Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ready or Not

It’s D-Day tomorrow. Sixteen, excited, freshly scrubbed, and slightly intimidated little five-year-old bodies will appear at the “Purple Cat” door at my school’s kindergarten hallway. I’m not supposed to be the one greeting them but late last week my principal changed my life.
“Sylvia, I need your help. We have to add an additional kindergarten classroom and it has to be ready for the “meet and greet” Friday morning at 10:a.m. I don’t have a teacher yet, so you’ll need to substitute for a week or so until I get the go-ahead to hire someone.”
My stomach lurched as a million thoughts ran through my head; but these little babes have never been to school. Visions of desperate, crying-no, screaming, bodies clinging onto their mama’s arms and legs sent my imagination into over-drive. For a moment I pondered, "Is the use of duct tape considered inhumane treatment?"
One glance at the desperation written all over my principal’s face and my heart softened.
“Sure,” I smiled. “ No problem. I’ll get right on it.”
A cursory glance at the room, vacant, except for the quarter inch of dust over all counters, tables and chairs, a rolled up dirty carpet and several dead roaches, who did not survive the summer, was enough to send me to the janitor’s room in search of cleaning supplies. With sweat dripping from every pore on my body, I scrubbed, scoured and swept until I was certain the room could pass any standards the Health Department decreed.
After lugging more tables and chairs from a portable several hundred yards to my room, every muscle in my body felt as though I was qualifying for the next Olympics. But this was just the beginning. As any kindergarten teacher knows, bulletin boards must be covered in eye-catching colors and if you happen to be anything other than seven feet tall, heaven help you. For safety sake, the rule is: No standing on chairs or tables. Hunt down the one ladder that always disappears just when you need it.
Finally, with the last alphabet letter glued to the wall, and a copy of ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear’ propped up against the rocker ready to be read to my pupils, I sighed a breath of relief. I’m ready. Who knows-maybe I won’t need that duct tape after all.


  1. Sounds like they are putting teachers through the wringer. You have to clean and set up your room? Don't they have janitors for that work? My wife is a teacher too and she's said this year they pilled thirty-six students in her classes, which normally have fifteen to twenty. She works three hours at home for each hour she spends in the classroom, which means she makes about $3.50 to $4.00 an hours. But, Like you she sounded happy when she told me. Teachers are a whole other class of people.

  2. Good luck with getting back to school. I get your updates on my blog so you don't need to email me separately. See you soon!