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Interview with Abby Leigh Stiger

Stiger, Abby Leigh
Stiger, Cary
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places
Abby Stiger talks about the different schools she has been to in her lifetime.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Cary Stiger interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
CS (Cary Stiger): So, where all have you gone to school?
AS (Abby Stiger): In Ohio, Kentucky, New Orleans, and Charlotte.
CS: And what were the schools like in Louisiana?
AS: Um, well the school was built a lot different than any other schools that I've gone to. Um, there was like one hallway that was completely enclosed and that was the mall and then all of the other hallways only had a roof and they were all open and about half of the school was in portables.
CS: You mean trailers?
AS: Yeah. And-.
CS: How many kids were in a class?
AS: Like 30.
CS: In a trailer?
AS: Yeah. The school was built for 900 people and there was over 2,000.
CS: How were the teachers about teaching in that, in a trailer?
AS: I, I don't know. I guess they were OK with it. [Laughter] They had air conditioning. Um, they made us give them something of ours before we were allowed to go to the bathroom so that we had to come back like something important to us.
CS: [Laughter] Collateral?
AS: Yeah. And-.
CS: What were the expectations like? I mean, were you expected to do a lot of work? Were you, was it fairly, did you find it fairly easy? What was the academic atmosphere like?
AS: I don't, I wasn't there that long, but uh, it seemed easy to me. They, I mean, they expected a lot of like stupid things from you like you had to have this color notebook and like these color crayons and stuff like that but the work wasn't hard.
CS: The work wasn't, did you have a lot of homework?
AS: No.
CS: Did you have any homework?
AS: No. I didn't even have a locker. I had like two books because I came late and there wasn't any more. [Laughter]
CS: They ran out of books?
AS: Yeah.
CS: And they just didn't give you any books? What did you do in class?
AS: In class we used like, we used like everybody's books but we didn't have homework because how are we supposed to do our homework without a book? Not everybody had a book to take home.
CS: How did the teachers feel about that? [Laughter]
AS: There's nothing they could do about it. They just were like, "Oh well. I guess there's no homework."
CS: Geeze. What about Kentucky? How was that different?
AS: That school was pretty good, but it was really, really small. There was only like 300 people in that school and everybody was white. [Laughter]
CS: Everybody was white?
AS: Except for there was one Puerto Rican girl and one half black boy.
CS: That's it?
AS: Yeah, everybody else was white like hillbilly white. [Laughter] White trash white.
CS: Trailer park?
AS: Yeah. Like the town had like two stoplights. [Laughter] It was tiny.
CS: Did you find it stereotypical? I mean, were the kids missing teeth and stuff or-?
AS: Yeah.
CS: They were missing teeth?
AS: Missing teeth, dirty hair, dirty face, belt buckles, cowboy boots-.
CS: Did they wear cowboy hats?
AS: Some of them, yeah. [Laughter]
CS: In the building?
AS: No. And at that school it was different because, uh, since the school was so small, pretty much everybody was the same religion and we had assembly before we were leaving for Thanksgiving break and the principal, uh, announced in front of everybody that we hope that, he hopes that we stay in God's hands over the break and that he'll be praying for us.
CS: Is that legal? [Laughter]
AS: [Laughter] I don't think so but it was like everybody else just thought it was normal and fine and I jumped back. I was like, "Oh, my gosh. Did you just hear what he said?" [Laughter] "He just said he was going to pray for us." And I was like, "Doesn't that offend the Jewish kids?" And the girl next to me said, "Well, there aren't any." [Laughter]
CS: There's, everybody was the same religion?
AS: Yeah, I guess. [Laughter] Nobody said anything. I mean, there was like-.
CS: Well what did the teachers say?
AS: Nothing. They're-.
CS: Have a nice day?
AS: -They're all the same religion, too.
CS: Was there any diversity among the teachers?
AS: No.
CS: All white?
AS: Yeah.
CS: Women or men?
AS: Both.
CS: Pretty equal spread or more women than men?
AS: Um, more, more women. The principal was a man. The shop teacher was a man. [Laughter]
CS: That's it? [Laughter]
AS: Yeah. The gym teacher was a man. All the man jobs.
CS: That's fairly stereotypical.
AS: Yeah.
CS: Especially for a Southern community. Men don't teach. Men do work work like shop or coaching football or being a principal.
AS: Yeah.
CS: Hmm. What about the work?
AS: The work was hard. It was a good school. [Laughter] I mean, we had homework and we, uh, did a lot of class work. Except for my, I had a, my English class, we did nothing. [Telephone rings, pause in recording]
CS: So the academic expectations were fairly high?
AS: Yeah, uh, [pause] the school was, it was pretty good.
CS: What was the work like in most of your classes? You were getting ready to say something about your English class.
AS: We didn't do anything in there.
CS: You didn't do anything?
AS: Nothing the whole year. Our teacher played solitaire on the computer.
CS: What about other classes? They were hard?
AS: Um, yeah. Some of them were hard. My reading class was pretty hard and-.
CS: You had a separate reading class?
AS: Yeah. It was like reading class and writing class.
CS: Did you like it that way?
AS: Yeah, it was all right. It doesn't really make a difference. It just takes up different times. Uh, in my science class the teacher, her husband was the pastor in town and like, she goes by the old ways like and like if you do something wrong, you have to write lines. Like say you throw something across the room you'll have to write, "I will not throw things across the room," 100 times. Or you say like or like she says, "You got 100 lines." And you're like, "What?" And she's like, "200." And you're like, "Uh." "300." She does that. So like you can end up with 1,500 lines.
CS: Did you ever do any?
AS: I said, "Crap." And you're not allowed to say crap, you got to say feces or that it's vile.
CS: What did you have to write? [Laughter]
AS: [Laughter] "I will not use profanity in the classroom." [Laughter]
CS: How many times?
AS: Like 50. [Laughter]
CS: That's not too bad.
AS: Crap.
CS: [Laughter] What about, uh, schools in Ohio?
AS: They were the hardest. Uh, I don't know. High school in Ohio was, uh, hard [pause] and but you could miss like as much school as you wanted. Like it doesn't matter how many days you missed or how much class time you missed. Just as long as you had your work done it was fine.
CS: What was the work load like?
AS: It depends on what classes you have and what kinds of classes you have. Some of your classes could be really hard and some of then could be easy.
CS: What about core classes like math and English, science, and history?
AS: My math class last year in Ohio was the hardest class I've ever taken. I had so much work. We had homework every day, notes every day, a homework assignment for every day on the weekends and they were at least 20 questions. It was hard. [Laughter] My keyboarding class was intense. I had that first period. You could not miss a day in that class because we did so much. We probably wrote about 500 memos and letters and all that. You know?
CS: What, what about classes sizes and the teachers and-.
AS: My history class, there was only about like 12, 13 people in there and then in, what class was big, my keyboarding class, there was probably 25.
CS: Your biggest class had 25?
AS: Yeah, about 25. But some of your classes will have 10 or four. It depends on what class you're in.
CS: Were your teachers hard?
AS: Some of them. I didn't like my English teacher. She was really mean.
CS: [Laughter] What about schools down here?
AS: They're easy. They're like retarded easy.
CS: Do you think that's because of the school you go to down here?
AS: Yeah.
CS: [Laughter] Why do you think that?
AS: Because it's an A Plus school. [Laughter]
CS: What do you know about A Plus? [Laughter]
AS: That means that it's a really low school that you don't do anything. That's where all the lost kids are sent.
CS: Lost kids?
AS: Yeah.
CS: What do you mean by lost kids?
AS: Like the kids don's have a way. They're lost. They don't know what they're doing or where they're going and they're just kind of chilling in high school.
CS: Oh, OK. [Laughter] What about class sizes here?
AS: Well, they're pretty big. All my classes are pretty big. [Laughter] At least 20 kids.
CS: And your smallest class has 20 kids at least?
AS: Yeah.
CS: What's your biggest class?
AS: My gym class.
CS: How many kids are in there?
AS: Um, probably like 50.
CS: 50 kids?
AS: Yeah.
CS: Is there only one gym teacher?
AS: No, there's two.
CS: Oh, OK. But you have the two teachers for 50 kids.
AS: Mm-hmm.
CS: That's not too bad.
AS: We don't do anything in there.
CS: You don't play organized sports?
AS: No.
CS: What do you do?
AS: Sit down.
CS: In gym?
AS: Yeah. We don't do anything. We sit there and talk. [Cough]
CS: What about the rest of your classes? What do you do in there?
AS: Pretty much nothing. [Laughter]
CS: Do you have homework?
AS: I always seem to but nobody else ever seems to. I don't know. I guess if I did, if I worked a lot harder in school, then I wouldn't have homework but I just don't feel like doing it because I'm so tired do I just do it later when I get home.
CS: Do your teachers have high expectations?
AS: No. They have no expectations at all.
CS: What do you mean?
AS: You don't have to do anything. Like they don't, they don't expect anything from you at all. You don't do your homework and they're not surprised. [Laughter] It's not a shock. They're like, "Yeah. That figures."
CS: Why, why do you think that is?
AS: Because nobody does it. Nobody does anything.
CS: Why do you think they don't do anything?
AS: Because they're dumb.
CS: [Laughter] That's kind of harsh.
AS: Yeah. That's true.
CS: Well, why do you think they're that way? I mean, it's not like its nature versus nurture.
AS: They got lost in like elementary school.
CS: So this 'no child left behind' isn't, uh, working?
AS: No. [Laughter] All these kids have been left behind in like fourth grade. All of them. I mean, you have one girl that has an acceptance letter into college [laughter] and one guy that's got accepted into college.
CS: Greensboro, right?
AS: I don't remember where he's going. But he's also Mr. Football, Mr. Basketball, Mr. Student-.
CS: -Body President.
AS: Kid, yeah. So-.
CS: Which kid is that?
AS: Brie.
CS: Uh-huh. Well, what about the demographic spread here?
AS: I'm like one of the three white people in all my classes. [Laughter] Most everybody here is black or Chinese or Asian-.
CS: [Laughter]
AS: -Or Hispanic. Can't say Mexican, you have to say Hispanic. And it's not Chinese it's Asian. [Laughter]
CS: What about that demographic compared to Ohio?
AS: Ohio was just about even. It was white like, it's the exact, pretty much the same amount of white people as there is Hispanic people and black people. It was like there wasn't any like there was probably two or three Asian kids.
CS: So the Asians weren't-.
AS: No. In Kentucky there was nothing but white kids.
CS: [Laughter]
AS: And in, in New Orleans it was, there was more white kids but there was a lot of black kids in that school, too. There wasn't-.
CS: Oh?
AS: -There was, there were more Asian kids than there was in Ohio. There's just not that many, but they were, they were there. You could see them driving off in their Miatas. [Laughter]
CS: [Laughter] That's stereotyping.
AS: Well, all the Asian, it may be stereotyping but all the Asian kids that went to, um, Fontainebleau High School [laughter] are rich. They all drive brand new cars. Pretty much everybody there did.
CS: There weren't very many Asians in Ohio?
AS: No. Like Dan Tin and his sister.
CS: Amy?
AS: Amy and Rose, his little sisters. That's about it. And like one actually like Japanese foreign exchange student but his name was like 12,000 consonants long. [Laughter]
CS: [Laughter] That's bad. What about down here, the teacher demographic?
AS: There's a lot more black teachers here.
CS: Were there no black teachers in Ohio? Mr. May, he was a principal.
AS: Yeah. A vice principal who beat his wife. He set a good example. [Laughter]
CS: Yeah. I kind of forgot about that.
AS: I don't think there was any black teachers at Ross.
CS: None \\ that you can think of? \\
AS: \\ I didn't, I didn't \\ have any.
CS: What about men versus women?
AS: That was about even.
CS: I remember that being fairly even.
AS: In Ohio, there's a lot a male teachers there.
CS: Yeah, I can remember having more male teachers than female teachers.
AS: Yeah.
CS: I did have two female math teachers though but I had, my English teachers were men.
AS: My English teacher was a girl. My math teacher was a girl. Keyboarding, girl. Um-.
CS: Did you have a lot of male teachers?
AS: I had, my history teacher was a guy and my health teacher was a guy and one of the gym teachers was a guy and the other one was a girl.
CS: They just now got that, an assistant principal that's a female. \\ Miss Garza. \\
AS: \\ Miss Garza. \\ Miss Garza.
CS: That's the first female vice principal, they still call them vice principals, right?
AS: Yeah.
CS: -Vice principals that I ever remember Ross having ever.
AS: Uh, she talks with a fake accent. [Laughter]
CS: She's been here for a long time. She taught in Cleveland, right?
AS: I don't know. She grew up in Freemont.
CS: I had her for two years and I remember her saying that, talking about teaching in Cleveland and that it was much worse there and we didn't do anything in her class. [Laughter]
AS: She's all right. She likes my dad.
CS: Yeah. She did like dad. I passed her class with an A. [Cough]
AS: She always got me out of trouble. Got my schedule exactly the way I wanted it.
CS: What about down here as far as, uh, men versus women? Teachers.
AS: There's a lot more girl teachers in-.
CS: Really?
AS: Yeah.
CS: I didn't know that.
AS: The guys, uh, like more of the administrators are guys. There's like two girls.
CS: Yeah.
AS: One.
CS: We do have a male counselor now. We have one male English teacher.
AS: Yeah.
CS: But stereotypically speaking, uh, it doesn't surprise me that the English department is all women or was all women until this year.
AS: Yeah.
CS: What about the history?
AS: Like all the teachers are girls.
CS: Yeah, they are aren't they? Because Mr. Harm quit.
AS: Yeah. No, there's that one short black teacher, that guy.
CS: Oh, that's right. I don't know his name.
AS: I don't know his name, either.
CS: He's very nice. He says hello to me every day but I don't know his name.
AS: They have Asian, there's an Asian teacher. Mr. Romero is Mexican.
CS: Colombian. [Laughter]
AS: He's Hispanic.
CS: He's Colombian.
AS: I know.
CS: He's from Colombia. Yeah and Mr. Tran he's from, he's in that VIF program same as Mr. Romero. But Mr. Romero's English is, is very good. Mr. Tran's English is not very good.
AS: Yeah.
CS: What about, what about your English class here? I have to know because I'm an English teacher. [Laughter]
AS: It's all right. It's pretty hard. It's a good class. That's a smart class. I have that Advanced. So it's about what I'm used to like the work load is not that, is not too much but it's keeping me stimulated.
CS: [Laughter] Well, that's good. How are people doing in that class? Are most people succeeding?
AS: I think so.
CS: Or are the people floundering?
AS: I think there's probably about five kids that are failing.
CS: How big is that class do you think?
AS: Probably about 15 or 20 kids.
CS: That's it?
AS: Mm-hmm.
CS: That's not too bad. I wish some of my classes were smaller sizes.
AS: [Laughter]
CS: Do you like your classes that are smaller sizes or can you even tell a difference?
AS: Um, I don't know. It really doesn't make a difference to me because I, I don't know, I don't talk a lot in any of my classes or, whether there's a bunch of people in there or not.