Lawrence School Supt. Al Azinger on Thursday took on a herculean task that even muscle-man Arnold Schwarzenegger found challenging in one of his movies.
Azinger taught an elementary school class, just like Schwarzenegger did in "Kindergarten Cop." Azinger was pretty proud of his accomplishment.
"I survived," Azinger said of the four hours he spent teaching Tonya Waters' second-grade class at India School.
Earlier in the school year, teachers throughout the district submitted their pledge cards for the United Way of Douglas County. Waters' card was drawn in a lottery, and she won a half-day off work with Azinger taking her place.
"It's a lively class, but they really are good kids," Azinger said. "The teacher had done a good job of having some management systems in place, which really helped with having somebody step in."
AZINGER didn't take on the class by himself. Paula Studebaker, a classroom paraprofessional, helped.
Throughout part of the morning, Azinger worked with groups of seven to eight students on a lesson about South American rain forests. He also read a story about dinosaurs, and he supervised the class while sixth-graders came in to help the second-graders with a spelling review.
At that point, Azinger was supervising the class alone, and he had 45-50 students on his hands.
"He seemed to hold up real well," Studebaker said.
Waters, who returned to India in the afternoon, agreed.
"He's still walking and talking and laughing," she said.
Studebaker said she had forgotten to forewarn Azinger about a morning tornado drill. However, Azinger said he wasn't too alarmed.
"I figured it was a drill when the sun was shining and it was one of the nicest days we had for weeks," Azinger said.
AZINGER SAID the last time he taught in a public school classroom on a regular basis was in the 1972-73 school year in Monmouth, Ill. However, that was in a high school. He never taught in elementary school.
How did the India students rate Azinger's debut performance as a grade school teacher?
"He was real friendly," said second-grader Frenza Jackson.
Third-grader Jarred Hook only saw Azinger while the superintendent was on recess duty, but he still had some positive impressions.
"He's a good man," Jarred said. "He has a smile on his face, and he's got a lot of good teachers here."
The students also had a pretty good idea of Azinger's role in the school district.
"He's the boss of the schools," said second-grader Bud Talkington.