Chuck Oates


Norman, Oklahoma, USA

A Quick Glance over the Shoulder


Since I haven't written a Christmas letter in a while, it's probably worth a few lines to catch up on the last few years in the Oates clan.  Sadly, the first news is bad news.  My birth mom, Nita J, joined my brother John on July 9, 2002, succumbing to complications of diabetes and a broken hip.  The whole Oates family now consists of spouse Sue, daughter Carri, son-in-law Dustin, and me, and that's about it.  Thank goodness Sue has scores of cousins to share, during the holidays, particularly!


Those of us remaining have all moved toward the teaching profession in the last few years.  Sue has been a part-time academic counselor at Oklahoma City Community College since Carri graduated from high school in 1999 (a year early).  She's also taught College Writing I, Study Skills, Basic Math, and Elementary Algebra at OCCC in the Arts and Humanities Division and in the Science and Math Division.  Sue is evidently trying to see if she can have every job description available at OCCC.  She was Technical Services Librarian there in 1976-1981 B.C.--before Carri.  When Organon Teknika / bioMérieux moved the Oklahoma City clinical laboratory products plant to St. Louis in 2003, I joined Sue at OCCC, first teaching Introduction to Engineering and then adding Math for Technical Careers and Math for Health Careers.  Daughter Carri and son (-in-law) Dustin, having met at O.U. in 2001, married in 2003, a few days after Carri completed her B.S. in Education.  She majored in elementary education with a concentration in Spanish, having switched from electrical engineering in mid-stream (an e.e. to e.e. transition!).  Both Dustin and Carri added degrees in 2005, Dustin a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at O.U., and Carri an M. Ed. in Early Childhood Development, Montessori option at Oklahoma City University.  Dustin served a stint as an OCCC Math Lab assistant before landing first a temporary and then a permanent job at an Oklahoma City heating, ventilation, and air conditioning manufacturer, where he's now designing industrial strength HVAC equipment for Donald Trump's Las Vegas buildings, among others.  Carri completed a one-year internship as a Montessori pre-kindergarten teacher at OKC's Westminster School and then taught traditional pre-K, subverted to Montessori style, at Villa Teresa last year. 


Fall 2006 found Carri using the combination of her teaching background, her concentration in Spanish, and the calculus she took for engineering school to become an adjunct instructor in developmental mathematics at OCCC.  She's just completed a semester teaching Elementary Algebra and Intermediate Algebra to a group of elementary school aides who are working toward advanced certification as Spanish-English bilingual aides in the Oklahoma City Public Schools.  Her students, many of whom are older than Carri, hail from Mexico, Central America, and South America.  Carri's Spanish, as well as her students' algebra, has/have improved markedly over the last few months.  Carri will teach Basic Mathematics and Intermediate Algebra next semester.   She loves teaching little kids, but enjoys her college students as well.  She particularly appreciates the fact that she does not have to deal with her college students' parents!  She and Dustin have moved to Oklahoma City to reduce their commuting time.  They're keeping their house in Norman for a rental house (a.k.a.:  pain in the posterior!).


Both Sue and I continued to teach at OCCC in 2006 and will do likewise into 2007, good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.  I'm teaching Math for Health Careers almost exclusively now.  It consists of lots of units conversions, IV drip rate calculations, time-to-infuse calcs., dilution calculations, and other similar fare.  I'm finding new meaning in the statement made a few years ago by one of my friends who's a cardiologist.  He observed that, "Ninety percent of the people who come in my office are going to be all right.  I can, perhaps, make them more comfortable, but they'll be okay.  Five percent who come in are going to die soon, no matter what I do.  For the remaining five percent, I can make a difference.  The trick is figuring out which ones are in which category."  The percentages are different for my math students' outcomes, about 1/2, 1/4, and 1/4, based on my observations, and-- thank goodness--the consequences of my actions aren't immediately life and death.  Nonetheless, I'm spending a considerable amount of time poring through Sue's and Carri's Montessori teacher-ed. texts and supplementary course materials to find out more about different learning styles--right/left-brain dominant, visual, aural, tactile-kinesthetic, etc.--and how I can accommodate those in teaching math applications.  If any of you know of materials I should read or techniques I should investigate, speak up.


Among our known tasks for 2007 are 1) clearing 23 years of built-up junk from our residence, 2) reviewing a manuscript for a medication math textbook for Thomson Higher Ed.,  3) finding room for our two newly-adopted stray pups, Ginger and Sandie,  and 4) recovering from Rice's recent trouncing in its first bowl game in 45 years.  :^(  


By the way, I noticed that in Rice's academic commercial during the ball game, one of the current students said she came to Rice because of the trees.  Didn't we all !  Rice goes to great lengths to maintain a really beautiful campus.  Apparently, Rice's squirrels are similarly motivated by the abundance of trees and warm weather, according to the following two websites: 

1) -- near bottom of page:  five squirrel rating in the Campus Squirrel Listings and

2) -- a current Rice student's site with pictures of Rice's endearing rodents.   


Squirrelly!  :^)



I hope the New Year brings you prosperity, good health, and great joy!



Merry Christmas and a

Happy New Year to you and yours!

(Io Saturnalia! to all the ancient Romans in the crowd, too.)

Chuck, Sue, Carri, and Dustin