Under Construction: Sherman Alexie Is My Hero

Inspired by Sherman Alexie's Indian Education

A Teacher's Education

1st Year
      Bright-eyed and Bam-Bam-esque, I broke up a girl fight in the hallway on the second day of school. Hair flying, brown skin under long fingernails...over a boy.

2nd Year
     The AP asked if I was going to model the swim team's suit for him. This was before there were carefully crafted sexual harassment policies taped on every classroom wall.

4th Year
     On a leave of absence I taught 3rd grade in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria where the entirety of humanity was dictated by the gentle-boy 's rules on the picon (masticated volcanic rock) soccer pitch. I patched many bloody knees.
       Nada, a refugee from Liberia joined our class in January. Nada is not a good  name to have when you are scared and in the 3 rd grade. I cleaned up a lot of vomit.

6th Year
     Got married on September 29th. Being 3 weeks into the year, and having seen the zillions of notebook pages with the curly "Mrs." signatures of my high school girls, I kept my maiden name.
      For my 18th wedding anniversary, I tried to surprise my husband by joining our family and taking his last name. I got as far as the DMV before I gave up...deeds, passports, credit cards to go. Besides, I hate writing cursive D's. 

9 th Year
    After 3 years of due diligence, no baby would come. My husband and I decide to take teaching posts in India. Six weeks before  we left, I was pregnant.
    At Open House in September, I announced to a roomful of multi-national parents that I would be on maternity leave three weeks before winter break thinking I was making some grand announcement having skillfully concealed my pregnancy under flowing dresses. The parents laughed. They already knew. Their sons and daughters told them their math teacher was pregnant when they were asked, " how was the first day of school?"

11th Year
     An unsolicited notice came in the mail announcing a job opening at a brand new high school in a Windsortown.  Turns out the Latina women who used to fight in the hallway were tired of bussing their kids 12 miles up the road and organized the community to build a school right there in their own neighborhood.
     We housed ourselves and our 150 Freshman in 5 rooms on the middle school campus and 3 rented rooms from the nearby business park. My room was referred to as Skunk Alley.
     The football team was dismantled in late September...more than half the team was on academic probation.

14th Year
     We held the first graduation in the next town, at the local center for the arts. Everyone attending wore their Sunday best. No jeans, no flip- flops. We were so proud. The valedictorian was on his way to Stanford.
     (Stanford kid now teaches Math and Physics at our high school. He married his High School sweetheart 2 years behind him at our high school. She is finishing up her work helping  the Afgani's write their first democratic constitution.

15th Year
     We moved onto our own 20 acre campus with the town's first live theater,  2 story multi-media building, state-of- art science labs, and room for a football stadium. We enrolled 360 Freshman.

16th Year
     September 11, 2001. My 32 students and I were sitting in our shiny new room. We couldn't stand being alone. We joined 75 Juniors and Seniors in their Humanities Core and watched the CRT TV in silence.

Years 17 through 23
    A big fat blurr...

24th Year
    With our 6th and 9th grade daughters' blessing  we take teaching posts in Ghana, Western Africa. A year with limited water, sweltering heat, working, playing, and going to school together is the stuff of dreams come true.
    Watching lizards chow down on our left over French fries, ducking fruit bats on our bikes at dusk, cries of "cake bread" in the early hours, holding HIV babies at the orphanage every Wednesday afternoon, releasing newly hatched leather back turtles into the Atlantic, and being offered 2000 camels for our eldest daughter 's hand in marriage on our Spring Break trip to Egypt joined us profoundly as a family of appreciators and travelers.

27th Year
     The school district with the fancy new high school, after 16 years of steady growth, laid off 40 teachers to meet its fiscal responsibilities.
     Don't worry mamas, we're still gonna get your babies into Stanford.

28th Year
     The eldest daughter is moving across country to attend a university with an amazing study abroad program.
     The youngest daughter is spending the YEAR in France.

      We are empty nesters way sooner than we expected.
      It's our own full-hearted faults.

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1 comment :

  1. Wow! I'm only at year 8. You are inspiring me to do something like this...scrapbook style.


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