By: Adam Sutton
“On three give me one big clap: 1….2….3!” A loud “SMACK” is followed by silence as Mr. Spriggs peers out over his students. “As we discussed yesterday, you are all sitting in seats of your choice. However, it does not have to stay that way. Also, don’t think that because your parents are sitting in the back of the room that I am less likely to reassign seats today.” Mr. Spriggs pauses for a moment to look directly and jut his finger out, pointing, at each member of the class before smiling at all the parents in the back row. “With that, I want to thank all of the parents who are joining us today for American Education Week. It’s great to have you. You have wonderful children. This is the only class currently choosing their seats.”
Quickly on the heels of the compliment, Mr. Spriggs loudly blurts out, “BUT!” followed by a dramatic pause as he digs into his pocket, looking for something. With a lot of face distortion, some giggles from the class and parents, Mr. Spriggs suddenly withdraws his hand from his pocket with a grand flourish. In his hand is a small crinkled piece of paper. “I just finished saying how great this class is, BUT,” he emphasizes again, “after class yesterday I found THIS!” he says as he waves the crinkled paper in the air.
“Apparently, someone in here is not as focused on their studies as they should be! Let me share what I found.” Clearing his throat, Mr. Spriggs reads from the paper, “Hey Babe.” He drops the paper to his side, bugs his eyes out, bends at the waist and stares about the room in mock surprise. “Hey Babe!” he announces again, rolling his eyes. “I just want to let you know how awesome it is being together.” There is a hushed bit of murmuring and speculation in the room. Several students have red faces. “You just get me. We click. It’s like you know what I’m thinking. It’s great.”
Interrupting himself, Mr. Spriggs speaks to the parents in the back of the room, “To all the parents, I do want to make clear that I teach your students History, not Dating 101.”
Class is silent. If anyone has more nerves than Mr. Spriggs, he doesn’t let on as he reads, “But, lately, you’ve been picking on me. You make fun of my lunch. Know this: I make my own lunch! Every day! Not everyone has a mom who does everything for them…like you! Also, I work really hard on my homework. You don’t. But, every morning you want to copy mine. You take advantage of me. So, even if what we had was cool, we’re done. I’m breaking up with you!” Mr. Spriggs stands silently, looking at the wrinkled paper in his hand, finger over his lips. The class is quiet. The parents are looking at their hands. Everyone is avoiding eye contact.
After what seems like weeks, Mr. Spriggs gleefully asks, “Wanna know who wrote it!?”
The class is divided. Several are adamant and vocal, “Tell us! Tell us!”
Several are undecided. They know how embarrassing it will be for one of their classmates, but they really want to know. Their heads bounce up and down and back and forth. It’s something between nodding yes and shaking no.
Others scream, “NO!!!”
“Don’t do it.”
The parents are looking around shaking their heads. Clearly, this was not what they bargained for.
Mr. Spriggs raises his hands high into the air. With all the theatrical embellishment he can muster, he sends his hands swooping downward as he roars, “SILENCE!” He looks about the room, stands up like a proper Englishman, and decides, “I will tell you now who wrote this,” he smiles widely and tightly with a little shake of his head as if he is giddy over the decision. He looks down at the paper. He looks up at the class. Back at the paper. Up at the class. “The 13 colonies!” he announces to a symphony of hoots and hollers. The parents shrink into their chairs relieved.
“Good afternoon Mrs. Nichols! What brings you to school in the middle of the day?” Mrs. Vortiz, the office secretary asks.
“I have an appointment with Mr. Spriggs. I wanted to talk with him about Joey. I’m a little late. I apologize,” Mrs. Nichols explains.
“Gosh, Joey is in 8th grade already!” Mrs. Vortiz exclaims.
“Yes, he’s my last middle schooler,” Mrs. Nichols is as delighted as Mrs. Vortiz is surprised. “He’s so lucky to have Mr. Spriggs. I’m lucky too! Have you ever been in his classroom? Or, did your kids have him?”
“My kids were gone by the time Mr. Spriggs came here, and I haven’t been in his class. You’d think after 8 years working down the hall from him I’d have at least chanced into his class while he was teaching.” The ladies share a little laugh.
“Well, your kids missed out I hate to say. He is dynamic in the classroom. He has so much energy! He’s creative and engaging and smart. He clearly loves his job!” Mrs. Nichols gushes.
“Have a good afternoon everyone!” Mr. Spriggs blurts out as he passes through the main office on his way out the door.
“Mr. Spriggs, you met with Mrs. Nichols today?” Mrs. Vortiz inquires.
“She said some very nice things about you in the office when she came in. She said you are a really charismatic and challenging teacher. She thought my kids were unlucky not to have had you. She said it was clear you loved your job.”
“Well,” Mr. Spriggs contemplates, “after a long day, those are kind words to hear. Thanks for telling me that.”
As he turns for the door, all that echoes through his head is: “I hate this job.”