Selma sighed and
looked out the window nearest her desk. Beyond the schoolyard, doughty teens
were smoking. Most of their peers, however, sat on benches or on the ground,
their faces curtained by hair and their necks stretched toward their
The English teacher
sighed again upon glancing at a stack of papers. Insisting on handwritten
homework added to her take-home load but warded against plagiarism. Whats
more, she often compared those assignments to her students classwork.
Felicity had laughed
at her, had called her, in front of all the occupants of the teachers
room, old-fashioned. There existed apps to check originality, or
the lack thereof. Given global inflation, there were more worrisome things with
which their schools attendees were concerned than borrowing a
paragraph or twenty.
In answer, Selma had
given Felicity a small, tight smile. Yes, increasing numbers of students were
coming to school hungry, and yes, three times the districts original
budget for gratis meals had been spent before the first term ended.
Nonetheless, there were kids who wanted to go to college and others who ought
to want to go.
instance, who had been carving up his desk with his stainless steel blade, had
been redirected by Selma into making models of Greek and Shakespearian
theatres. Further, under the tutelage of Matt Powers, the schools chief
librarian, Damien had gained skills in Microsoft 3D, and, subsequently, had
graced several classrooms with cardstock creations.
Gladys Brown, the student chairperson of the drama club, had noticed
Damiens builds. Suddenly, Damien was being praised not for his one-off
use of a weapon but for his set design and construction. His popularity was
increasing, too, as most of his associates liked theatre more than
additionally, the case of Tobias Adkins. Born Tabatha Adkins, that
youth fussed when anyone used their dead name. Selma had noted that
students passion and had successfully funneled it. She had persuaded them
to launch a poetry writing club. To date, that fellowship boasted over a dozen
members, all of whom brought fresh work to their weekly meetups.
Gerry Meron too, had
changed. At the beginning of the year, she had taunted girls outside of her
clique, who brought lunches, when they had any at all, in plastic bags recycled
from grocery purchases. Contrariwise, Gerrys mom had filled her meal card
with hundreds of dollars, which Gerry usually used to buy bananas and green
salads. She was minding her waist and her account as her parent had promised
that Gerry could pocket any residual monies.
Selma had heard
Gerry boast about both goals. The teacher had been paying for her usual
hamburger, apple, and seltzer. While the cafeteria food remained horrible,
buying it meant that she had more daily minutes to attend to students
mistress of nouns, verbs, and conjunctions, and of Eighteenth and Nineteenth
Century short stories, strode directly to Gerrys table. She pulled out a
chair for herself, prayed for her food, ate, and prayed once more. Throughout,
Gerry and her three gal pals sat bug-eyed.
Patting her mouth
with a napkin, Selma began a soliloquy. In her declamation, she explained how
her single mother had struggled to feed her, how she, herself, had matriculated
through college on a combination of scholarships and work-study jobs, and how
nothing in life, including, and especially, financial security, ought to be
taken for granted or flaunted. Simply, Gerry and her coterie were wrong to mock
students who were less economically endowed than them.
The teenagers looked
at each other. Then, after a moment of silence, they began to giggle. The adult
admonishing them was somewhat unkempt, definitely not trendy, overweight
and a very boring lecturer.
She remained seated
until five minutes before the next periods bell.
At that point, Gerry
offered, not so nice?
nice, agreed Selma. Those youngsters had hair, nails, makeup, and
clothing that were on point, but little else. She was more sad than
kids founded and staffed a food bank for their school. Later, one became a
community organizer, another a nurse, and a third a nun. As for Gerry, she was
known to have become a teaching volunteer in Cambodia.
Selma pulled her
eyes away from the window and reached for the stack of papers. There were
fifteen minutes left in her planning period. She could read at least one of