Monday, March 08, 2004

Spent the first week and a half of the school-year as an “un-placed” Fellow, forced, along with about a dozen “excessed” (isn’t that what you do to a boil?) teachers, to report to a middle school in the Bronx where we were stuck in a library most of the day organizing boxes and boxes of books (part of Chancellor Klein’s literacy push), and receiving full-salary and benefits all the while.

My only other duty required me to stand in the sweltering student cafeteria as a sort of lunch sergeant, positioned in a sentry-like position. I was to make sure the kids sat at their assigned tables (separated by grade and gender) and keep them sitting there until their particular table was given clearance to dump their trays and head to the playground. This is a nearly impossible task. I tried to use this time to develop some sort of teacher-style “evil-eye” look – lips pursed, eyes bugged, one eyebrow raised menacingly - but it remained wholly ineffective, even when I could pull it off without giggling.

My filing colleagues, a motley group of under-qualified and/or disagreeable teachers whose Union cards made them nearly impossible to fire, were a disheartening mix of bitter and apathetic, pissed that they were having to scramble for new jobs, but not exactly chomping at the bit to start serving the youth. The most entertaining of the bunch, a big, gay, Hispanic art-teacher who spent the entire time meticulously cutting out bubble letters for various bulletin boards, was also the most literate.

"Oh God, The Catcher of the Rye,” he moaned, lisping and rolling his eyes and his Rs while misreading the title of the classic he had plucked from atop one of the many teetering piles of books cluttering up the table in front of him. “They made us read this at college. This book is boring…”

No-one else had ever heard of it.

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