Whit Pressinger - 20,795 days since Somerset

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    Hey Folks - Gotta start by saying I remember those years in late elementary as some of the best times I ever had.  No worries - just having fun.  So, after Somerset they bussed me off to Western Jr High which was a lot of fun too.  Then off to BCC where in 10th Grade I had far more fun than any human being should which threw my DNA for a loop for awhile.  After BCC my family rented a house right smack on the ocean in Cocoa Beach, Florida.  I could peek out my bedroom window and see the waves breaking 200 feet away - pretty cool to say the least.  Of course, everyone in Cocoa Beach learns to surf so I did that for a few years while getting my AA degree.   Next I went off to Florida Atlantic University for my undergraduate degree and taught Jn High Science and Math at Jefferson Middle School in Merritt Island, Florida. 

I then went to University of Florida where I got my Masters in Emotional Disturbance (later they changed it to Emotionally Handicapped (EH) to reduce offending anyone).  While some may argue I was a bit EH myself, it was a program designed for teaching emotionally disturbed children.  This is a nice way of saying grumpy kids who get mad way too often.  I taught 12 EH children (ages 6-12) in Vero Beach Florida for 3 years and had my own portable classroom in the back.  I had a paddle on the wall reminding kids they will get a sore rear-end if they break any of 5 rules - Hitting someone first - Running away from class - etc.  Over the first few days many would try the running away routine but quickly found their 26 year old teacher (aka Mr. Press) could outrun the best of them thanks to all the practice I had at Somerset - Of course, paddles are now in the Educational museum of history.  

After teaching EH kids for awhile, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps in Jamaica as a reading teacher trainer where I would visit one school per day and try to help with improving reading and maybe pass on a few strategies to teachers who were not very motivated with there $30 a week salary. I stayed in a small wooden shack with an elderly man and candle power for $7 a month.  Not a bad deal huh?   One school took 2 1/2 hours walking up a mountain trail to teach 10 barefoot kids who seemed to enjoy this unusual white man.  

The kids in the local high school were reading about 5 years below grade level on average so I worked on developing a reading program that could advance their reading ability at a faster pace.  I called it "ReadingKEY" which was based on teaching words in order from "most-common" to "least-common" and in small groups with the same vowel sound.  It worked really well and I was able to improve reading ability in most cases one year in only 2-3 months.  Upon returning from the Peace Corps I started selling the program online and was able to generate more income doing that than teaching so I moved into that full-time.  

After the Peace Corps, I studied Public Health and what is called "Developmental Neurotoxicology" at University of South Florida.  This is basically trying to understand environmental factors than can weaken a child's brain development during pregnancy, thereby short-circuiting their potential.  This field attracted my interest because it didn't seem coincidence that the kids I worked with (who had learning and behavior problems) came from families where the parents sprayed pesticides for a living - lived or worked in citrus groves - worked in gasoline stations - consumed alcohol during pregnancy etc.. They say the brain grows over 4,000 cells per second beginning the 4th week of pregnancy and is far more vulnerable (than we realize) to subtle damage from outside factors during this critical brain growth period.  In my view that's a big part of the reason why kids today have more problems than we did.

I also had a private behavior modification service where I'd go into homes and set up behavior and consequence charts for parents with grumpy kids.  I'd sometimes get calls at midnight to come over to a client's house to sit on top of a child who felt he/she could run the house at all hours of the night.  While working with one of these families, I met Suzanne.  After we dated for awhile, mother nature took her course and we got married.  At the time of our marriage she was 5 months pregnant (Yeah, you do the math).  After that I had two more boys and a girl who is now 14 but thinks she is going on 25.  Boy have I got stories about her but we'll save that for later.  After 17 years together, Suzanne and I got divorced in 2011 and get along better now than we did when we were married.  In fact, I often tell people that if I had known we could get along this well after divorce, I would have done it sooner Smile.

So, now I am in south Gainesville, Florida staying with an animal rights lawyer (Marcy) who handles lawsuits for people with dog issues.  These are often vet malpractice cases or city dangerous dog restrictions - putting dogs to sleep etc.  She's a friend (platonic) and seems to like my company and likes the fact that when something breaks I can usually get it working again.  It's funny how when we were young our ability to attract the opposite sex depended a lot on how cute we were.  But now, as we get up there in years with a few more wrinkles, having the ability to fix a broken light switch or leaky sink seems to make up for our diminished lack of cuteness.   

We live just 5 minutes from I-75 so if someone is ever  traveling through the central/north Florida area and needs to hang for a night and recharge, we have a private Yurt on our property where you can crash. We'd love to have you and can chat about Mrs. Slover and why in the heck that very nice person of female gender (at least I think she was) had a voice like a bear.
(This post was last modified: 06-12-2023, 01:37 PM by Whit.)

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