Teacher’s Pets: Tedd Walley & Angela Breckenridge’s Cats

teacherpet

Dee Shedrick

Dee Shedrick

What is the birthday of each cat?
“Lil’ Ed and Karl were born on May 20, 2010. Alice’s birthday (Little Momma) is unknown, but about a year earlier than the boys.”

What is each cat’s favorite activity?

“Lil’ Ed: Climbing up people and things, sleeping in our hammock, sleeping on Angela’s keyboard when she’s working, and finding ways to get his collar off and hiding it in a trove somewhere.

Karl: Annoying Angela’s brother, Gates, getting in his face nose-to-nose, licking fingers, fitting into things that are smaller than his body, trailing after us when we’re walking away from the court, sniffing around anything new, and furry mouse toys dipped in catnip.

Little Momma: Finding nooks to sleep and snore in, playing with furry mice toys in her box, hanging off the balcony, trying not to bother anyone, and needling her claws.”

Little Mamma

Little Mamma

Do they all sleep together?
“Yes, they do, even with Little Momma sometimes. They used to sleep all yin and yang like. Nowadays, they’re just as happy to just be in the same room as everyone else.”

Are they house or alley cats?
“Alley-house cats, but our house is the main house.”

Do you dress your cats up?
“No!”

What is the inspiration behind the names that you chose for each cat?
“Alice was named by Angela’s son, Elliott; since she is their mother we’ve taken to calling her Little Momma, as well. Karl Newman Magoo was named by Angela’s brother, Gates

Karl

Karl

Magoo. I added Newman to his name because he has Paul Newman’s blue eyes. Lil’ Ed Magoo, also named by her brother, was named because he was the runt of the litter who almost didn’t make it. Thanks to Angela, who carried him and nursed him with an eye dropper for weeks, he came through. They have the last name Magoo, after Angela’s brother (his legal last name is, indeed, Magoo) because when Gates and I took them in to get their shots, their tags, and to be fixed they put them under Gate’s last name by mistake.”

Have any one of the cats ever done anything really naughty?
“We’ve come home to suspicious activity, messes, and ‘gifts’ (that is, dead or half-dead birds or lizards) at the door, but with no pictures or proof— there were no convictions. Otherwise, the rap sheet for them is long.

Karl is known for going over to any of our neighbors’ houses and sleeping in their pet’s beds. He also likes to lie in the middle of the bed so you can’t make it. In fact, if there’s something you’re trying to do or a place you’re trying to get to you can guarantee he’ll be right in the way.

Lil Ed

Lil Ed

Lil’ Ed has to be in Angela’s lap, or laying on her keyboard when she’s trying to grade. He always loses his collar, to the point that we suspect there’s a pile of them out there somewhere waiting to be discovered. He also likes to pounce on his mother while she’s sleeping, which is just all kinds of wrong in our book. He once, as a kitten, ran full speed up my leg and stopped at my shoulder in an attempt to rescue his brother from a bath.

Karl and Lil’ Ed also like to team up on Angela’s brother, Gates, by sleeping on each side of him so he can’t roll over or adjust the covers. Once we came home to a lamp broken on the bathroom floor and the toilet filled with broken glass from the lamp. No suspects there…

Little Momma pretty much stays out of trouble. Go figure where her boys get it from? Once she did chase a raccoon twice her size from our porch. Don’t mess with a Siamese, man!”

What do you love most about having pets?
Angela: “Oh, the way curmudgeon Gates insists Karl is his nemesis, and yet he gives him loving whenever no one’s looking. The way Lil’ Ed likes to be carried around like when he was a baby, and no matter how you hold him he will always position himself on your left shoulder. The way Little Momma is so sweet about asking to be held, she will put a paw on your knee and not jump up unless you coax her to and if you can’t she’ll curl up right by one of your feet and go to sleep with a paw or her chin on it.”

Tedd: “I love how Karl can’t meow, he can only squeak like squeaky toy. I love how Lil’ Ed actually talks to you like a small child and follows you around the house telling you about their day. I love how Little Momma’s meow ends in inflection upwards, like she’s always asking a question. And no matter what kind of crappy day we have at work, they’re glad to see us, unconditionally.”

 

Melanie Deffendall: Champion for Women

In observance of Women’s History Month, we would like to share the contributions of Melanie Deffendall and the Irma Thomas Center for Women in Search of Excellence (W.I.S.E.) Women. Women’s History Month is an annual celebration that honors the achievements of women of yesterday and today for the entire month of March.

Dee Shedrick

Dee Shedrick

The Irma Thomas Center for W.I.S.E. (Women in Search of Excellence) Women is the brainchild of Melanie Deffendall, Delgado Community College’s Assistant Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of College and Career Success Skills (CCSS). When Deffendall noticed a larger percentage of female students on Delgado’s City Park Campus she also saw a need to start a program for women. “Delgado is 70 percent female and we had nothing to help females stay in school,” said Deffendall.

The initial program was a six-week speaker series that attracted about 30 to 50 enthusiastic women on Saturday mornings. Because of the success of the series, Deffendall realized that the program needed a permanent home. So with Deffendall’s persistence to find an actual space to house the women’s program, the Irma Thomas Center for W.I.S.E. Women became a reality in 2003.

After acquiring a place, the center needed a name, so Deffendall asked singer and Delgado graduate Irma Thomas if the center could be named after her. “Irma Thomas has lived the life that many of our female students have lived,” said Deffendall. Thomas had three children while she was still a teenager and had to juggle her time between work and school. “Thomas comes about once a month to talk to the ladies—as she calls them,” Deffendall said. One of those talks led to a student gaining the confidence to enroll in nursing school.

IMG_0689People come into the center everyday needing help with all sorts of issues. One student in particular who stood out was a young female student who didn’t have the balance necessary to hold her classes or a credit card to put on file to create a payment installment plan for the remaining balance of her tuition fees. All she needed was $8 to hold her classes, so Deffendall loaned her the money and had the student look her in the eye and promise her that if she put the tuition on her credit card that the student would pay back every cent with a monthly payment on the same day once a month until it was paid out. The student agreed. Later, Deffendall got a call from the student asking her for a reference to get a job to earn the money to pay Deffendall back, and of course, Deffendall obliged. The student got the job and every month on the same day the student came to the office to pay her bill until it was paid off. At the beginning of the current semester, the student stopped by to visit Deffendall with a thank you card that read, “I wouldn’t be in school if it wasn’t for you.” Deffendall noticed the student’s transformation to a more confident responsible person. “One person can make a difference,” said Deffendall.

Deffendall doesn’t have any huge plans for the center except to continue what she is doing right now such as sponsoring Crafty Fridays, HIV Testing, and other educational programs, but most importantly, the center will continue to be available as a place where female students can come together regularly to talk, get to know each other, bond, and study.

Like many other Delgado students, Deffendall returned to school at the age of 35 to pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree in sociology from the University of New Orleans (UNO). Deffendall always wanted to teach, but when she initially came to Delgado in 1996 there were no openings so she started out working in Veterans Upward Bound. Eventually she was offered an opportunity to teach in Human Development (HUDV). As time went on HUDV changed to CCSS. In addition to a new and improved name, the program received a better textbook and curriculum. “The students who take this course and pass it successfully pass their other courses at a 24 to 34 percent higher rate,” said Deffendall.

Deffendall goes through a variety of emotions teaching at the college day-to-day from comedy to tragedy. “It’s very fulfilling because we give students hope and that doesn’t cost anything,” said Deffendall. “It’s not always about money; sometimes it’s about encouragement.” Deffendall’s purpose is to help other people help themselves. She’s had so many people tell her that nobody else but her believed in them. “I always tell my students ‘my success is your success,’” said Deffendall, very humbly.

Student Success Snapshot- Robert Gassiot

10-THINGS-U-SHOULD-KNOWGassiot with mom 2

Dee Shedrick

Dee Shedrick

When did you graduate? “December 1991.”

What was your major? “Business studies with a concentration in marketing and accounting.”

Where do you work now? “Children’s Hospital.”

What do you do? “I am the director of printing and graphics services and I also teach graphic design as an adjunct at Tulane.”

You described yourself as a good ole New Orleans boy; what do you mean by that? “I am Southern gentleman, a true southerner with Southern hospitality.”

What are you passionate about? “Architecture, fonts, graphic design, interior design, cycling, and gardening. All of these things make me happy.”

What is the history of your name? “French. My last name is in the Paris phone book.”

What is your favorite habit good or bad? “Exercising.”

Do you eat sushi? “Yes.” If so, what do you like? “The avocado roll with lots of wasabi.

Do you attribute Delgado and your community college experience to your success? “Certainly Delgado has played a role in my success. My time at Delgado inspired me to continue my goals. I continued my studies and got a bachelor’s degree (with honors) and a master’s degree from Tulane University.”