It’s a new day, which means a new assignment. Today’s placement is special because I’m headed back to my old high school!
I start in the staff room and recognize no one. All of my teachers have retired. This is what happens when 30 years passes.
I enter the classroom and students are fighting over a milkshake.
“Give me my milkshake, bitch!” a student yells across the room with both his hat and coat on backwards.
“I’m gonna punch your face if you talk to me about your milkshake one more time,” another student screams back.
“No one is punching anyone so sit down,” I say from the front of the room.
The students are excited about having a supply teacher today. It’s party time.
The teacher next door mentions something about the last supply teacher walking out on this group. I’ve been told twice that I can call the VP if I need him.
We’re still on the quadmester schedule, so I’m mentally preparing myself for the magic and wonder that is about to unfold over the next several hours.
“My name is Ms. Grates. I’ll be your teacher today. I actually graduated from this high school,” I say as if I’m cool.
Nobody responds. Nobody cares.
“I was part of the very first grade 9 class to start in this school when it was first built,” I continue like the town historian.
“Bruh, that’s old,” Roy says from the back.
“Bruh, me? Am I the Bruh?”
At me, not with me.
“You have two handouts to complete and then you can use the rest of the time for other assignments or silent reading.”
“Books are for bitches,” I hear one of the milkshake warriors say.
It’s the second time I’ve hear him use the word.
“Things have really changed in this school. When I was here, you weren’t allowed to swear in front of your teachers.”
“You’re allowed to swear in front of your teacher. You just can’t swear at your teacher,” Roy says before taking a bow.
A group of students at the back high five each other with a collective good one.
“Ah, so you can say the word bitch in front of me, but you can’t call me one to my face? Is that how it works?”
The same students at the back high five each other again. This time for me. Other students stop talking and look my way.
The office buzzes the classroom.
“We’re just checking in to see how things are going in there,” the secretary asks politely for all to hear.
“We’re all doing great,” I respond enthusiastically, “Nothing at all to report.”
Roy takes his hat off and sits down.
“I know many of you don’t want to be here right now, but we have an afternoon together and I don’t want any of you getting in trouble. Work with me and I’ll work with you.”
“I respect that,” Roy says before writing WERK WITH ME AND I’LL WERK WITH YOU on the board and asking the class to clap for me.
We made it through the afternoon without me having to buzz the VP or run away. Barely, but we did it.
It was a few minutes before the bell and the milkshake fiasco was starting to roar its ugly head again, so I offered to answer questions about what the school was like in the olden days.
“Did they have buses back then,” the students asked.
“They did,” I replied blowing their minds.
The end of the longest afternoon ever had come to an end and Roy approached my desk.
“I decided you’re not really a Ms. Grates. You’re a Ms. G.” he said.
“You know what, Roy. You might just be onto something.”
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