“‘Telling a student in front of the class you’ll help him in a minute could be seen as aggressive,’” I pointed to the sheet where Dean typed his comments for my teaching observation. “I’m not sure what part of my lesson this is.”
We sat in Dean’s cubicle of an office. From him I’d received the lowest scores in fifteen years of teaching.
“It was Kieran. At the beginning of class.”
“Oh,” I chuckled, “sounds about right.”
Dean frowned, “Knowing the history between the two of you-”
“Well, you’ve had your struggles…”
Yes, we had. Each day Kieran fell asleep or flipped chairs. I’d used all my teacher tools, had asked Dean for help.
“Okay, but you were there for ninety minutes. It’s the only comment you wrote in Relationships with Students.”
My voice was wispy. Dean had completely ignored the lesson – how I’d sat with each group, encouraged them: taught them.
“Look, I know you’ve had a rough adjustment here,” he said. “Many of the parents don’t like you, the students don’t like you, but I’m your cheerleader!”
I was in my mid-forties – far too old to imagine shoving all the papers off his desk, flinging his employee review like a frisbee over his head and telling him to “Suck it!”
But I wasn’t too old to feel like a failure when I turned in my resignation a few weeks later. And besides – I do have a history of leaving.
The ridges from the electronic dart game jammed into my scalp. The pain of that was nothing to the pressure of his hands pushing into my nineteen-year-old throat.
“You stupid bitch. You think you can come in here and strut around in front of everyone. This is my place. MINE!”
You’re the one sleeping around, I wanted to say. You got another girl pregnant. You never hung out here until I did.
A horseshoe shaped crowd of beer guzzlers gathered, pool players halting their game to watch. My eyes bulged as I looked for a rescuer.
“You guys quit screwing around,” the bartender yelled.
It’s decided I’m the problem – I’m told to go.
But two weeks later, when I packed up my life, my apartment, and moved ten hours away from my hometown – it was my choice.
“You’re sneaky-deceitful. Your friends are druggies: losers. Not to mention your snotty attitude around here,” spit flew from Dad’s mouth.
“Who do you think taught me to be sneaky and deceitful?” I screamed, rage rocketing from my gut. “You read my diary!”
It was this betrayal, the one abuse of all he’d committed, that finally dragged Mom over the edge. She wouldn’t leave him, but I could. At seventeen, I packed up my bedroom curtains and comforter and moved out of my childhood home.
So I do have a history of leaving. But it’s not failure. It’s the power to make difficult choices so I can live – to thrive, rather than merely survive.
Stacey is a recovering educator who lives in Michigan with her family and their rescue dog, Lola. She’s working on a memoir called “The Can Man’s Daughter.” Please follow her on Twitter @sdaneviczwrites.