Our daughter faced her first class as a teacher last year with great enthusiasm. She had many school years behind her, including a $25,000 college education.
The school was a junior high in a city outside Boston, and the night she found out she was hired she shouted, "I got the job" three times over the phone.
Her subject was art. Unfortunately, art and music, in some places, are thought of as subjecs for the idle, and her classroom was in the basement alongside the boiler room.
The distance from the loft where she lived in Boston to the school was a long subway ride and two bus changes.
She rose each morning at 6 and prided herself on never having missed a day. Wanting to look nice for the drab schoolroom, she ravaged Filene's basement for bright blouses and skirts, all priced within her $150-a-week take-home pay. f
The kids were tough, but when she tried to show discipline by having a boy bring a half-eaten roll to the desk, he won her heart by saying, "Really, teacher, it's my breakfast, I've had nothing to eat."
The boys would sit and draw cars and war pictures while the girls drew clothes, none following the programs she had worked our for them over her weekends.
She would become excited when she spotted some talent and try to encourage it, only to find that the budding artist would become embarrassed and prefer to remain with his peers.
Supplies were low; she found herself spending her own money to initiate a project.
She was brave. At each class change, the grossest of the boys would put their noses to hers and shout, "Yere oougly."
She wasn't, of course; a source of strength being that she knew it.
Late one night when she called, she said, in a determined voice, "I'm tired of crying. I told my worst class today that if they want to learn I have something to teach them, I can help them."
Only a few days later, after a conference with the parents of a toublemaker, she sat at her desk going over some papers.
The boy, having been punished some way or other, stood up and threw an object at her, splitting her lip.
She rang the emergency bell for the principal and left the room, bleeding and crying, to see the nurse.
Upon her return, a few boys gathered around her saying they would get the one who did it, but she begged them not to.
The teachers' union urged her to swear out a warrant for his arrest, but she was confused and determined to help the boy and did not want the incident to leave the classroom.
Summer and time heal. The nightmare seems over, and this fall she will try teaching again, only this time on a grammar school level. All you can say as parents is, "The best that we have is with you."