Bureaucracy is a machine but not all machines are well oiled

IRON MOUNTAIN — Politics. It’s one of those forbidden subjects that is never supposed to be mentioned when you first meet someone. It’s right up there with religion and money, and yet ironically, the three factors that seemingly run the world are just that: politics, religion, and money. If they’re all such pivotal parts of society, why then are they such taboo topics? Is it because they make people uncomfortable? Obviously. Is it because they are so often misconstrued? Totally. Therefore, more often than not, these vital issues get shoved under the rug, because making waves is frowned upon, but talking without action isn’t.

Politics has been at the center of everything since nearly the beginning of time, and it’s not simply limited to the politics that are aligned with the government. As a teacher, I used to get so frustrated with the fact that often, the administrative boards were typically made up of people who had never taught a day in their lives, and yet they made the decisions on how the students would be taught. Teaching on the South Side of Chicago is arguably one of the hardest places to teach, and the kids weren’t the reason that I felt burnt out at the end of the day. I had guns in my classroom, homeless students who asked for rides, kids with no bus money, fights between girls that resulted in pulled out hair, pregnancies that fell on the shoulders of teens far too young, and mouths that loved to talk back with no real repercussions, yet when I was at my lowest and wanted to quit, it had nothing to do with any of that, but rather with the utter lack of support from an administrative standpoint.

In an article from this past January titled “Why Good Teachers Quit Teaching” on weareteachers.com, a study was conducted on the top five reasons why teachers leave the field of education. Were the students on that list? No, they weren’t. The number one reason was challenging work conditions. It said, “Educators are bombarded with paperwork, ridiculous curriculum, and lack of time along with unrealistic expectations,” and continued saying that, “…unmanageable class size, lack of materials, crappy building conditions, working 10-15-hour days and weekends, ineffective administrators, frivolous meetings and regulations, no support for discipline problems, etc.” All lead to the burnout of educators. The second reason was not enough support and respect. One teacher polled in the study said that “admin” had “no respect for teachers” and “didn’t listen” to what they had to say.

Reason number three had to do with testing and data collection. Teachers are continuously told to “teach to the test,” meaning the content on standardized testing is far more important than the actual learning or growth of a student’s mind. When I was doing my student teaching, we dedicated an entire day’s lesson on how to properly fill in the bubbles on the test answer sheet, and how to complete the required name and personal data portions. That was an entire day of wasted energy. The fourth reason went right along with the third, saying that the kid’s best interests were no longer taken into consideration. Everything became about “passing the test” and “scoring high marks” so that the school looked good, rather than focusing on what was really important for the individual learner. The final reason was that, ultimately, “family comes first.” Teachers said that when they worked such long hours, and experienced such excessive amounts of stress, it took a toll on family members and relations, and in the end, it simply wasn’t worth it. The reason that so many become teachers wasn’t able to be applied because those values weren’t upheld, so they went to a place they could impact: home.

For a long time, I looked at my teaching career as harder than what others must deal with, but I was wrong. Sure, teachers have distinct kinds of pressures placed on them because of state laws and regulations, but the political powers at be are a plague that infect more than just the educational system. It translates over to the medical field, manufacturing world, and hospitality management realm, and so many more. At times, the unjust politics that run every day lives feel so overwhelming that it’s easier to just complain to each other than fight for actual modifications, because we feel that even if we do try, nothing will change anyway.

This line of thinking was exactly why I never spoke out when I was bullied in high school. I told myself that it was better to just not say anything at all, and to give them no further ammo than they already had. I thought that eventually, people would see the truth behind the matter because I didn’t cause any real drama, and that the faculty and admin would eventually realize they had to do something, but sadly, this never came to pass. My parents and grandparents have said that they wished I would’ve told them sooner, because they think they could’ve done something more, but to this day I don’t believe that’s true. When I finally did speak out about the abuse after I’d reached a tipping point, as I’d always suspected, nothing happened. The attackers were given a talking to and a slap on the wrist and then everything went back to the way it was. If anything more had happened, such as an expulsion or suspension, the school would’ve lost money. Thus, another aspect that makes the world go round comes into effect; politics can overrule common sense, but money can rule politics.

How is it that we ask our young people to speak out against bullying and stand up to the proverbial man, when we ourselves tend to shy away from the spotlight? If we don’t believe in our own words, and put action where diction is, how can we truly change the way things are run? Albert Camus has said that there is “no happiness if the things we believe in are different than the things we do.” Maya Angelou says to “do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better,” and Tyler Kent dares to speak the words “I promise if you keep searching for everything that is beautiful in this world, you will eventually become it.” I’ve read these quotes dozens of times and each time I nod my head in agreement and acknowledge the passion sent through my mind but undoubtedly at some point I end up losing faith.

There is an old parable titled “Two Wolves” that I absolutely love. It’s short, but poignant. It goes as follows: “An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life. ‘A fight is going on inside me,’ he said to the boy. ‘It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil — he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego. The other is good — he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you — and inside every other person, too.’ The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, ‘Which wolf will win?’ The old chief simply replied, ‘The one you feed.'”

The political game of life is just like this old moral. In our world, there are two wolves that make up one whole, and they are continuously fighting for power. In my world of teaching, the “bad” wolf that was made up of greed, superiority, and ego fueled the administrations that made the decisions for the school system. So many teachers who burn themselves out trying to be the “good” wolf for their students don’t always win. I’ve always tried to be the change I’ve wanted to see in the world, not because Gandhi challenged me to be but because I’ve always been a firm believe that if you’re not happy with something, change it, and change never happens from sitting on the sidelines. I can’t say with any real kind of certainty that fighting the political machine that so often wreaks havoc will end in success, but I do know that if you fail to try, you try to fail. If you fall seven times, stand up eight. I don’t look back on my high school days and really believe that speaking out could’ve brought change for me, but maybe it could’ve for someone else down the line. Dealing with the politics of teaching was harder than my defiant students, but they were why I put up with it. Maybe speaking up won’t instill immediate change, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an impact. After all, a very small man can cast a very big shadow.





Scenes and sounds, 11:45 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

Sunday: Scenes and sounds, noon; Uno, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Pretty nails, 10 a.m.; library cart, 11 a.m.; brouhaha, 1:15 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crochet and craft, 10 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 10 a.m.; Bible study, 11 a.m.; what’s that word?, 1 p.m.; pokereno, 2 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking?, 11 a.m.; bunco, 1:15 p.m.; Golden K bingo, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; spinning records, 11 a.m.; Daily News, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Room visits, 1 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Exercise, 11 a.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

Sunday: One-to-one church visitors, 8:30; room visits, 9 to 11 a.m.; Yahtzee, 10 a.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; Resident Council, 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Room visits, 9 a.m.; book club, 10 a.m.; Mass, 10 a.m.; mystery ride, 1 p.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; action movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Community breakfast, 9 a.m.; trivia teasers, 10:30 a.m.; getting pretty, 1:15 p.m.; Men’s Club, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; bake sale, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; Christ United, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; Mother’s Day party, 2 p.m.; classic movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Price is Right, 10 a.m.; Pictionary, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m. daily.

Movie, 10:45 a.m. daily, and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Gathering place, 11:40 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 11:40 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Popcorn Day Fridays.

Protestant Church service, 3 p.m. Sunday.

Exercises, 10 a.m. daily.

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; morsels and more, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Who, what, when, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; Lutheran service, 2 p.m.; movie and a manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Remembering when, 10:15 a.m.; Mother’s Day party, Golden Throats entertain, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; K bingo, 2 p.m.; crafts, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: ABC game, 10:15 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; chips n’ chatter, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Parachute, 1:30 p.m. daily.

Monthly support group for grief and loss, 2 p.m. second Monday of the month.

Weekend pet visits.

Sunday: Rosary, 8:30 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Yahtzee, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.; christian fellowship, 5:30 p.m.

Monday: Penny ante, 10 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Bingo, 10:15 a.m.; Resident Council, 2 p.m.; sing-a-long, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; you be the judge, 10:15 a.m.; jokereno, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; bunco, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; derby day, 2 p.m.; whammo, 6:15 p.m.

Friday: Rosary, 9:30 a.m.; trivia, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Jokereno, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; coffee social, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor, Alzheimer’s Unit

Niagara, Wis.

Bread making, noon daily.

Chicken soup, communication program, 4 p.m. daily.

Sensory group, 6 p.m. daily.

Movie, 6:30 p.m. daily.

Sunday: Table ball, 9 a.m.; puzzles, 9:45 a.m.; bible stories, 10:15 a.m.; sing-a-long, 12:15 p.m.; bowling, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; balloon ball, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Table ball, 9 a.m.; spelling bee, 9:45 a.m.; bible stories, 10:15 a.m.; old TV shows, 12:15 p.m.; Animal Kingdom, 1 p.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; kickball, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Play dough molds, 9 a.m.; puzzles, 9:45 a.m.; table ball, 10:15 a.m.; sing-along, 12:15 p.m.; foot soaks, 1 p.m.; creative art, 2 p.m.; balloon ball, 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Play dough molds, 9 a.m.; spelling bee, 9:45 a.m.; coloring, 10:15 a.m.; old TV shows, 12:15 p.m.; through the years, 1 p.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; golf, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday: Table ball, 9 a.m.; puzzles, 9:45 a.m.; Bible stories, 10:15 a.m.; sing-a-long, 12:15 p.m.; foot soaks, 1 p.m.; men’s group, 2 p.m.; parachute, 3:30 p.m.

Friday: Play dough molds, 9 a.m.; spelling bee, 9:45 a.m.; coloring, 10:15 a.m.; old TV shows, 12:15 p.m.; creative art, 1 p.m.; happy hour/music and memory, 2 p.m.; kickball, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: Table ball, 9 a.m.; puzzles, 9:45 a.m.; bible stories, 10:15 a.m.; sing-along, 12:15 p.m.; foot soaks, 1 p.m.; bowling, 2 p.m.; parachute, 3:30 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Coffee clutch, 9:30 a.m. daily

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Ladderball, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Birthday party, 2 p.m.; Rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; poker dice, 2 p.m.

Monday: Balloon volleyball, 10 a.m.; bingo with Bette, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3:30 p.m.; Family Feud, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Resident Council meeting, 10 a.m.; horticulture, 2 p.m.; one on one time, 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Catholic Mass, 9:30 a.m.; tea pot and fancy hat display with Valri, 2 p.m.; birthday party, 2:30 p.m.; music by Grace and Dave, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday: Lutheran service, 10 a.m.; manicures and massages, 2 p.m.; comedy hour, 3:30 p.m.

Friday: Chair exercises, 10 a.m.; table top tennis, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; UNO, 2 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Life connections, 9:45 a.m. every Monday.

Busy bee, 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Rosary 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Sunday: Grace church, 10 a.m.; Pictionary, 10 a.m.; life stories, 2 p.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.

Monday: Song service, 1:30 p.m.; one to one visits, 3:30 p.m.; bowling, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Resident council, 10:30 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; Scattergories, 3:30 p.m.; one to one visits, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Gardening, 10 a.m.; Jim Clements entertains, 2 p.m.; one to one visits, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday: Exercise, 9:30 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; ball toss, 6 p.m.

Friday: Baking group, 10 a.m.; movie, 2 p.m.; fish fry outing, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: Coffee social, 10 a.m.; crafts, 10 a.m.; Mother’s Day social, 2 p.m.

Victorian Heights

Crystal Falls


*Activities director out on leave. Call the home for additional information.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month.

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m.

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Blood pressure and blood sugar testing every fourth Wednesday.

Crystal Falls Center

Head Cook, Lucy Korhonen


Meals will be served on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 5 p.m., with the salad bar opening at 4:30 p.m. The dinner donation is $5 for those age 60 and older and $6 for those younger than 60. There is a $1 charge for take-out containers. All are invited.

Cribbage will be played at 1 p.m. Wednesdays and be concluded in time for dinner.

The center is closed Thursday through Sunday.

Monday: Soup, salad, chicken alfredo, noodles, veggie, and homemade dessert.

Tuesday: Soup, salad, French dip sandwiches, homemade rolls, oven fried potatoes, and homemade dessert.

Wednesday: Soup, salad, cabbage rolls, and homemade dessert.

A site council meeting takes place at 3 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month.

A blood pressure reading can be taken by request at any time while the center is open.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrap bookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free.

Dances take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. Admission is $6; coffee is free.

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.

Evening meals are usually on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with the meal served at 4:30 p.m. A donation of $4 is accepted for seniors age 60 and older but not required.

Home-delivered meals are for seniors 60 and older can be delivered seven days a week. Suggested donation is $4 per meal. For information, call Chris Tramotin at 906-774-2256, ext. 235.

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call the center to book a ride.

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48 hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Four senior dining locations are listed below:

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal at noon Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Jigsaw puzzles, cards, cribbage and board games are available. The coffee is always on as well.

Senior Dining Center-Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Aurora


Serving lunch at 11:30 am, Monday through Thursday

Tipler Town Hall


Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Jigsaw puzzles, cribbage, cards and board games are available. The coffee is always on as well.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60.

Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50/50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60.

Thursday meal, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner at 4:30 p.m.

DICSA operates all meals and transportation out of the Iron River Center. Rides are $2.50 donation for age 60 and older, and $3 required for younger than 60. Call 906-265-6134 to schedule a ride

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Corrie Maule, Meal site manager, 715-251-1603

Jill Anderson, senior center director, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday.

Transportation to the meal site from the Niagara, Wis., area is offered.

They welcome any senior groups that would like to use the meal site as a meeting place — join them for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time.

Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play.

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome.

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea, and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month, with bingo, prizes and a 50/50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50/50.

If Norway-Vulcan are schools are closed due to snow days, so is the senior center. If the schools are on a two-hour delay, the center remains open.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

A senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Monday — Noon meal with tater tot casserole, broccoli, salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert.

Monday — Dinner at 5 p.m. with company chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies, soup and salad bar, and dessert. Bingo and prizes with 50/50. Sign up early.

Tuesday — Mother’s Day dinner with roast pork, mashed potatoes, gravy, squash, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert. Bingo and prizes with 50/50. Sign up early.

Note: A CSFP food card (green card) is available to income-eligible seniors. Make an appointment to get signed up. File of Life packets available at the center.

Note: Ask about the Medicare Savings Program. This program helps people pay their Medicare part B premium. You may be eligible. The local MMAP counselor can be reached at 1-800-803-7174, or dial 211.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m.

Cards: Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday.

Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months.

A puzzle table is available to enjoy.

Volunteers are always welcome.