A Teacher Heads To Orchard Beach
By D.F. Wharton
I was standing at the bus stop outside Pelham Park station on the 6 train, the last stop on that line, and there was all kinds of people in beach-going finery and with beach going paraphernalia. People were heading to Orchard Beach, I figured. I should’ve been a detective. I didn’t have any travel plan or even an idea of what I was going to do next or where I was going to go. I had gotten on the 6 train because it was there and I was just on the move because I was jobless, unemployed, and still confused about what happened and how I came to lose my job, and I had rode the 6 all the way to the final stop and gotten off the train and walked out to the area where all the busses were letting people off and picking them up.
The month of July used to be my vacation because I was a teacher, but this July I was not on vacation and there were no pay checks getting directly deposited in my checking account any longer. I didn’t know what to think about it. I had been terminated, fired, not too long ago. I was a high school special education teacher for 15 years in the Bronx and everything was going as jobs go until I got this slick fancy-pants principal who never taught a day in my shoes in his life. This buffoon and so-called principal started rating me, my teaching, ineffective with random observations. He would keep sneaking up on me and my students thinking he was slick and we thought it was funny and my students would always give him a hard time about his power suit and his big chin how he would look at us down his nose. This nut job would go on and on to me about my classroom rules and procedures and posters and anchor charts and rigor and differentiation and champion teaching techniques and on and on and on he would go, but one thing he would never do is actually come in and teach the class. He knew better than to do something that foolish because my student would tear him apart. That was another reason that he could not stand me: because I never disciplined my students when they would call him names and mess with him when he would try to sneak into the class to observe me. But I had a ruff bunch of students and they could give me a hard time all the same and I had to spend more time with them than with Mr. fancy-pants principal so I was on their side.
Anyways, I got sick of this schmuck and one day I told him he could take those ineffective observations and shove them right up his dung hole and told him that he was crazy if he thought that I was about to stress and fret and get into contention with my students all for the sake of his fancy and bogus expectations. I was fired up and told my student about it and they were, like I said, a ruff bunch and wanted to kick his ass. But I said no way and that I was a man and I handled my own problems and if anybody was gonna kick Mr. fancy-pants principals ass it was gonna be me, and nothing would give me so much pleasure as to knock that jerks teeth in.
Well, my students were, like I said, a ruff bunch and they liked to cuss and fight and that kinda thing. Those are the kinda kids that educators love to put in special education because they are hard to get along with and like to fight back and rebel all the time and don’t like anybody telling them what to do. Same old story. I had been doing the job for 15 years, so I knew what I could and couldn’t do with my students. We had good rapport and respected each other when Mr. fancy-pants principal came into town and fronted like the students weren’t getting a full academic scholarship to an ivy league school because my expectations were too low and I didn’t have enough rigor in the assignments I gave them or I wasn’t teaching according to the pacing calendar. So I was telling them about me telling fancy-pants where he could shove those observations and boy were they getting fired up. Then I got even more fired up and was carrying on about how ain’t nobody gonna push us around and this is our class and to hell with all the haters and biters and we’ll show them. My students were saying fuck him and don’t take no shit from him and encouraging me to not take nothin’ from that punk and I’m saying yea that’s right and I’m getting all pumped up and saying right on and I ain’t takin’ no jive from that candy ass punk. Well things got lively to say the least and the emotion and motivation in the classroom had become contagious and we had become like a kinda war party preparing for battle, banging on desks and carry’n on.
What happened next is something I will never truly understand because it was like all the stars in the universe lined up for it to happen and I wasn’t even there and it had to happen for reasons unknown to me or even any of my students. Just as the kids were rah-rahing me and I’m rah-rahing back, Mr. fancy-pants principal walks into the room with his power suit and clipboard and looked aghast as we were banging on desks and hooting and hollering. What is the meaning of this! says fancy-pants, and one of my student says, Get the hell out of our class! Fancy-pants looks at me in shock and I say, That’s right, get the hell out, and my students let out roars and growls and beat on the desks and started throwing papers and other miscellaneous items at fancy-pants. Fancy-pants’s bewilderment turned into rage and he had the audacity to walk up to me and put his finger in my face and start yelling something. But I was gone, caught up in the moment, and I had clocked him with a hard right before I realized exactly what I was doing. But there he was, nose and lips bleeding and busted, laid out on the floor knocked out cold. Then there was dead silence for a second that seemed like an eternity but was just a second, and then we all looked at each other with shock all over our faces. And then, as if on cue, all at once we let out something that had to be similar to a war cry and were banging on desks and doing something that must have been like a rain dance around the knocked out body on the floor.
We calmed down and got ourselves together. Some of my students wanted to take the rap for me and say that they did it but I was like, No way, what kinda man do you think I am? So we drug his still limp body out into the hallway and shut the door and hoped that maybe he would come to and not remember what happened. Thinking back on it I guess I was lucky we didn’t cut up his body and send out the parts to the other schools where fancy-pants principals were harassing teachers, as a warning for them to see what could happen to them if they didn’t back off.
The principals bloody face and KO’d body out in the hallway was quite a spectacle. Fancy-pants came to and remembered everything and soon the police were at my classroom door and arrested me right there in my class as my students looked on and clapped and told the police that I was the only real teacher in the school.
And that’s how I got fired. There are some things that not even tenure can help with and my situation was one of those types of situations. I still don’t know what I am going to do with myself, for a job anyhow, but for today I think I might check out Orchard Beach.