Mr. Hardball called the 7:30 Eula High School Monday Morning Faculty Meeting to order.
“Let’s get started here gang. We’ve got a lot to cover and we want to leave a couple of minutes at the end for your concerns. Our big issue this week is the can-throwing problem, but I have several items that we need to discuss before we get to that important topic.
“We’ve had a bit of vandalism in the restrooms and I want you to limit student passes to the restroom during class. If a kid looks like his teeth are floating, a two minute pass can be given. Some of these kids have a problem holding their stuff and seem to end up wandering the halls on the way to the restroom almost every hour. If Robbie Imacat asks for a pass, give him one to the office. I’ll go with him to the john and watch him pee. If he really has a problem, I’ll call in his parents and have them get him medical help. I think there is some kind of drug he can take to help him control his bladder.
“I really think he might be a part of the can problem. He’s in the hallway enough so he could easily carry a can inside his shirt and when nobody is looking, send it clattering down the hallway or the stairwell. Fewer restroom passes mean less opportunity for these kids to disrupt your class’s concentration on academics.
“Another problem we have in this building is the lack of attendance at High School Faculty Meetings. If you will look around and notice the empty seats you’ll see that many of your colleagues are blowing off these meetings. That has to change. I expect you all to be dedicated professionals. That means you need to come to the professional meetings and to be on time.”
Mr. Riker, the mathematics teacher raised his hand and said, “Excuse me Mr. Hardball, but we are all here and every one of us came on time. Is it necessary for you to reprimand us for the problems our colleagues might have in joining us for our weekly discussion of our insufficiencies as teachers? Perhaps that might be a reason for their lack of attendance.”
“I don’t appreciate your impertinence, Mr. Riker. If I share with you my problems with tardiness and attendance at these meetings, then you might be able to stress to your fellow professional colleagues the importance of them being here.”
The door opened and Miss Angelina Frenchy promenaded into the home economics classroom where the meeting was being held. She was wearing a short red skirt that left a good portion of her long, lovely legs showing for the benefit of the men in the room. Her blouse was a fluffy white with red hearts in random spots. It was cut low so that most of the tops of her perfect breasts added to the treat for the faculty men. Miss Frenchy was a hit with the high school boys as well. Male enrollment in her Spanish Class was always high.
“Oh, hi everybody,” she said. “Sorry I’m late. My car wouldn’t start and I had to get my neighbor to jump it. Have y’all had a discussion of the clattering can problem yet? I declare that noise has been real distracting to my classes. Is there any way you can help with that problem, Mr. Hardball. Like maybe you could be out in the hall patrolling during class times so that you can catch the little buggers in the act. If you’d expel a few of the perpetrators for a week, that might be a real good example to the rest and then I think the problem might stop. What do y’all think?”
“If you would have been here on time, Miss Frenchy, then you’d know that the clattering can problem is on the agenda for later in the meeting. We were talking about improving the attendance at these faculty meetings when you barged in late.”
“Well, I think that if we talked about more important things like the necking in the end of the hall then we’d get a better attendance.”
“You were late, Miss Frenchy.”
“I already told you that my car wouldn’t start and that kept me from being on time, Mr. Hardball. I can’t help it that my car wouldn’t start. It’s not like I make a habit of being late, sir. I honor the importance of being on time to a well-running organization. El ser el tiempo es importante para dios.”
“Don’t start with that foreign language crap, Miss Frenchy. We speak English in this school, young woman. Unless you are in your Spanish class, you can keep them foreign words to yourself.” He scanned the room of teachers. “Let’s get on with this meeting. Enough distractions.
“We’ve had some problems with behavior at Eula High School basketball games. I know that your teacher contracts do not required to be at the games, but if faculty were present, you could help keep student behavior under control.
“We’ve also had problems with rowdy parents using profanity as they yell at student athletes — often their own children. You as high school faculty can make a difference. Get to those games and stop the inappropriate behavior.”
Mr. Riker had his hand in the air. “Excuse me, sir, but you’re right about our teaching contracts not requiring our presence at athletic contests. And if an adult has a problem, then perhaps you should call in the police to handle the situation. Some of us try to get to games to support our students, but many of our faculty never see a game and that is entirely acceptable under our teaching contracts.”
“Mr. Riker, if I wanted your thoughts on this subject I would have asked you to give them. Now we need to get on to more important topics.
“It’s time to talk about the can problem. I want all of you to spend more time in the hallways. Between classes, I want you to station yourself outside your classroom door. During your prep period and while your students are studying independently, I want each of you to station yourself outside your open classroom door. This applies especially to you, Mr. Riker. You are expected to teach for more than half the period and give the students at least a ten minute work period. This is time you need to be guarding the hall. We have to give them a show of force to let these rascals know who is in charge. I’m going to make an announcement over the intercom that will warn the perpetrators that severe detentions will be given to any student caught throwing a can.”
Mrs. Teachall had her hand in the air.
Mr. Hardball continued to talk about added pressure from the staff on the students to the affect of conquering the problem of the clattering cans. Finally, he paused, took a breath, and called on Mrs. Teachall.
“What do you want, Mrs. Teachall? Hurry up with it. It’s almost time for you all to be on hall duty.”
“I’ll keep it short, Mr. Hardball. I don’t understand how you can expect your teachers to do hall duty during class. Most good teachers use quiet study time to work the classroom and answer individual questions. Shy students have told me how great it is when Mr. Riker approaches them individually and they get a chance to ask questions without looking dumb. I think it is very bad educational practice to have staff doing hall duty during class.”
“We are out of time for discussion of this issue, folks. It’s time to get to class and turn these juvenile delinquents into responsible adults. This week I want you in the hall every minute you aren’t teaching.
“And Mrs. Teachall, I’d appreciate it if you would keep faculty questions to a minimum during staff meetings. We generally have enough time for my directions only. That’s especially true for you, Mr. Riker. I really want to hear nothing on this issue from you.
“Now on three, ‘Go get ‘em.’ One. Two. Three.”
“GO GET ‘EM!” responded the Eula High School Teaching Staff in unison.
It was mid-afternoon when Mr. Jack Riker sat in his classroom after finishing his sixth period math class. He had spent the last ten minutes of his class standing by his door monitoring the hall. George Randolph, an middle-ability geometry student had come to the door to ask about a proof. Jack glanced at George’s proof.
“You have a good start here, George. Look at angle three and angle four. Do you know anything about them?”
“Are they congruent?”
“They could be, but they might not be. Don’t you have a theorem about interior angles on the same side of a transversal of two parallel lines?”
“Wait a minute. … Are they supplementary?”
“Does that help?”
“I think so. Supplements of congruent angles are congruent. I think I’ve got it, Mr. Ridout. Thanks.”
“Don’t thank me. You figured it out, George. Good job.”
A clatter of noise filled the hallway and Robbie Imacat sprinted past the junction of the two halls and into Riker’s stub of a hall. As Jack stepped out Robbie crashed into the big teacher’s chest with his shoulder.
“Nice block, Robbie.”
“Oh. Excuse me, Mr. Riker. I didn’t see you.”
Jack rubbed his chest as he grabbed the youngster by the arm. The bell rang and the hall filled with a mass of students like a pail under a downspout in a summer shower.
As his class left, he motioned Robbie into the room.
“I can’t right now, Mr. Riker. I’ve got to go to English class.”
“You’ll be alright. I’ll write you a pass.”
“You can’t make me stay. And you shouldn’t have grabbed my arm. My mom’s a lawyer and she’ll sue your ass.”
“I play tennis with your mother, Robbie. If you leave this room right now, two things will happen. First, I’ll put you on the detention list for two hours of detention. That will take you four nights after school. Second, I’ll have a talk with Mr. Hardball about you throwing the can down the stairs. He’s been wanting to make an example of someone. You could easily be that guy. Third, I play tennis with your mom. We are pretty good friends. If you leave here right now she and I will have a little talk and she’ll know what you did and what you said, before you arrive home from school.
“The simple solution is for you and I to sit down and have a little talk. Then we’ll see where this leads. I’ve got a feeling you’ll make football practice tonight and won’t be too late for your English class. Shall we sit down and talk?”
“Ok. We can talk.”
The teacher and the student sat side-by-side in two student desks at the back of Jack Riker’s classroom.
“Now, Robbie. You threw a can down the stairwell. What were your reasons?”
“You didn’t see me.”
“But I saw you running away from the stairwell two seconds after. It seems to me that you pretty well incriminated yourself. Answer my first question. Why did you throw the can down the stairwell?”
Robbie closed his mouth and leaned back in his chair. “I ain’t really got a reason. It just seemed to be a fun thing to do.”
“If I had been teaching a geometry lesson and had the class right at a crucial point, the racket of a pop can falling down the stairwell might have destroyed the concentration of my class. I might be a bit perturbed and somebody in class might miss a point that would help him or her really understand the day’s lesson. I think it is time you began to feel an empathy for other people, young man. Life is always better when you live it thinking about the things you can do to help other people.”
The room was quiet until suddenly the figure of Mr. Hardball filled the doorway.
“Mr. Riker. What are you doing in the classroom during your preparation period? Weren’t you at the faculty meeting this morning when we decided to use our prep periods to patrol the halls to look for can-throwers? We had a can-thrower right at the end of your last class. If you had been on duty in the hallway you might have caught the rascal.”
Again it was quiet for a few seconds. Robbie looked at Jack Riker and thought, I’m dead. He’s going to turn me in to Mr. Hardass. I’ll be expelled from school.
Then Mr. Riker spoke. “I need to help Mr. Imacat a moment on a mathematics problem, sir. Then I’ll get right at it.”
“You do that.”
He turned and stalked from the room.
Robbie and Mr. Riker listened to the footsteps move down the hall. Then they looked at each other and both of them smiled.
“Back to our question, Robbie. What do you think about your behavior now?
“I don’t have to think much about it, Mr. Riker.” He hung his head, looking at the floor. “What I did was stupid. It was stupid because of what it might have done to my classmate’s concentration; it was stupid because of what might have happened to me if you had turned me in to Mr. Hardball. I’ll try to think before I do something dumb. Thank you.”
Mr. Riker scribbled a pass and handed it to Robbie. “This should get you into English class. It would be great if I’d see you work a bit harder at succeeding in school and less at the class clown stuff.
“You got it, sir. I’ll try to think before I do silly stuff. Thanks. Thanks for not turning me in to Mr. Hardass.”
Mr. Riker ignored the insult to Mr. Hardball. I certainly can’t argue with him.