The World’s Oldest Teacher
It was recess and Gordon, Paulo and I were sitting against the school wall with books in our hands. We looked like the best kids in the whole school. In fact, we were the worst kids in the school! We had recently discovered that if we sat quietly under the open window of the principal’s office, we could secretly listen to all of his private conversations and telephone calls. So far we had learned that he was supposed to bring home a loaf of bread and that he had a dentist appointment in two weeks. It turned out that our principal is a very boring man. Just as we were about to give up and play some soccer, we heard a knock on the door and then the very happy voice of our teacher.
“Oh, Mr. Evans. I’m glad I caught you in the office.”
“You sure seem happy today,” he replied suspiciously.
“Oh, I am happy. It’s not every day that I get to give you one of these.”
“What is it,” Mr. Evans asked.
“Just a note from my doctor saying that I am to have a week off work for a little operation,” she said smugly.
“No! No! Not that! Anything but that!” cried Mr. Evans. “You know I’ll never find a supply teacher to cover your class for an entire week! Why don’t you just wait for summer break to have the operation?”
That must have been a private joke between them, because Mrs. H. instantly burst out laughing. “During the summer?” she gasped. “During the summer?! Ha! Ha! Ha! Stop it! You’re killing me!”
As Mrs. Hoagsbrith’s laughter died away, we could hear Mr. Evans muttering to himself. “Oh, dear. What am I going to do? I’ll never find a supply teacher for that class. The last one I got left the country, and the one before took early retirement. If I can’t find someone to cover her class, then I’m going to have to give the kids the week off.”
Gordon, Paulo and I jumped to our feet and raced to tell the other kids in our class the great news! When the bell rang to end recess, our teacher watched in puzzlement as our class formed a conga line and made its way down the hall to our classroom.
For the rest of the day and all weekend, it was all we talked about. Would Mr. Evans be able to find a teacher to cover our class next week or wouldn’t he?
On Monday morning, we arrived at school early and waited anxiously by the parking lot to spot any unfamiliar cars. No one arrived that we didn’t know. When the bell rang, we rushed to our classroom to wait for Mr. Evans to come and send us home for the week. At nine o’clock, the principal appeared at our door and said, “Class, I have great news!”
Immediately everyone began cheering! Confetti filled the air and kids blew party favours.
“Yes,” Mr. Evans continued, holding up his hands for silence. “I searched all weekend and I finally found a supply teacher to take on this class for the entire week!” Looking out the window, he said, “Ah, and here comes your teacher now.”
Disappointed, we turned to the window and saw a small car slowly pull into the parking lot. It slowly backed into a parking space and after a few minutes, the door slowly swung open. Our mouths opened in shock as an old man of about 70 slowly got out of the car and stood bent over, holding on to a cane. We turned back to our principal and Gordon said, “You’ve got to be kidding! That can’t be our teacher!”
“Of course not,” chuckled Mr. Evans. “That man isn’t even a teacher. But his mother is!”
Our heads swung back to the window at once, and we watched as the old man shuffled around to the other side of the car and opened the door. And then it happened. Very, very slowly, he helped an ancient woman out of the car and then took a walker out of the back seat for her. She was 95 years old if she was a day! We stared as she made her way across the parking lot, stopping to rest every now and then.
“Yup,” Mr. Evans smiled. “She’s perfect, isn’t she? I looked for a teacher for a hundred miles in all directions and came up empty handed. I nearly had to send you kids home for the week, but then I stumbled onto this one in an old age home. She’s been retired for 40 years but she says she’s rarin’ to go!”
Rarin’ to go where? I wondered as I watched her take four steps and stop to catch her breath.
When she finally got to the classroom, she shuffled right up to the row of coats at the back of the room and said, “Hello, class. My name is Mrs. Johnson.”
Mr. Evans hurried over to her and spun her around. “Well, now, Mrs. Johnson. It looks like you have things well under control. I’ll be in my office if you need me.” And he quickly scurried out of the room.
Mrs. Johnson made her way to the teacher’s desk, sat down and smiled at us. Then she tilted her head back and fell asleep. For the first time ever, our class didn’t know what to do. We had a 95 year old teacher, and she was snoring away at the front of the room.
“Quiet,” Gordon whispered. “Let the old girl sleep.” For the next hour and a half, we quietly chatted and played computer games. At 10:30, the recess bell rang, waking Mrs. Johnson with a start.
“What on earth was that?” she exclaimed.
“The recess bell,” we told her.
“Oh, recess. I’m going to pass. You all go on without me. Have a great time.” And she fell back asleep.
During recess, we all decided that maybe Mrs. Johnson wasn’t so bad after all. At least she wasn’t working us too hard, and she hadn’t yelled at anyone all morning.
Coming in after recess, the supply teacher was nowhere in sight. Much to Gordon’s delight, though, his pair of fake plastic teeth that Mrs. Hoagsbrith had taken away from him two months ago was sitting on the teacher’s desk.
“Great!” said Gordon, grabbing them and popping them into his mouth. For the next ten minutes he entertained us with funny faces and silly grins.
The door finally opened and Mrs.
Johnson shuffled over to the teacher’s desk.
She stopped and looked at the desk, and then slowly turned around to
Gordon turned white as a sheet and fainted. Laughing, I grabbed the teeth from his mouth and handed them to Mrs. Johnson. “These must be them,” I said.
“Oh, thank you!” she said, popping them into her mouth. “Wait. What’s that on your face?”
Before I could move, she grabbed me with one hand and pulled a lace hanky out of her pocket with the other. Spitting on the hanky, she began wiping dirt off my face. Then she noticed the girl beside me, whose hair was windblown and tangled from recess. Spitting on her hand, she ran it over the girl’s hair to smooth it down. The rest of the class quickly began smoothing their own hair and brushing dirt and crumbs off their faces.
When everyone had settled down, Mrs. Johnson sat down and fell asleep. She snored quietly until the lunch bell rang.
Scared of getting dirty or windblown, our class huddled next to the school doors outside and discussed our situation.
“Well,” said Gordon. “On the one hand, she’s kind and doesn’t make us do any work. But on the otherhand, she spits on us! Let’s have a vote. Who wants to keep the old girl?”
No one said anything.
“Well, who wants to get rid of her?” he asked. Every hand went up. It was unanimous. The only problem was how do you get rid of a 95 year old teacher?
It turns out, getting rid of Mrs. Johnson was easier than we thought. Gordon came up with a brilliant plan. Sneaking into school early the next day, Gordon put on a flowered dress and a wig that he had worn for Halloween one year when he dressed up like our teacher. He stood by the window and waited. Paulo and I waited in the parking lot. When Mrs. Johnson and her son pulled in, Paulo and I were ready. We went quickly over to the car and pointed to our classroom window. We explained that Mrs. Hoagsbrith had made a remarkable recovery and she was already back at work. We no longer needed a supply teacher. Gordon waved from the classroom window. Mrs. Johnson looked up at the window, gave a sad little smiled and sighed. “Well, it was fun while it lasted,” she said. “I’ll miss you all. You are a dear group of boys and girls.” She and her son drove off.
We posted a sign on our classroom door that read “Shh. Do Not Disturb. Testing.” For the rest of the week, we watched movies, played video games and listened to music. It was the best week we ever had.
The following Monday, Mrs. Hoagsbrith returned to school. “Mr. Evans told me that your class had testing all last week” she said. “I’m so sorry. I think that you deserve a break today, so we are not going to do any work at all! Instead, we are going to watch movies and play computer games!”
It was good to have our teacher back.
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