I taught junior high for over 20 years. My main objective was to make English more bearable. I had the 8 B and C group. They already felt dumb. The smart kids were placed in the 8 A class. Hey! There are  advantages to being in here.  I’m not going to require a book report every month. I’m going to read you a book. I’m going to show you how to write a book report.  We’ll do it together. We will make our book report a comic book with pictures you get to draw!  Every year there was always someone who was going to make my life miserable. I could pick him or her out pretty quickly. That was the kid I made my star pupil. My pet. “Kylie?” She looked at me with  surprise and suspicion. “Will you do me a favor?” I guess… “Will you run this 20.00 bill down to the office for me? ” ….”Joe? Will you run to my car and carry in the box in my front seat?” I handed him my keys…. “Lindsay? Will you run to the library and get a book about Anne Frank?”  I could see the other students wonder why I would pick that kid to run my errand. Mrs. Meister, Austin is asleep again. “Austin? You ok Punkin? ”  I usually did the complete opposite of what they expected. One morning the principal came in looking for a few strong boys to help him. The hands flew up. He chose boys all over the room blatantly ignoring Jeremiah. Jeremiah was the biggest boy in the junior high, he was almost sixteen. He turned to me, scowled and knew he’d been wronged. He was an angry kid. I liked everybody, but he was difficult to like. I started finding ways he could help me. I made things up. I purposely left stuff in my car. I came up with excuses for him to go get things from the office. He changed. He started smiling. He started participating. His dad even came to parent/teacher conferences. I had my eyes opened.  I found ways to compliment the kids, share positive stories with their folks. Then he spoke. He was beet red with blood-shot eyes. He reeked of alcohol.  He was hard on the boy. His wife left when Jeremiah was small, and she barely had contact. He started crying. He never went to high school. Jeremiah liked me as his teacher. He talked about me at home- thought I was funny. Later that year, Jeremiah ran up to me at graduation. Mrs. Meister! Guess what? My mom’s here! We hugged. Years later, I had a washer and dryer delivered. It was Jeremiah. He was married  and had a daughter. As he pulled her picture out, I said with a sheepish grin, “Did you name her Marianne?” He grinned…her name is Savannah. ..

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