By Paul Clement
Open for business! Celebrating with friends and family at our Grand Opening!!!
In the newest Connect Gazeta, Scott did a small interview with me about the fact that this year will be the tenth school year in Żory since we first opened Connect!
The problem is that a Connect Gazeta article is too short for me to tell you my most important memories from my time in Żory, so I decided that in this week’s blog post, I will tell you about my top 10 list of Żory memories! But, even that was too short, so I had to do a top 11 list instead…
11. The last big party!
Old owners and new owners… I’m really happy that Scott is still with the school and Jakub and Izabela are doing such a great job!
I will start things off with my last memory from Żory… our 2014 end of the year party. This was a pretty emotional party. I knew that I was leaving Poland and our school was already sold to Jakub and Izabela, so this was a passing of the torch, where we could introduce the new owners to some of our students and I could say goodbye.
When Scott and I first decided to open Connect, we had a long talk about what it means to be in business and we both agreed that we thought it was possible to be good people and try to help our community and be successful at the same time. That’s why we had so many charity auctions and lotteries at our Christmas and end of the year parties. We continued that tradition to our final end of the year party!
The things that I remember most about this party were:
– That it had a 70s theme (Scott was always the best at thinking up themes for our parties!)
– That Jakub took us for a ride in his Volkswagen Beetle!
– That there were really good burgers at the party, because we had it at Zymft!
10. The hornet incident(s)
Some of you might remember our first location for Connect. It was on the rynek in Żory in a very old building. That building got hot in the summer and we didn’t have air conditioning, so we had to open up the windows.
I was teaching a lesson one evening in either July or August and we were the only group in the school at that time. We were having a good lesson and we were near the end of it when we got an unwanted guest!
A monster flew in through the open window. It was probably attracted to the light. It was a hornet. A big, scary, mean hornet. This thing was the size of a small bird!
It was flying around the room and it looked pretty angry, so we did the only thing that we could do… we evacuated the room, closed the door behind us and went to another room!
And a week later? The same thing happened to me with another group!
9. The 1st ever Meet the Teachers!
One of the things we decided to do at Connect (and we are happy that we made this decision) was to have what we called “Social Events.” I will tell you a secret… they were really parties!
We needed to have a reason for each of our social events… we couldn’t just go to the bar with our students for no reason! Every social event had some connection with English. We did Games Night (where we played team games like Jeopardy, Scattergories and Wheel of Fortune all in English), St. Patrick’s Day Karaoke, Pub Quiz Night, Thanksgiving and Halloween parties and, of course, Meet the Teachers.
We had a very small group for our first Meet the Teachers Night. If I remember correctly, we still had only two teachers… Scott and me! We got one big table at a cafe called Czekolada and we had a great time with our small group of students!
8. The Karaoke Nights!
Is that Axl and Slash? No… it’s me and our first ever teacher and great friend who we miss, Jana, singing some karaoke!
We really wanted our social events to be a time where students could practice their English outside the classroom. But sometimes we just needed a party!
We tried to connect our karaoke nights to English as much as possible… they were always a St. Patrick’s Day theme and students could sing in English if they wanted.
We had a few karaoke nights in different locations and they were always a great time… even if some of the singing was really bad… I’m looking at you, Scott!!!
7. Too cool at school
I told you that our school got really hot in the summer, but it got even colder in the winter!
The heating system in the school was really old and each classroom had it’s own small heater. One of the funniest things to see in our first year or two was Jana, Scott, Helen and me all sitting in the teachers’ room with our winter hats, coats and gloves on preparing for our lessons!
The thing that I remember the most about this was Monday mornings. After the school was closed for the weekend and the heaters were off, it took hours to get the school even a little warm!
6. The Grand Opening!
Our old boss from Rybnik, Jason Michaels, came to wish Scott and I the best at our Grand Opening!
It was a really fun time for Scott and me when we first opened our school. Yes, it was a lot of work. Yes, we had to take money from the bank. No, we didn’t have any students yet in Żory… but it was fun and exciting.
We invited some important people from Żory to our grand opening. We also had a lot of friends and family there. Even our old bosses, Jason and Anna from Intensity School in Rybnik, were there!
I made a lot of food for the party and we had champagne and cut a ribbon to our first classroom to show that we were open for business!
Christmas treats and a couple of Christmas elves!!!
Anyone who knows me knows that I love Christmas! We always had a big Christmas party every year at the school.
We did a presentation about Christmas in our countries, we had food that I made for the party and we had Christmas music. It was really a lot of fun. And then… we went to a local restaurant or pub for our Christmas Charity Auction!
Each teacher offered a prize for the auction. The teachers didn’t have to do this, but every teacher who worked for us wanted to be a part of this. Some great prizes that we had in Żory were: a guitar lesson from David and a Spanish themed evening with Jana and Helen!
Every year, Scott and I offered a prize of a dinner cooked at your house with Scott as the waiter and me as the cook. We also went to businesses in Żory and asked them to give something for our charity auction. Most businesses were really happy to be a part of it!
4. Żory lunches
Scott and I worked long days in Żory! Sometimes we would have a lesson at 8:00 in the morning and we wouldn’t finish until 9:30 in the evening. But we didn’t work the whole day… we had a lot of breaks.
This is how I started to know a lot of restaurants in Żory. A lot of them have changed now. Old places closed and new places opened. My biggest memories were of three places:
– Zapiecek was a restaurant owned by our student Hanna. It was probably my favourite place to go for lunch in Żory. They had great lunch specials and it was a nice place to go in the afternoon and prepare for lessons.
– R-ka – The official name of this restaurant was Rok_______. I can never remember what the number after the word “Rok” was! The best thing about this restaurant for me was that it was so close to the school. It was really easy for me to go down and have a quick lunch when I had only an hour break.
– The chicken place! I really don’t remember the name of this place, but Scott, Helen, Jana and I were all excited because there was a small fast-food chicken business opening downstairs from us. It was fast and easy to get some chicken and fries, but it wasn’t open for very long. The one thing that I remember from this business is that the owner always tried to correct my English. I ordered chicken strips and he always said “Oh, chicken stripes!” So that you all know… there isn’t a meal in English called chicken stripes!
3. The Halloween Parties!
Scott and I with the winners of the best costumes at our first Halloween Party!
We knew that November 1st is a very important day in Poland and we did not want to make anyone angry by having a Halloween party the night before, so we always had our Halloween parties the weekend before this.
These were a lot of fun and the students (and teachers) did a fantastic job of making great costumes! In North America, it’s easy to find a Halloween costume, because a lot of stores sell complete costumes. It isn’t as easy in Poland, but we had some really great and creative costumes.
Our first ever Halloween party was at the pub Spinoza.
2. The first End of the Year Party!
End of the year at Zapiecek with one of our all-time favourite students, Monika Ostrawska!
We were very happy with our first year in Żory! We started with only Scott and I teaching and at the end of the year we had two new teachers, who both wanted to stay for a second year! We also had a lot of new and great students!
That is why our first End of the Year Party was so special. It was at Zapiecek and we had a great day on the patio. The weather was great and Hanna did a super job at the restaurant!
We gave certificates to the students with the best test scores in each level at the school and we did a charity lottery.
1. The first Charity Auction Prize!!!
Getting some food ready for our first ever charity auction prize!
This was awesome… and one of my favourite memories from Poland!
The winners of our first charity auction prize – a dinner cooked by me and served by Scott, were our friends and great students Monika and Przemek Rogala.
The prize was a dinner for two people, but we agreed to make it for more than two. Jim was there. Our wives were there. Another student was there. Even the Rogala cat had some food!
Everyone enjoyed the dinner… and the wine! I remember some of us standing on the chairs and singing at the end of the evening. It was a great time and we were happy to continue this tradition by offering the meal every year in our charity auction. And this wasn’t our last time cooking for the Rogala family!
memory – When we remember something, we call that thing a memory. We can have either good or bad memories.
e.g. I have a lot of good memories from Christmas with my family when I was a child.
e.g. Don’t talk to her about working at her old job. She has a lot of bad memories from it.
pass the torch – Before the Olympics start, there are people who run with a torch (pochodnia) and pass it to the next person. We can say that when one important person stops their job and another person starts it, they pass the torch to that person.
e.g. The captain of the football club passed the torch to the young superstar in his final year with the club.
charity – This is an organization that takes money (or food or medicine) and gives it to people who need it.
e.g. Wielka Orkiestra is a famous charity in Poland.
hornet – szerszeń
e.g. I am not afraid of bees, but if I see a hornet I run away!
evacuate – ewakuować
e.g. You have to go outside. There is a fire and the firemen are evacuating the building.
heater – grzejnik
ribbon – wstęga
break – przerwa
e.g. You are working really hard. I think you should sit down and take a break.
order – zamawiać
e.g. Never order a hamburger at that restaurant! They use really cheap meat!!!
Do you understand?
1. What was the theme of our first End of the Year Party?
a) It didn’t have a theme.
b) The 70s
c) St. Patrick’s Day
2. What did we NOT do at our Christmas parties?
a) eat food
b) sing karaoke
c) talk about Christmas in our countries
3. What could we buy to eat at our last End of the Year Party?
b) chicken “stripes”
c) a dinner cooked by Paul and served by Scott
4. Which restaurant/pub was NOT a location for one of our social events?
5. We did NOT have a social event for this holiday.