"No, I'm sorry," I replied, "but my calendar is full." After hanging up, my guilt gene kicked in for a few moments.
The morning was still dark outside and the house was chilly. My husband was eating breakfast and the dog was faithfully begging and drooling by his side, waiting on a tasty morsel to drop. Before I had a chance to settle into the still warm sheets of bed, my brain buzzed with a flashback to my first substitute teaching job at Nichols Elementary in Miami, Oklahoma.
A picture would have read circa December 1967, showing a bright eyed nineteen year old college student dressing for her first teaching job. I was home from LSU on semester break and had plunged into the adult world immediately by filling out forms to be a substitute teacher. I don't remember much about that day other than the fear in my eyes when I meet those fourth graders, and the pounding in my heart when I saw the teacher's lesson plans. With the schedule seemingly changing every 20 or 40 minutes, I never really caught up with that first day. Recess was a great relief to me, and the end of the day bell convinced me that I had chosen the right path, teaching high school English or History would be a breeze compared to elementary.
Spring Break 1968 I remained dedicated to making money by substituting at Miami High School, where I knew my way around, having just graduated from that stately red brick building in 1965. I proudly accepted the job to sub for Mr. Lingo in French class, especially since I had taken two years of French from him and had continued on in college with French classes. The morning was glorious: my little sister Jonya, a sophomore, came by the room to see me; I drank a coke and set it on the desk as I had seen Mrs. Enderland and Mrs. Thompson do when they substituted; other teachers recognized me and asked if I needed help. "No thank you, but I'm doing just fine," I replied. I spent time in the library at noon with Mrs. Watson chatting about books we had both been reading. The Confessions of Nat Turner was my favorite read that year.
|The calming spirit of Miami High.|
I don't remember what the course of action might have been that day. My guess is that Mr. Kelton calmly walked over to E.C's and invited the boys back into the building. I survived. I never finished that degree to be a high school teacher, but I did stay in education, and am most grateful to every child who entered my life. Forty-five years have passed since that first phone call. Today, and perhaps for years to follow, rather than substitute I have chosen to write, to exercise, to read, to relax and let someone else take charge.