It seems fitting to begin Educating Queen Scarlet with my newest mentor, favorite educator, owner of the quote in my header, and inspiration for the title of this blog—Ms. Esme Raji Codell. Although I do not know her personally, I find her book Educating Esme, which I just read, totally inspiring and therefore find her a mentor in education. If you, a first-year educator or a seasoned veteran educator, have not read her book, I suggest you do. Please enjoy my favorite part, which is in dedication to her mentor teacher when she was student teaching. She writes:
Ismene Siteles. Fifth-grade teacher.
I didn’t think I would like her. She seemed so traditional…
Ismene taught me the basics: Ignoring bad behavior as long as you can stand it. Maintaining quiet lines. How a soft voice can be more effective than a loud voice. Starting out with positive comments to parents before lowering the boom. Waiting patiently for children to answer questions.
She also made me laugh.
“Where’s your homework?” she asked a boy.
“Suck my dick,” the boy replied.
To everything the boy replied, “Suck my dick.” “dick my dick.” “Suck my dick” Every day. “Suck my dick.” Ismene ignored it.
Finally, we were delivering the class to gym.
“Get in line.”
“Suck my dick.”
She pulled him out of line by his ear. “Come with me, Esme. I need a witness.” I followed.
She dragged him into the boy’s bathroom. They faced each other. His shoulders lifted and fell in puffy nylon jacket as he breathed forcefully, indignant about his treatment.
“Drop your pants!” She commanded.
“What! You can suck my dick!”
“That, sir, is exactly what I intend to do.”
His mouth fell open with an audible plop. They stood facing each other without moving for an eternity.
At last she spoke. “All year long I’ve been listening to you: “Suck my dick! Suck my dick!’ Why would you ask for something so ridiculous at school? From your teacher? Either you are completely crazy or you really want me to ‘suck your dick,’ as you have been insisting. So drop your pants.”
“No,” the mortified boy quavered.
“Then in the future,” she warned in a sinewy, deliberate, almost cheerful growl, “be careful what you ask for. Or a certain old lady just…might…give it to you.” She leaned down and opened both her eyes as wide as they would go and grinned with all her sharp teeth.
Having been the recipient of my first “suck my dick” this week, I laugh and recall this story remembering that I am not the first educator to encounter such rude and crude language. Although I do not have the ballsy to approach this young man the way Ismene did, it serves as a reminder that I am not just a substitute and I do not have to tolerate and will not tolerate such behavior. Thank you Ismene and Esme.
To see more from Esme, a professional readologist (she calls herself 🙂 ): see http://www.planetesme.com/