Rotten to the apple core

5.5.10


“We heard you were going to leave anyway,” Mr. Wolf said after a meeting one day.

I stared at him.

“From who?”

“Someone.”

“Well, you heard wrong.”

Was this justification for firing me? We heard you were going to leave anyway? Who the hell says this?

***

We started off each music lesson with singing the scales. Then Mrs. Raven and I would practice songs and reading music.

Then there was the day she told me, “You know Lani, you actually have a very sweet singing voice.”

“Really?”

“Yes, you do.”

I was touched to hear such a compliment after years of believing my voice was horrible. And from a music teacher too! One who used to hate me! Well, we didn't get along very well and now look at us!

“And another thing,” She dabbed her eyes with tissue. Mrs. Raven was easily moved to tears. “I was wrong about you. When we first met I thought you were arrogant – unwilling to learn. I was hurt when you told me you no longer wanted me as a mentor.”

“I know. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”

“I know that now. But I feel like since I’ve been watching you and spending time with you I’ve learned what an incredibly strong capable woman you are.”

Smiling I said, “I try. I really try.”

“You’re not a bad teacher. You’re just at a bad school.”

It was my turn to get teary eyed, “I’m glad we got to know one another better.”

“Me too.”

***

Even though Mrs. Bluejay wanted me to fight the Core Group’s decision, I did nothing. Did I really want to fight to remain inside the insane asylum? I was still trying to come to terms with the fact that I had failed as a Waldorf teacher.

I tried to come up with a nice pedagogical story, a gentle way to let my children know that I would not be their third grade teacher next year. I ended up talking about how a farmer had to leave his animals and how a new farmer would take care of them but I got frustrated with trying to be clever and finished up my saying, “I’m leaving. I won’t be your teacher next year.”

“Why?” They were alarmed.

“Don’t go.”

“Why are you going?”

"Why does the farmer have to leave?"

“Are you mad at us?”

Confused, my acorns asked me a lot of questions, none of which I was prepared to answer. I think I said something like, “It’s time for me to go. I have to go.”

After I had formally told my class, the parents became openly divided. The Core Group held a meeting to discuss the parents’ concerns and questions. I sat there tense and death-like quiet. My class parents stared at me as the administrator announced that I was leaving, that it was a mutual agreement, and that the Core Group had begun interviewing new teachers. Nobody bought it. It was never said but it was understood, Miss Cox was fired.

Once the meeting was over one of my class parents made a beeline for me. #4’s mom said, “Were you fired?”

“I can’t say.” Why was I protecting them?

“Then I’ll say it. The Core Group isn’t fooling anyone.”

She continued. “We’ll fight this decision.”

I stared at one of my biggest cheerleaders, one of my level-headed parents (they are out there) and smiled.

For a brief moment I allowed myself to believe.

She looked at me, “I don’t think you realize how much support you have. I’m furious that they made this decision. In fact, I’m pissed off.”

My eyebrows rose.

“#4 loves you. And I am so sick of these stupid parents crying and whining over every little thing. I know exactly who they are too. I’m prepared for it to get ugly.”

“Do what you think is best,” I was grateful for her enthusiasm but I was too exhausted from the ordeal. I knew what it was like to battle with these people and I had lost almost every time.

Letters from a few of my children saying, “We don’t want Miss Cox to leave” ended up in the faculty’s mailboxes.

“Did you have anything to do with this?” Mrs. Bluejay asked waving the crayon colored letter in front of me.

“No.”

“This is bad,” She said it more to herself than to me.

***

Some of the parents wrote letters on my behalf too. They addressed the Core Group and gave me copies. I kept them for the longest time. I wanted to remember their kind words. I wanted to remember the good things not just the bad things said about me. But one day I threw them away. I decided I wanted to be finish with holding on to the past.

Yet out of all the letters, the one I remember most fondly said, “Miss Cox is like a breath of fresh air. . .” This came from one of my quiet dads so it was surprising to read and I cherished it. I knew that some liked the fact that I wasn’t the typical Waldorf teacher. In fact, #3’s mom told me this all the time which is so strange considering what I later learned.

So while there were my supporters, there were the parents who had helped the Core Group make their final decision and pull those sitting on the fence over to their side.

One of the moms actually admitted, “I heard the talk and I began to think maybe there’s some truth to all this.”

The Core Group responded to the parents and children’s letters by holding another meeting. This time addressing what Mrs. Four wanted to know, “What was so damaging from Old Woman’s assessment?” There would be no holding back this time. I wasn’t going to be there and they needed to quell the rebellion. I stayed out of this struggle as much as possible. I was flattered by the parents support but I also tried to remain neutral.

I wanted to see what would happen without me interfering.

The following day I could tell by looking at my parents that the Core Group had done some damage. I pulled Mrs. Four aside, “Stop fighting for me.”

“Are you sure?”

Yes, I was sure.

You Might Also Like

9 comments