Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Iris Goldstein is my mentor at Shitty Bronx High School. It’s official. She gets paid to do it. I didn’t know she was getting paid for quite some time and thought she was just being nice, which I found odd, because she’s not a very nice person.

Goldstein is in her 50s and is old-school Bronx Jewish all-the-way. She actually went to Shitty Bronx High School a million years ago when she was a young (and presumably less bitter) lady. And she is very bitter indeed. She also has a hunchback, which her students, of course, love.

She tried to help me at first, I think. She gave me a bag of little plastic animal toys that she had used when she taught elementary school. She suggested I might use them with my Level 1 kids. These young people are 15 to 19 years old. Most of them are sexually active. Many of them are in gangs. They were not interested in toy giraffes.

Mostly though, her mentoring consists of one-liners delivered from her phlegm-filled throat through her garishly lip-sticked lips.

“No one does any of the work I assign,” I will tell her when she asks me how my classes are going.

“They are not exactly intellectual giants,” she will respond, which is mostly true, but not very helpful.

I shouldn’t have expected much, I guess, because Goldstein is a terrible teacher herself. She writes an assignment on the board, then sits at her desk and reads the Times whiled the kids eat candy and, litter, and simulate sex in the back of the class.

That’s when she’s there. She uses a sick day at least twice a week. She even faked a broken arm that kept her out for almost six weeks. Loud weeping was heard coming from the student bathrooms on the day of her return.

In her ultimate bid to get out of work she accused a student of sexually harassing her by looking down her shirt. This is a 50-something year old woman… with a hunchback. All the students in the class claimed that she was leaning over, her saggy flapjack teats dangling, while everyone did their best to avoid the horrific sight before them.

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