John and the Teacher without a Clue

John and the Teacher without a Clue.

alternate title: John and the Bigot


Let me start by stating that I didn’t use the alternate title since it could describe many of my acquaintances.The part of NJ where I grew up sits smack on the Mason-Dixon line (look it up, if you have any doubts) and is 1/2 southern and 1/2 northern in its outlook on things. You need to also bear in mind that prejudice and bigotry are really not limited regionally. Since 1980, we’ve lived in North Carolina and Texas, and find that the people we know are really not much different than the people we grew up with. Anyway, since the story is really about a teacher I once knew, the main title is probably better.

I was in my first year of teaching, 1966-67, and had discovered a couple of things about myself I really didn’t know before. I really liked kids for the most part; I was able to achieve rapport with 90% of them effortlessly; and I was able to impart both information and the desire to learn intuitively. These  discoveries really were a surprise, but I was having great success with my seventh grade self-contained {I taught them all disciplines - Math, Science, English, etc.} class that had contained up to 38 students during that year and probably averaged 34-35 through out the year and it certainly couldn’t be attributed to great preparation for the job. After all, I had been a Liberal Arts major in History and sad to say, did not take my studies very seriously until the last year and 1/2 of college. I had been more interested in my Frat house, beer, and girls than in other more lasting pursuits.

I guess I need to get back to the story. Next door to my class was one of the eighth grade class rooms (the other was across the hall - only one 7th grade homeroom that year, but two eighth grade HRs). The guy teaching that class was also in his first year at Quinton, but had been a teacher for many years and his wife was one of the two 3rd grade teachers. He did not appear to have a very good grip on how to do his job and I really didn’t rely on him for any mentoring {as you’ll see farther on in this story, it was probably just as well}. Hazel Fowser, the other 8th grade teacher was a model to be followed, she mixed sternness with true affection for her classes, so that she was never called Mrs. Fowser, but was Aunt Hazel to one and all.

One day, while standing at the water fountain getting a drink, the other eighth grade teacher approached and in a stage whisper asked me; “How come, you get along with all the little ‘N.....s‘ in this school?” I guess I forgot to mention that the school was racially about 70-30 white to black, though that hardly should matter, but it appears that it did. Continuing, I countered; “Well they know that I’m not a bigot!” This was both a statement of fact as well as a bit of sarcasm {both of which were lost on him}. His reply proved to me that he really did not understand human beings and especially not young ones. He declared, “Puh, they can’t tell!”

Fortunately, the district let him go at the Christmas holiday and the replacement was a young guy who the kids thought was super.

Davdan @ 2008-2018