I’m your new substitute teacher

Aug. 22, 2013 @ 05:33 AM

Good morning, and welcome back to school, folks! No, I’m obviously not Mr. Beaverhausen. My name is Ms. Wentz, and I’m substituting for Mr. Beaverhausen for a bit, as he and his wife move here from Boston and get acclimated to our please-just-shoot-me heat and this summer’s entertaining monsoons. No, I have no idea what he looks like, darlin’, but it can’t be any worse than I look today, having worked for a week now in this room with the air-conditioning permanently set at 83 degrees, trying to put books away, organize desks, mop the floor, and pin lovely borders around the blackboard ... sorry, I mean whiteboard, I forgot I was ancient.

Anyway, Freshman English should be fun, since we’re all new and have no idea where anything is, and we can discover it all together. I’m so excited to be here! It’s nice to be able to stay for a while, mostly because you get to know a group of kids, and they get to know you, and you feel almost like they’re yours. 
No, David ... I mean Jonathan ... you can’t really move in with me, even if your parents are “complete morons” (and trust me, as you get older, they will, astonishingly, get smarter). What I meant to say was that you feel almost like these kids are yours in an academic sense rather than a Be-home-by-11-or-die! sense. Been there, done that, not doing it again.
Anyway, even if we only have a few weeks together, my goal is to learn all your names ... and where the copier is, because I’ve got like a zillion things to send home with you, but how do I do that if I can’t find the !$#*@ copier, even when I’ve quietly followed another teacher who definitely had things to copy, but wandered into the art room to put her lunch in the fridge and wound up staying to kvetch with the art teacher about all the stuff they had to copy! Not that I was listening at the door or anything.
OK, back to you. So, I’m sure I’ll find that copier this afternoon and I’ll have all the stuff ready for you to take home tomorrow, although I realize that 98 percent of you will lose, destroy or discard these pieces of paper, and your parents stand little-to-no chance of ever seeing them, but as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Look it up, Peter ... I mean Rashad.
Meanwhile, Mr. B has emailed me a list of supplies he would like each of you to have this year. First, he would like you to bring one three-subject notebook that will -- yes, Jordan? I mean Michael? No, I don’t think it matters if you already bought a five-subject notebook, perhaps you’ll need the extra space, or maybe you could use it for two more subjects.
Wait a minute, I’m wrong, you can’t use it for other classes, because he says this notebook is to be left here in the classroom each day, so -- I don’t know, Janice ... I mean Lola ... I’m not clear on what they will be used for, maybe journals, or extra notepaper, or something. 
No, David ... I mean Jonathan ... three one-subject notebooks is not the same thing, especially if they have to be left in the classroom, because as you can see, I have used every inch of space in here already, including the windowsills, with tables, chairs, computer desks, file cabinets, shelves, in-and-out baskets, and a tiny reading corner. So, I’m not sure where Mr. B plans to keep the notebooks, but if it’s on that one empty shelf, then if several of you brought three 1-subject notebooks, it will quickly fill up ... but hey, do what you want, I’m just here a few weeks ... thank you, Lord. 
Now it appears that the first book you’ll read this year is “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee, and you are going to LOVE it. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. Yes, Amelia ... I mean Brooke ... it’s old -- it was published in 1960, and takes place in 1936 -- but it’s also timeless, if you know what I mean. Yes, Patrick? I mean Adrian? No, it has nothing to do with actually killing a mockingbird, or any bird at all, although there is a dog in there that doesn’t come out all that well, but anyway, where was I?
Oh, yes, we’re supposed to go and check out our books from the English storage room tomorrow, but I still don’t know exactly where that is or exactly how to do it on the new computer system, but after I find the copier I’ll hunt down that book room, and--
Yes, I heard the bell, David ... I MEAN JONATHAN! Uh (ahem) ... welcome to English!

Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker.  Readers may contact her at chh@heraldsun.com, or visit her website, www.vickiwentz.com.