Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I had problems with this woman - lots of them.

Ms. Wisnicky (I don't recall her first name) taught a variety of English/literature courses at Washington. She was somewhat strict and no-nonsense. She did however let us sleep in her class - provided we were able to do so by sitting up, keeping our eyes open, and keeping a smile on her face. In all her years, she said that only one student had been able to pull it off. I have news for her. He was faking it!

My first time with her was in sophomore year, for some literature class. I found the subject to be very boring. I also found her curriculum to be incredibly hard. Always one for "faking my way" through a semester, I had a real challenge with her. And she won. I ended up failing her class. It wouldn't be the last time.

In the fall of 1986, I had just come off of the whole "tile incident" from the end of freshman year. My social worker, in an effort to boost my grades, made me carry around a small notebook, in which every teacher was to write down what assignment I had to do for the next day. All my teachers were notified about this ahead of time. So there were no surprises. Wisnicky obliged for awhile. But at some point in early October, she snapped at me and said, "I'm not doing it anymore. You don't so the work anyway." Unfortunately, I had a court order against me that called for every teacher's involvement, whether they liked it or not. I told my dad about her refusal. He told my mom. My mom told my social worker (note, my mom was a social worker too, and had her office right next to his). My social worker then called the school, and ripped into Wisnicky for her refusal. The next day, she was back to signing my notebook.

As the semester wore on, it was clear that I was totally lost. So I just had fun with it. For one test, we had 14 multiple choice (A,B,C, or D) questions. I put my own letters in there instead. For #1 I put "L." For #2 I put "I." When I'd finished, if you read it from top to bottom, it spelled "Lit really sucks." I thought it was clever. She didn't. I think she even refused to grade it.

I also would use my creative writing skills to make ridiculous answers to questions. I recall a question which said something like, "What is the difference between going on the road in the 1800's, as opposed to doing it today?" I had goofy answers about better shoes and such. But I concluded it with, "In the 1800's, there was a never a chance of being killed by a nuclear bomb."

I next met up with her in my senior year. By this time she had apparently married (remarried?) and had become Mrs. Kluczinski. Something tells me her husband suffered a stroke or something during the year. Anyway, I was none too happy about having her, as I knew I'd have a tough time. One of the classes was composition. I can't recall the other one. Whichever one I had during the first semester, I failed. I damn near pulled it off though. At the last minute, I pulled together something like 50 book review-type things. She was very impressed, and gave me an A. But she still failed me for the class. Bitch.

I think it was also in that first semester class where we were given an assignment to read a classic novel. We then had to do a one-on-one oral book report with her at a later date. On Dave Svatek's advice, I chose "The Jungle." It looked interesting. But I had no plans to read it. Instead, I was going to get the cliff notes for it. Unfortunately, they turned up missing for the entire semester. I even tried to find a place to buy them - no luck. At the last minute, I made a half-assed effort to read it. I read about 10 pages, found it dull, and said "fuck it." When it came time for my book report, believe it or not, I actually tried to wing it. I actually pulled it off for maybe five minutes, before her questions overwhelmed me. I finally broke down, told her I'd read it a few years earlier (which was a lie) and that I thought I could wing it. She actually praised me for my honesty. Of course I still got an F.

Kluczinski bragged that when she ran into former students, they would tell her how her class was very much like a college class. She was proud of that. I was pissed off. Half of her students had no plans for college. Yet the difficulty level was just like it. Ugh.

At some point that fall, the new seat belt law came into effect in Wisconsin. Kluczinski remarked that she hated being told what to do, and didn't want to wear it. She kept saying it like she had no choice. I just wanted to shake her and say, "If you don't like it, don't wear it!" Apparently she was so law-abiding that she wouldn't dare not to wear it.

See my entries on Ann Rank, Ron Gretz and Rebecca Shedlosky for other stories involving her. The Ann Rank story REALLY pisses me off!

During my final semester in high school, I was hit with Kluczinski once again. I guess the third time was a charm. Because I somehow squeeked by with a D. Wonders never cease!

I have never run into Kluczinski since high school. Based on her age, I'd suspect that she probably retired recently. I put her up among the top most disliked teachers of my career. She was a liar (see my Ann Rank entry) and a bitch - at least she was to me. I don't miss her one bit.


At Tue Jul 25, 03:48:00 PM PDT, Blogger Brandon P. said...

Love the last paragraph. I wonder if she would still appreciate your honesty?!?

I have absolutely no recollection of this woman. Based on all the classes she taught, I must have had her at some point. I wish I wouldn't have been so hasty in recycling my yearbooks. It would be fun to put faces with names again.

At Tue Jul 25, 04:50:00 PM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

I guess as Mr. Lium was to Jenny, Mrs. Wisnicky was to me. Everyone hated her and her class except me.

I liked Mrs. W (K by the time I had her). I thought she was an effective teacher. Not the warm-fuzzy type, but I learned a lot. When I was in college, I thought I was pretty good at organizing sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into pages. I learned a lot of that from her.

In addition to composition, I also had her for American Lit. The best part was studying Emerson --you gotta envy the teacher who gets to do that. She sold that material pretty well. Brandon, I remember you and me discussing how cool we both thought that stuff was.

HOWEVER -- in composition, my journal was lost. This was during the Toby Schwartz journal-hoarding incident, although Toby swore he didn't take it. I believe him. Anyway, that got me a D for that class. I shold have gotten an A. I thought she'd have been more understanding, as I'd been a good student in her class (that was rare for me).

Burt probably took it. I suspect he'll scan it in a few days and you can all read it.

At Tue Jul 25, 06:14:00 PM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

"I thought she'd have been more understanding."

You hit her right on the head. She wasn't understanding. She was cold, very cold.

At Tue Jul 25, 06:18:00 PM PDT, Blogger PJ said...

I also liked Mrs. K. I thought she was one of the very, very few decent teachers at WHS.

She is also a neighbor of mine...lives right across the alley from us.

At Tue Jul 25, 07:53:00 PM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

With me, she wasn't cold. She was nice about it. She was just like, "Sorry, but you can't argue numbers, kid. Here's your D!"

Whatev. It's always fun when your grade doesn't reflect what you've learned.

At Wed Jul 26, 06:27:00 AM PDT, Blogger apeman said...

Damn Burt we blew it. We were right next-door from her when we were by Paula's house. I never had her but it still would have been funny if she would have been outside.

At Wed Jul 26, 11:36:00 AM PDT, Blogger PJ said...

I was thinking of who else is in the neighborhood when you guys were here and I forgot a bunch of people. Mr. Bonino is a block down as well as Mr. Hough. We see them all quite a bit. Sorry, I was on the spot and my brain wasn't functioning at top speed. It's probably a good thing though that I didn't alert you to Mrs. K, though.

At Wed Jul 26, 02:29:00 PM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

If we had the balls to approach Mrs. Westberg, I think we could have handled Mrs. Kluczinski.

Another teacher or two will definitely be on the list for our next trip.


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