The Teacher is the Student


Unemployment has run out. I’m working at Costco Hawaii Kai as a seasonal hire, which I hope to turn into a permanent position in January when the job ends. I have never worked so hard in my life. I lift, push, pull and run. I clean bathrooms. I sell Versace handbags. I especially like running into friends and I also like when total strangers engage with me because of my name tag. So, I hope that will be a job I get to continue to enjoy. When I go to work my husband says, “Have a nice workout!”

The teacher's work table.

The teacher’s work table.

But I’m also doing something else. Upon advice from friends in the know, I revamped my resume yet again and attached it to copies of my substitute teacher certificate and evidence of passing my TB test. They also recommended that I hand deliver my resume to the schools I want to work at and request I be put on their preferred list. I did that this morning.

I went to three grammar schools in East Oahu: Koko Head, where I personally know the principal; to Kamiloiki, where I am an unknown; and to Hahaione, whose principal I know at a distance. I also went to Kaiser High. The acting principal, Justin Mew, signed my paperwork in August approving my enrollment in the course while he was the principal at Niu Valley Middle School.

And then I crossed my fingers. And I wondered if I would like being a substitute. I consider myself young at heart and a free spirit. How would that work with teenagers?

Unicorn bones.

Unicorn bones.

About 20 minutes after I dropped off my resume at Kaiser, I got a call from the art teacher asking me to come in because he was feeling sick. I stuttered, asked a few questions and said yes, throwing all of my other plans aside, even the one where I pick up Kid2 at school at 2:15.

Students' work.

Students’ work.

 

 

 

 

 

Art students. Talk about free spirits. As I waited in the room for them to show up, I looked around. I had to find out about emergency procedures, exits, bathrooms and room rules. I was fascinated by the work that surrounded me. This teacher is a proponent of expression without restriction. He encourages his students to work through the mistakes and to work the mistakes into the final work as those flaws speak to the artist and to the observer.

Talk about speaking to my heart! This is what has to happen to me? I get called on the spot and put in a classroom to learn how to relax and write?

Old style bikes and chickens.

Old style bikes and free-range chickens, the unofficial mascot of Kaiser HS.

As a writer I edit myself into a straight jacket. You know why.

The students were generally well behaved. I’m sure they took advantage of my newness, but I stayed engaged, walked around and observed while they painted, and wrote down in my notes to the teacher who did the work and who didn’t, just because.