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  • Archive for December, 2011

    Merry Christmas!

    2011 - 12.27

    It has been a very eventful month here at the Vaughn house. Our dog was sick, then I got a bug which was passed to my husband, and then I got in a car accident a few weeks ago and crunched the front end of my car. The accident was not my fault, though, and the other party’s insurance company is paying for my rental car and all $4600 worth of damages to my Aveo. It still scared the bejesus out of me, though.

    I am happy to say that it’s been an okay year. I still don’t have a teaching position, but my husband is doing well at his job; he recently got a promotion. For Christmas, my husband got me an iPhone, much to my absolute glee, and I am moving on up like the Jeffersons! I got to spend lots of time with family, and I got some nice gifts.

    I’m kinda sad that Christmas is over, though. I spent so much time getting up my tree and shopping for gifts that it all seems like it all went by too quickly. Now the new year is rapidly approaching, and I wonder what it has in store for me. Maybe a teaching job or maybe I might give it up. I dunno. I have some resolutions in mind, though the biggest challenge will be actually keeping them.

    On the story front I have made some updates to Mirror, Mirror, and I added a Historical Notes page where you can see historical notes by chapter for Mirror, Mirror. The story should be updated to Chapter 8 for everyone’s reading pleasure. With the holidays in full swing, I have not had time to update with any new poems, let alone edit them. In fact, I haven’t had one minute alone to do any writing whatsoever. Hopefully this last week that I am off I can get something productive done.

    Worst Teacher I Ever Had

    2011 - 12.09

    On Tuesday evening, I attended a school-hosted Christmas party, and a conversation came up regarding our best and worst teachers throughout our elementary and high school years. It is always said that a teacher can greatly impact a child’s life, and as a teacher myself, I cannot tell you how true these words are. I remember well the phenomenal teachers I had as a child — the teachers who were quick to defend, encouraged and admired strengths, helped me with my weaknesses, and ruled the classroom with impartiality and fairness. No student, rich or poor, board member’s child or not, was treated differently.

    However, it is not only the great teachers that are remembered, but the lousy ones as well — the teachers who were unfair, showed favoritism, kicked me down when I was weak, and squashed my creativity. I had such a teacher back in third grade; her name was Mrs. Clark, and she absolutely loathed me. And the feeling was beyond mutual. In fact, I believed I described her to one of my colleagues at the Christmas party as ‘Satan’s daughter.’

    What did my third grade teacher do to merit my scorn even after 20 years? She was just a bad teacher. She favored the children of teachers and school board members. She detested the fact that I could read three grade levels ahead of my peers. I was constantly accused of talking out of turn and ‘bothering’ my classmates when that could not be farther from the truth. She bullied me, and to this day, I still cannot figure out what I did to merit her contempt.

    She used to do round robin reading, and when it came to my turn, I would come to certain words and substitute a better-sounding synonym for that particular word, and it would confuse my classmates. While any other teacher would be proud and impressed at such ingenuity and originality, it only served to infuriate her; she thought I was being a smart ass. I remember being banished, desk and all, to the far corner of the classroom where above my head hung an old metal push-button paper towel dispenser. Standing from my seat had to be done carefully. If I hurried to stand, I would be seeing stars. I still think to this day that my old teacher gleamed some kind of twisted pleasure every time I whacked my head on that damned dispenser.

    It’s one thing for a peer to harass you because then you can pummel the bejesus out of them and they will leave you alone. But when a teacher is bullying you, there are few options, and hitting the teacher is not one of them, unless, of course, you’re that desperate to get out of her room. You’re just a kid, and your options are limited to one of three things: appeal to your parents, suffer in silence, or annoy the hell out of her until she cracks. Of course, the latter lands you in the principal’s office rather quickly, and suffering in silence is setting you up to be a time bomb.

    Things came a a very heated head when an unforgettable incident at school caused my mother to nearly devour my teacher right there in her own classroom. I was doing my seat work with the rest of my classmates. Mrs. Clark was out in the hallway putting up a bulletin board. I asked Danny, the boy who sat across from me, if I could borrow his eraser. He obliged and there was no further conversation. Around me, other children murmured as we worked, but no one dared raise their voices above a whisper. A few moments later, a girl went out of the room. Then she returned, and moments later, I was summoned out into the hallway. As the teacher stapled a border up on the bulletin board, she began to interrogate me; she asked me what it was I had said back in the classroom. I told her that I asked Danny if I could borrow his eraser. Then she asked me what I said about her. I told her that I had no idea what she was talking about. This continued for about five minutes, and I was puzzled the entire time. Finally, she said, “Well I was told that you said that I was stupid and you hope I die.” I was mortified. I would never say such a horrible thing. I told her that I never said that or anything else outside of borrowing the eraser. With a frustrated sigh, she sent me back to the room and the day tarried on until I was called to her desk. There she had ready for me a long note to give to my parents. Of course, I read it the first chance I got, and I was horrified to find that she had every intention of accusing me of saying such an awful thing. Even worse was that my mother would flip out when she read it, and I did not know whether I would get my hide tanned right off the bat or if I would manage to get an explanation out before the thrashing started.

    I trudged home and dallied as long as I could to get there. I reluctantly presented the note to my mother who read it and instantly turned red as I predicted she would. I insisted that I had not done what the teacher had wrote. I explained my side of things and informed my mother that I was confused, that I honestly had no idea what was going on or what my teacher was talking about. My mother decided a conference with Mrs. Clark would be best before my sentence was passed.

    The following morning my mother took me to school and asked me to wait outside the room allow no one in. I waited, and as my classmates began showing up outside the closed door, I could hear my mother screaming at the top of her lungs. My classmates stared at me wide-eyed and awestruck. Some asked what was going on in there. “Believe me, you don’t want to know,” I responded.

    You see, my mother is a truly remarkable and talented person. She has always been a great mother and taught me many things, and I love her dearly. She is, however, a very hot-tempered woman, and it’s never a good idea to provoke her. When my mother is fully enraged, she transforms like a werewolf under the full moon except five times more evil. Her eyes glow red, her teeth elongate, and she thirsts for the blood of the unfortunate prey that drove her into unbridled rage. In other words, her angry side scares the heaven and hell out of me, even as a near thirty-year-old adult.

    I had no idea what was said or what Mom got out of her, but I could tell by her caterwauling that my teacher had invoked the protective, demonic side of my dear, wonderful mother, and I was sure my teacher’s head might roll out of the classroom any moment. The screeching ended, and it was eerily quiet in the room, and I found myself wondering if my mother had truly killed my teacher. The classroom door was flung open. Mom emerged red-faced, and although there was no head hoisted on a pike or blood dripping from snarl (which surprised me), I knew that vengeance had been delivered in a mighty package. I peeked into the room, and there didn’t seem to be any color evident in my teacher’s face. I can’t be sure, but I swear she was trembling,  perhaps because of her near-death experience. I continued my day as usual, and my teacher said nothing to me. Nothing at all, except to tell me to move my desk back with my classmates. When I came home, I found that my teacher had acquitted me of her accusation and that the person who said that horrible thing was the child of a school board member.

    Although I was spared from a lot of trouble at home, the incident has remained with me for life. I think there are truly some teachers who have no idea how much they really affect a child. There’s two types of teachers one never forgets: the outstanding teachers and the lousy ones. My third grade teacher is one lousy teacher I will never forget and the kind of teacher I hope I will never be to a child.