Not Too Far Gone
“Do you have Shayla Smith in your 5th hour class?” Jacqueline Vance asked her longtime friend. Jacqueline was an extremely intelligent ten year math teacher at Yorkwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana. She was humble with southern reserve and superstar looks which put you in the mind of Beyoncé.
“I sure do and that chick is giving me the blues.” Yolanda Clark responded. Yolanda was the exact opposite of Jacqueline which probably made their friendship work. She was not humble at all and her exotic flare was the first thing you noticed at first glance. Meeting Yolanda put you in the mind of Nicki Minaj meets Mariah Carey; ghetto, glossy, and glamorous and all at the same time.
“I wonder whether something is happening at home because every day, she comes to my class upset. It’s like she wakes up angry and anger follows her throughout the day. Mr. Jacobs sent her to the office yesterday and I heard the secretary say she cursed them out royally.” Jacqueline inquired with a statement knowing well Yolanda probably didn’t care either way, but she continued on. “They mentioned to me how she cursed like a fifty year old sailor and afterwards she retrieved her purse from the counter and told them she was going to the bathroom. Well, I hear she never came back. Your boss was suspending her for a couple of days and for some unknown reason, decided to drop the suspension and let her into class today.”
“I don’t know what Brandon did that for. All he does is sit his fat butt in that office and drink coffee and leaves us to deal with the monsters.” Yolanda said folding her arms as if she were scorching mad.
“Girl”, Jacqueline exclaimed with passion, “You can’t label them as monsters!”
“Oh yes I can!” Yolanda answered definitely before finishing her statement. “They don’t have any home training at all. These children are too far gone to come back and no one seems to be noticing our classrooms are now more like circuses.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. I still won’t go as far-flung as to call them monsters. There has to be something going on. Do you remember when we were children? Our parents raised us and not our siblings. We had the fear of Jesus and the belt, so that kept us grounded.” Jacqueline stated knowing well her dad would probably still beat her if she got out of line now, and she was grown.
“These days, if you beat their butts, you go to jail.” Yolanda stated as a matter of fact. “Even if you threaten to beat them, they can call the police or social services on you and this is why I will never have children, and furthermore they don’t pay us to find out what’s going on with these children. They barely compensate us enough to teach them.” Yolanda concluded.
“I can’t argue with you about our pay but what I do know is if someone doesn’t help her, she will be spending some time in jail.” Jacqueline said while shaking her head from side to side.
“Well, you do you. At 3:30, when that bell rings, I’m running to my car, going to buy me a stiff martini, take a bubble bath, get up in my bed, forget about this school-the people who run this school, and the children who need it but don’t realize it.” Yolanda responded in her typical could care less dialect. Everyone knew she was only there for the paycheck she complained about constantly, and because of her attitude, no one dared asking her why she even became an English teacher in the first place.
“Okay girl, I guess I’ll connect with you after school or Monday.” Jacqueline replied knowing there was no need to say more. She and Yolanda were two different persons and personalities, and they thought differently as well. She could not expect Yolanda to be as passionate about the children as she was, but she did wish one day she would start to care about them.
“Only, if I don’t decide to take one of my sick days.” Yolanda said as she turned and went into her class. She knew that Jacqueline wanted her to at least act like she cared about these hard-headed children but she was done wasting her time. Especially on folks who did not seem to care about themselves. She figured if they did, they would come in these free classrooms, filled with underpaid teachers, and learn.
Jacqueline swiftly walked back into her class and closed the door. Complete knowledge of just how bad the school system had become over the course of the ten years, was constantly staring her in the face. Her mother retired an educator after thirty-eight years and seeing all the kids she’d touched-- made Jacqueline want to follow in her footsteps. Students were not as easy to teach as they were when her mom taught and situations concerning the children were beginning to weigh heavily on her heart.
She often thought of changing professions but each time she decided to leave the school-system, something would happen to make her stay. Unfortunately, there weren’t too many jobs you could be off on weekends and every holiday. Surely the pay did not compensate for all the work rendered, but she’d managed with what she earned and being married surely made it much easier.