I’m moving slow, I know, but you know i got some things lined up. Stay with me and I promise It’ll get quite interesting.
Y’all know I like to build tension
Justin’s cry awoke Rachel. They were still at the table and she had been trying to spoon feed the difficult boy for the past half hour. Yawning, she looked over at the lesson in front of her and moaned to herself. Three more months and she would receive her teaching certificate.
She would also receive her bachelors in Education with honors.
Right now, her mind wanted to go back to dreamland Again, Justin cried awaking her Mommy senses and immediately she felt renewed. Grabbing his bottle, she decided to forgo his bath and wipe him down with a baby wipe before putting him to bed.
She wanted to get to bed as early as possible. Not only did she have her finals, but also she would be entering her first ay at her new high school. Coming in a month into the beginning of the school’s year was really good especially for high school students. She had been warned that this was going to be a difficult class. The students were the smart type but not good enough for honors and often were disruptive.
She could handle them, she assured herself as she put the alarm on and snuggled into bed. She would wake up early, get the kids over to Mrs. White’s house and get to school bright and early.
* * *
Pulling up in the parking lot, Rachel huffed to herself. Nothing was going right today. She had set the alarm, but late in the night Robert decided to unplug the alarm to put up a stolen VCR he had bought for twenty bucks from a crack head and watch television very loud all night long. So when she had awakened to see that he was over an house late, she had almost screamed in frustration especially when Justin refused to stay still while she changed his diaper.
Robert had stayed asleep through her entire morning frantic episode to get out the house, not bothering to get out of bed until she was on her way out the door and then demanded to be taken to the unemployment office. On top of that, he took his time getting dressed and getting out to the car. She wasn’t going to argue with him about the fact that he was the reason she was running late once he finally did get in the car.
Finding a parking spot way in the back, she grabbed her bags from the trunk and rushed inside. The office secretary, Laura Preston, gave her a disapproving look. Another teacher had told Rachel that Laura was a substitute here and had applied for the position that Rachel had gotten thinking she could easily get it because she had been at the school, but instead they offered her the office secretary job, which she took and also part time substituted whenever they were real short on teachers.
“Mr. Davish is watching your students instead of being on hall duty, Mrs. Herlong,” she said with an air of condemnation.
Rachel grabbed her mail and rushed up the three flights of stairs to her class.
The third floor was under construction and the school was trying to move all the classes to the second floor, but ran out of room. Her class was the only one left behind on the third floor, but she didn’t mind the seclusion it offered her.
Dr. Dwayne Davish, the English Department Head gave her a disapproving look as he quieted down the class. There were some derogatory remarks made Rachel could hear some of the students commenting on how young she looked, but she ignored them al land proceeded over to Mr. Davish setting her items down on her desk.
“I’m really sorry, Mr. Davish, she aid apologetically keeping her voice low for just his ears only. “It won’t happen again.”
“We’ll talk about it on your break, Mrs. Herlong. Right now you need to get your class under control and get the days lesson started,” he snipped and left the room.
Pushing all the mornings’ negativity out her mind, she took a deep breath and faced her eighteen students with her most brilliant smile. The students were certainly curious to know what she had to smile about and became suddenly quiet. When she knew she had almost everyone’s attention, she began to recite “Phenomenal Women,” by Maya Angelou off the top of her head, coming out from behind the desk and walking around the room. By the middle of the poem the students were certainly intrigued with her performance and by the end some were even smiling with her.
When she was done, she announced, “My name’s Rachel Herlong. I’ll be your teacher for the rest of this year for English and Homeroom. Let’s open up our books to page three hundred and four. We’re going to learn about hyperboles.” She said it as if this was going to be the greatest experience of their life. Books began to open – Some energetically, others reluctantly, but the fact that they opened was exciting enough her Rachel.
By the time the bell rung, she had figured out the trouble section of the class. There were five boys and one girl in the far corner of the room. Two of them couldn’t read well, and two others were just clowning around all the time. She had to separate them, but even when it was time for the class to work on their own they still managed to disrupt the class. The largest one in the group, Derrick James, managed to escape her notice until the end when she asked the disruptive group if they had done their work. Of course the four said no, but Derrick said he had been done.
Trying to hide her disbelief, she came over to his desk leaning over his shoulder and looking at the well-written paper. He had followed instructions to the letter and had even done the bonus assignment in the book.
Promptly collecting his paper, she gave him an extra assignment to keep him busy thinking that should stop the disruptive group for a while, but even at the end, she was surprised as everyone filed out of classroom, he had stopped at her desk and placed the finished extra assignment on her desk and had the nerve to give her a triumphant wink.
Checking the assignment, she saw it was correct and she would need to look up his file to see what was the kid’s story.
At her break hour, she went to the counselor’s office before going to see Mr. Davish and asked to pull Derrick James folder.
The counselor looked a little nervous. “Has he done something wrong?”
Rachel shook her head. “No, I just wanted to know why he’s able to complete my work so fast.”
The counselor handed her a file that was already sitting on his desk. She noticed the Sawyer County Records immediately and felt a little intimidated. “Four years? He was just a baby?” she asked the counselor hoping there were answers. “Why was the sentence been so hard on a twelve year old? Usually they are just given a slap on the wrist and let go.”
Mr. Davish came in the room on her last sentence and remarked shrewdly. “He didn’t look like a baby, especially when the cops caught him and he was able to physically bring down three of them at the age of twelve years old. The judge didn’t look too favorable on him and made and example of him.”
“Did you look at his test scores?” she asked her department head.” He shouldn’t even be in my class.”
“But he’s going to stay in your class. Just because you’re scared of him, Mrs. Herlong, his intelligence is not an excuse to get him out of your class.”
Snorting insulted, Rachel said, “I’m not scared of him. Why would I be?”
The counselor spoke up stuttering, “B-Because everyone else is.”
“He’s not properly challenged and I don’t think eleventh grade English is a place for him. I want to request he be moved to honors.”
“NO!” Mr. Davish said flatly. “You’ll do well to get your butt in on time on a daily basis, Mrs. Herlong, and not use your students as an excuse to get out of teaching. Derrick James is sixteen years of age and he’ll stay in eleventh grade English as part of his curriculum to get a degree from this school.”
Mr. Davish stormed out the room and she was left very speechless about Derrick James
“He’s scared of him too,” the counselor whispered as if the walls had ears and Mr. Davish could hear them.
“Can I keep this file?” she asked, holding the file close to her.
“I need it by the end of the day.”
She promised to return it by that time. That was more than enough time to get to the copier and make her a copy.
Leaving out the office, she returned to her own room. Underneath her door, she found the poem “Ego-Trippin” by Nikki Giovanni and at the bottom someone had written, “This would have been a better example of a hyperbole.”
Looking down the hall to see if there was anyone standing around, she had to wonder who had left the paper under her door, but obviously the messenger was not going to reveal him or herself.
Sitting in her classroom all-alone, she looked over Derrick James’ file in depth and made notes. If they wouldn’t put him where he belonged, then she would see about getting a recommendation for him.