -- and I suspect in yours -- is Charles Clay.
  24. 24. So even though it's July and not May and even though it comes belatedly, today we recognize and salute Mr. Clay for his inspiration, dedication, and occasional perspiration. And we say, "Thank you for being in our lives!" "Thank you for being a wonderful teacher!"  Kevin Quinley, July 26, 2014