Monday, January 5, 2015

"How could I ever discipline this?!"

Ms. Yellow had been a teacher in the town for more than 20 years.  She had grown up in Northern Maine, went to college at the University of Maine, Fort Kent and had never been south or west of Boston.  She was new in town when she took the English position but had added friends and a husband along the way.  She had also added lines on her face, and spotty memories of students who seemed to come and go like dreams.

When she started she wore her blond hair in lose curls, held half up in a clip with her bangs curled and hair sprayed into a pompom poof.  But even though she came by being a blond naturally when she started to go gray she dyed her hair a light brown and cut it into a bob more suited for NYC then rural Maine.  Sometimes she would paint her nails a deep red and watch her fingers while she typed papers for the online Master's program she had enrolled in.  Sometimes she would close her eyes while she sipped her coffee and imagine that she was somewhere exotic drinking a coffee she couldn't pronounce.

What kept her teaching was not her success stories.  The straight A students who went on to escape Maine winters for colleges in places like Virginia, Miami and Southern California.  It was not the students who challenged her in class, forcing her to re-think her positions on things and pushing her out of her comfort zone.  It was the ones she failed.  The ones who came with so much promise and so much trouble.  The ones who carried scars behind their eyes and who she knew were screaming.  She had become a teacher to reach those students...but there was usually not enough time in the day and she could never seem to do enough.  It was them she tracked on Facebook or through Google searches long after they left school by dropping out or graduating.  The ones she could have done more for, but for whatever reason didn't.

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