Tag Archives: middle school

I Don’t Eat Doughnuts Anymore

13 Jun

It was one of the worst feelings of my junior high school existence … and for what? A doughnut. A round pastry with a hole in it.

As I was looking for photos for the weekly photo challenge, I came across some old school junior high school pictures. I remembered some good times. But then I came across the yearbook with a picture of the principal and his message to the class. I shook my head and laughed. I remembered the disastrous encounter with Mr. Wexler.

Ferris Bueller would be so disappointed.

I was pretty much a follow the rules kind of student. I was nerd. I was a jock. But come six period I was ready to leave that earth science class and head to the gym for some hoops. But prior to going to the gym, we’d always stop by the doughnut shop across the street.

They had a tasty selection.

They had a tasty selection.

In addition to doughnuts and bagels, they also sold stuff like pina coladas and nachos. It had the Frogger and Pac Man video games in the back, and everyone knew the Korean owners. They were cool. They spoke Spanish, which at the time tripped me out. I had never known any non-Latino people who spoke Spanish.

The thing was … it was always crowded right after school. Packed. So a friend of mine came up with The Plan. In retrospect the plan sucked, but at the time — in my junior high school mind — it seemed logical.

“Let’s just sneak out. We belong to clubs. You’re a nerd. No one would believe that you would sneak out. We’ll get to the donut place before anyone else, get our stuff, and be back in time for practice.”

“How are we supposed to sneak out?”

She showed me her orchestra pass. It allowed us to leave from certain classes 15 minutes before the bell rang. Rehearsals. We were always rehearsing for some concert. And lucky for us, this included sixth period.

So it happened. But apparently having me as a wingman wasn’t enough. She told a couple of other people and all of us met by the lockers. Getting out of the classroom was easy. Making it to the doughnut shop … not so much. As we walked down the second floor, a couple of the girls decided to drop off some books at the library, which was on the same floor.

I decided to keep walking. They were taking too long. When I made it to the end of the hall, I heard voices. I looked over the edge … it was the principal he was walking up the stairs.

For some reason, I freaked out. I could have just walked down the steps and he probably wouldn’t have noticed me. He probably would’ve gone about his business. But instead, I went by the leave-no-man-behind rule. I ran down the hallway and tried to get into the library, but the girls were already coming out.

It’s Mr. Wexler!

We tried the bathroom. Locked.  Three of the girls bolted down to the other end of the hallway. Didn’t even look back. It was just me and two other girls. We walked quickly to the library in an effort to seem interested in research and checking out books.

But the Nazi hall pass monitor told us we didn’t have the right kind of pass. We would have to go back to class. As we tried to convince her to let us in, Mr. Wexler enters the room.

“Is there problem, here?”

I sat there in the guidance counselor’s office fearing that phone call she would make to my parents’ house. I sat there rethinking the steps I could have taken to avoid the situation. Judy Blume could not help out of this situation.

No one was home. So I got sent home with a note to be signed by my parents. Apparently, if I got it signed and came clean with them, there would be no need for a parent meeting. She said she would call again and let them know I was bringing a note home.

I wasn’t aware that counselors lied. This chick had cases upon cases of juvenile delinquents that had records of violence, gangs, defiant behavior, and all sorts of surprises.

I wasn’t aware that after telling my parents about the incident, getting the chancla, and getting the signature on that note that the counselor would just toss my paper in the trash. No check-in phone call. No making a note in my file. No nothing. Just a crumpled up paper and dumb junior high school kid who got grounded.

I don’t eat doughnuts anymore.

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The You-Need-To-Care Moment

18 Apr

Some jobs make you want to drink. Others make you want to jump off a cliff. This one made me want to do both.

Middle School Substitute Teacher. It’s the worst job I’ve ever had. It was supposed to be one of those transition jobs, but it never ended. I met all kinds on this gig. But most of my time was spent with hostile teenagers who constantly used profanity and avoided classwork and homework at all costs. They mastered the eye-roll and the smacking of the lips, most of the time accompanied with sarcasm.

I often wondered, what’s up with your parents? Do they even care? I got the response when I met Crystal’s mom.

Crystal was a piece of work. I often filled in for this teacher and most of her classes were filled with tough kids here and there. And most of the time I got comments like, how come you never smile? I was pretty much all business when I was in classroom. I wasn’t the I’m-your-friend kind of teacher. I didn’t need 13-year old friends, especially someone of Crystal’s caliber.

Social Studies classroom at Port Charlotte Hig...

Classroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During our reading comprehension part of the class, Crystal made it a point not to comprehend. I used to give kids three chances — three check marks next to their names — three opportunities to correct themselves before handing out detention, campus beautification, dean’s office referrals, or parent communication. They knew it. They were well-informed. Most kids stopped acting up after the first check mark and campus beautification. They hated cleaning up other kids’ trash. But Crystal was different.

As I explained the assignment for the third time, to make sure every one understood, I see Crystal smacking her gum, like a cow chewing grass. What’s up with kids and gum? I wasn’t a fan of gum, neither was her regular teacher. She knew it. The whole class knew it. So I didn’t understand why she was confused about the rule.

After giving me attitude and a sassy remark, she spit it out. Then came the I’m-not-going-to-do-the-stupid-assignment attitude.

After telling her to start the assignment for the fifth time, I switched her seat so that she wouldn’t distract others. She continued her lackluster effort of paying attention and decided to listen to music.

I took her headphones away and said she could have them back when she finished.

“I don’t care, keep them. I have another pair.”

“Don’t use them here, or I’ll take them away and give you campus beautification.”

“I don’t care, give me campus beautification.”

“I don’t understand, if you don’t want to do the work, don’t come to school. If you want to listen to music stay at home. Just don’t come to school then, because I expect you to do the work. If you don’t do the work you’ll get campus beautification. You’re not just going to sit there and absorb electricity.”

“I don’t care.”

“Oh. You don’t care, do you? That’s one check.”

“I don’t care.”

“Fine you have campus beautification for two days.”

“So what. It’s not like I’m gonna do it.”

“If you don’t do your punishment, you’ll get after-school detention two days.”

“I don’t care.”

“I don’t like your attitude, or your disrespect. That’s two checks for you. If you choose not to do your work or your punishments, there will be consequences.”

“I don’t care. I don’t care about your !#*&@^! consequences or your stupid check marks.”

The class is silent. Waiting on me and my reaction. I was so irritated by this kid. I was done.

“You know what, I’m not even gonna bother sending you to the Dean’s Office. I’m just gonna call your parents myself.”

“I don’t care go ahead.”

Calling parents usually got some kids to shut up and do their work. Some parents actually did some parenting and consequences were involved. Others, well … they needed some assistance. Some sort of intervention miracle.

I don’t know what kind of parents Crystal had, but I was hoping to find out. I wondered if they tolerated Crystal’s eye-roll, the flicking of her fingernails with the other fingernail, and the smacking of the lips, followed by the ever so famous teenager exasperated sigh.

After another thirty minutes of her attitude the bell rang. She collected her books and waited. Most kids tend to bolt as soon as the bell rings, so I often made it a point to hang on to their backpacks until I make the phone call.

I dial the number on file. Disconnected. I dial the emergency contact. The number is no longer in service. She smiles.

I pick up her backpack and have her follow me to the attendance office. There has to be someone, some adult, some relative that can scare her straight. She’s strutting down the hall without a care in the world. All I can think of  was I’m never going to reach anybody related to her, and it’s too early to be pissed off because of some bratty kid. But there I was, frustrated and irritated by a disrespectful sixth grader. Yeah she was in the sixth grade.

As I walk into the attendance office with miserable hopes of getting anything resolved, I run into her mother.

Duuuuuuuuuuuude. Sweet.

I smile and look at the mom.

“I was just on my way here to get your number. Apparently Crystal does not know how to reach you. So we had to make a trip over to the attendance office.”

“I was just here to pick her up early.”

“Well, I’m glad I caught you then. I wanted to speak with you about Crystal’s disrespectful attitude and defiance …”

I explained the events as they occurred and mentioned my three-checks system and the opportunities I gave Crystal to correct her behavior. I looked at the mom:

“All she kept saying was that she didn’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. When I told her I was going to call you, she said I don’t care.”

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, the mother raised her hand and … SLAP!!!

“YOU NEED TO CARE!”

All I saw was Crystal’s hair flying wildly to the left as her head turned.

The entire attendance office staff was silent. The students sitting in the waiting area froze. The parents picking up their kids mouthed the word “Ooooooh.”

 Crystal definitely cared the next day.