The hero of A Small-Town Girl is Cary Hudson. Cary’s a high school teacher…Algebra to be exact.
I had a lot of fun imagining his life at Lane’s End High because for ten years, I taught school, too. And, if I’m going to be completely honest, I miss the friendships I made, and the sense of community a faculty has more than I miss being around twelve year olds. Hmm…maybe because I have two teenagers at home?
I seem to run into a lot of writers who are former teachers. I stopped teaching because we got transferred to Ohio and my husband encouraged me to finally give writing a try. Usually, I never think about the days of sweaty classrooms or ‘morning work’. But every now and then, a memory surfaces, and I have to smile.
Yesterday was one of those days. My son was talking about taking drivers ed in a trailer and how thin the walls were—a Jazzersize class was going on next door.
For two years, I taught in a mountain school in Colorado, in a trailer. We’d just been transferred to the Denver area from Dallas, and I was extremely lucky to get a job. But what a change that school was! No longer was I teaching executives’ kids in suburban Dallas…now I was teaching rancher’s kids, country kids…kids who did chores at six in the morning before coming to school. I learned a lot about life from them, and I’m sure they got a laugh out of me…the city girl from Texas who wore heels and didn’t know a thing about snowstorms, cattle ranches…or bears.
Yep, one day, there I was, teaching spelling, when I noticed not a one of them was paying a bit of attention to me. They were all looking out the window. Next, I got a message on the intercom, telling me not to let any kids out of the trailer—there was a bear on the playground.
I ran to the window, and finally noticed what my twenty-five kids had already seen—a big black bear, just twenty feet away, wandering around.
I had never read anything about bears in the teaching manuals. Doing my best, I swallowed my fear and told everyone to REMAIN CALM.
And that’s when it hit me…they knew that bear. He’d been in a couple of the kids’ trashcans just the week before. He visited the school a few times a year. I was the only one freaking out. Those fifth graders started laughing at me. Finally, I started laughing, too. Spelling went away and we spent the next hour sitting on desks and watching the bear. The kids told me stories about his antics and I learned to appreciate being in a mountain school.
Any other teachers or former teachers who remember little stories like that? When the lesson plans go out the window and life takes over? Here’s to all of us having little experiences that are new and different and perfectly memorable.