With a loud sigh, Madeline Myers laid the essay she had just finished on the growing pile to her left. Then, rather than reach for the next one, she opted instead for the open bottle of beer that rested between the two piles. Normally, the thirty-six year old redhead would never indulge while grading student papers, but in this circumstance she felt she would never get through them without doing so.
Putting down the bottle, she again sighed as she picked up another paper from the now thankfully smaller stack to her right. Glancing at the title, she saw that this one, at least, had a different subject than the last six. While she had expected a good number of the students to pick the easiest subject, reading the results had been frustrating because just about every one of them had failed to cover the most important points.
“Well you have no one to blame but yourself,” Maddie thought as she began to read the opening paragraph. “You could’ve just said no when Principal Carey asked you to take over Mr. Andreatti’s history class, just like the other six teachers he asked before you did.”
A month before, Dino Andreatti, one of the high school’s veteran teachers, had suffered a mild heart attack. Thankfully, his doctor’s prognosis was for a full recovery, but he would be out until the next term at the very least. Catching Maddie at an unguarded moment, one which she later defined as one in which she couldn’t come up with a believable excuse as to why she couldn’t, John Carey had talked her into taking over the class for the last few weeks.
“It’s a senior class,” Carey had stressed as he tried to make the offer more appealing, “they graduate in not more than a month. It’s more babysitting than teaching.”
Normally, Maddie wouldn’t have minded the extra assignment, especially since she owed the principal a favor or two. She actually still liked being a teacher, although admittedly not as much as when she’d first stepped in front of a class twelve years before. Her reluctance in this case was that it was American History 101, or as it was more commonly known – the Neanderthals.
Every school had a class like that, some more than one. A class designed to be an easy grade for jocks that needed to keep their academic eligibility. Maddie wasn’t naïve; she knew how the game, so to speak, was played. That didn’t mean, however, that she had to like it.
In fact, she was about to say no, excuse or no excuse, when the principal played his trump card. If she took over the class, he promised, he would count the extra time against the post term activities that every teacher was required to do. In other words, she would start her summer vacation two weeks ahead of everyone else. That, Maddie had to admit, fell under the category of an offer she couldn’t refuse.
Therefore, she agreed to go along, but only to a point. There was no way she was going to give out passing grades without having anything to base them on. Just showing up for class simply wasn’t going to cut it, not with her name on the class register. The problem, she quickly discovered, was that Mr. Andreatti hadn’t so much as given a pop quiz all semester.
It wouldn’t have taken much effort to come up with a final exam, but even she had to admit that it wouldn’t be fair to judge this class by the same standards that she used for her regular ones. It was also doubtful, she judged, that most of these students could pass one of her tests. It was then that she came up with the idea of the essay.
She announced to the class the next morning, only the third day of her charge, that their entire final grade was going to be based on an independent research paper. The topic of which, she said, could be of their own choosing, as long as it covered a subject listed in the syllabus. All they had to do to pass, and in doing so graduate, was show that they had learned something about American History this year. At the time, little had she imagined that in the case of this particular class, even that might prove an insurmountable task. By the time she’d read the first half dozen essays, Maddie realized that she’d be grading their work on a very generous curve. Then, by the time the read pile was one paper higher than the unread one, the first bottle of beer had been opened.
It wasn’t that these kids were stupid, she thought, just that too many of them were simply lazy. From the time most of them first picked up a ball and exhibited superior skill in handling it, they had been led to believe that was all that mattered. Oh they might have to apply themselves somewhat in a few classes, but not too many. Not when there were teachers and school officials that were willing to help them along. Student sports brought both prestige and more importantly additional funding to the school, money that kept other programs going in a time of budget cuts. They also, she admitted, gave some students access to college educations that they might otherwise never have afforded. It was a game alright, one that had been played long before she’d become a teacher and would most likely continue long after she was gone. Therefore, it was pointless, she told herself, to get upset about it.
The student whose name graced the paper she next picked up was a perfect example of that system. Johnny Knight was an eighteen-year old first baseman on the school’s championship team. Well on his way to leading them to their fourth state title, he’d been offered both a full scholarship to one of the best schools in the state as and invited to skip school totally and play minor league ball. As far as anyone knew, he hadn’t yet made up his mind.
As she opened the plastic cover and began to read, Maddie remembered another aspect to the baseball player that had added to his fame. It might have been expected for a young man with his movie star looks and athletic form to score heavily among the school’s female population, but an often whispered but never confirmed rumor had made him almost legendary. The rumor claimed that his many conquests hadn’t been confined to a who’s who of the most desirable girls in school, but had included at least one and possibly two teachers as well. It had been a rumor that the administration hadn’t been eager to investigate, considering it their own version of don’t ask, don’t tell.
Every time she heard that rumor, Maddie wondered if it was true, and if so, who the teacher might have been. If she had to pick a likely candidate, her vote would go to Yvonne Anders, a physical education teacher who had topped the schools secret TILF list that the students created every year. Officially, just about every female teacher in the school, and a few male ones once the list became co-ed, expressed outrage that such a list actually existed. Secretly, however, more than a few harbored a secret delight at having been included on it. In all her years as a teacher, Maddie hadn’t so much as gained an honorable mention.
If that rumor was indeed true, Maddie wasn’t sure if she should be ashamed of her associate, whoever she or they might really be, or envious. At five ten and a hundred and sixty-two pounds, just about all of it muscle, coupled with looks that belonged on a matinee star and not the baseball field, Johnny Knight was temptation enough to lead the most devout woman astray. She’d often overheard other teachers who’d had him in their classes confess to their closest friends that if they let their minds wander too long thinking about it, they often ventured into forbidden realms.
Focusing her attention back on the subject in hand, Maddie found herself considerably surprised. She had expected Johnny’s report to be one of the worst of the lot and it was anything but. Her low expectation had been based on a confrontation she’d had with him after the class in which she’d announced the project.
Quite self-confidently, he had come up to her desk after everyone else had cleared the room, and informed her that because of his busy practice schedule, especially with the state championships only a few weeks away, Mr. Andreatti usually excused him from assignments like this. What was unmentioned, but inherent in his attitude, was his equally active social life.
Taken back for a moment by his presumption, especially since his former teacher had never given him any assignments to be excused from in the first place, Maddie had replied to his request with an anger that in hindsight was perhaps a bit over the top. He would, she informed him, submit a final report like everyone else or fail the class. Further, she added, if he planned to go and complain to Principal Carey, like she had heard he’d done on other occasions, he was free to do so. But she also warned him that she and the principal had an agreement that she could run this class as she saw fit, and that wasn’t about to change. Not if he wanted her to continue teaching it. In her class, she repeated, he had to do more than just occupy space.
“This is pretty good work,” Maddie said to herself as she turned another page. “I’m really surprised. Who’d have imagined that King Jock had a first class brain to go with his first class bod?”
Of course that wasn’t a sentiment she could share. Teachers were, after all, not supposed to notice such things. Not even when boys with rippling muscles came to class with body fitting t-shirts, or sweet young things wore outfits that left little to the imagination, especially when they had their tits all but hanging out.
.... There is more of this story ...