Tag Archive | school

Are Teachers Human?



Something strange happened to me when I hit the high school years. Maybe it happened to you, too.

When I was a little girl, I loved school. I mean, I LOVED school. By age 3, I was playing school at home. I’d get out my chalk board, crayons, paper, and books, and pretend I was a big girl going off to school with my older sister. My town didn’t have kindergarten (tells you how old I am – though, yes, kindergarten had been invented!) And my birthday was such that I missed the cut off date for first grade by a month. By the time I finally arrived at first grade, I was almost 7 and had been reading for years.

My teacher was in heaven listening to me read. She sent me up to the principal with my book that was clearly 5th grade level or higher. I was a bit scared to walk into her office, but I read to her with all the passion that I hold for reading to this day. After I was done, the principal hugged me! This is the woman that I had been told put red hot peppers on kids’ tongues if they’d been bad.

Over the early years, I experienced good and not so great teachers, interesting subjects and not. But I managed to hold onto my positive thoughts about school through 8th grade.

So what makes a straight A student from grades 1 through 8 turn into a teenager who hates school? That’s a mystery that is at the core of my novel PERSEPHONE IN HELL.

“The teachers were always catching Glory in a day dream or staring out the classroom window. Mrs. Hansen, her history teacher, seemed to make a game of writing up detention slips. I suppose it makes my sadistic, twisted, inhuman teacher happy. Today, Mrs. Hansen was drilling the class on the succession of English monarchs. Even though everyone knows that memorizing lists of long dead kings is an exercise that could make even the best student want to vomit. Worse even than studying the names and dates of battles and wars. Well, maybe it’s a tie between the two for deadliest.”

Was it the content of the class, or the teacher teaching it that made high school so fatally boring? Were my teachers really human? Did they have first names, families, lives outside the classroom? I thought of them as inhuman, or less than human, or simply so uninteresting that I didn’t think of them at all. Was it true, or was it me? Perhaps I had just turned some corner in life, never to look back. For the sake of consistency, ignoring that long ago hug that acknowledged me as a special person, perhaps a cut above the average, a person of note. Forgetting that I was a queen in my own right.

Time Stands Still


When I was a teenager, I could count on a few things. One, my life was boring and relentlessly so. Two, there was absolutely nothing of any entertainment value happening in my old home town. And three, time had a way of taking so long to pass that it seemed virtually to stand still.

I disliked high school very much. Okay, that’s four. Along with the going to school (already remarked upon at length), there was the reality of the school day itself. Whether the subject was biology or algebra, Spanish or civics, I’d look at the clock in my classroom – 10:20. A half hour later, I’d look again – 10:23. And again when I was sure the bell had to sound any second – 10:23. Even my disturbingly handsome trigonometry teacher, Mr. S___, couldn’t persuade me to keep my eyes off the clock. You know the old saying about the pot that never boils? Watching that clock like I did, dragged out a perfectly standard school day into a universe of time.

And so it is for my character Glory in PERSEPHONE IN HELL. In this scene, she’s in history class, watching a spider up on the ceiling when she should have been listening to the teacher.

“Miss M____, are you still with us?” sneered Mrs. Hansen. “Can you tell me which monarch, which king was next in succession?” A trick question for sure.

Glory looked squarely at the teacher with her piercing violet eyes and replied in her straightforward way, as though she had been listening all along. “The great queen, Elizabeth the First, of course.” The class burst out laughing – Glory was so good at showing up the teacher. Mrs. Hansen turned red, furiously scribbled out a pink detention note, and slapped it on Gloria’s desk.

Glory looked up and saw the daddy long legs gone, escaped from the classroom. The spider at least, is free. She hoped with all the fierceness of her spirit that it was female.”

Now you might be thinking by this now that Glory is really me in disguise. But the truth is, I never got detention. Maybe once. Spiders freak me out. And I always paid attention in class. That’s the truth, for the most part.