Wednesday, January 09, 2008


When voting for Most Inspirational Teacher takes place later this year, I hope the voters take into consideration the events of yesterday. Or maybe not.

After fifth period one of my students stuck around to talk. She was bummed out. Her mother recently told her she'd have to transfer to another school after this semester. "My mom doesn't like the influences here," she said.

"And she thinks it'll be different at the other school," I asked, "because you won't know anyone?"

"Yeah, at least for the first month," she answered, "and then it'll be the same thing."

As I was getting started on my motivational speech on how change must come for within, how she'll never succeed anywhere until she first realizes the importance of success, blah blah blah, the school social worker walked in and interrupted.

"Sorry to interrupt," he said, "but I have to tell you something, and then I have to get going."

"Sure," I said, expecting him to tell me about his apartment building or some such thing.

"You really inspired one of your students," he said with a hint of sarcasm. "I think you should be proud."

Oh boy, I thought, now what?

"Issac brought in a sword to school today. It was about this big," he said, extending his hand down from the floor to his chest. "He said he brought it in for you. Well, first he said he was going to sacrifice some goats."

Did he actually bring a sword into the building? Yes, walked right in with it in plain view. Was it taken away? Oh yeah. Was anyone informed? Yes, police were called. Mom was called. She came in, and after an extended interview with the young man--during which time he repeatedly refused to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and kept dropping his English teacher's name--mom took the sword home and he was allowed to return to his classes.

This kid Isaac (not his real name) is a little weird. A weird, chubby, video-game-playing, anime-watching kind of weird. The kind of kid who says things like, "One day, I will rule," and everyone laughs. In other words, a potential threat in the post-Columbine world.

Still, I know he was bringing it in to show me. I don't think we ever discussed him bringing in a sword, although I'm pretty sure he once told me about it. And I bet I must have sounded intrigued. "Oh really? You have a sword? How nice," I probably said while doing my attendance or something.

And I definitely remember discussing goat sacrifice. We were reading Beowulf, talking about how Hrothgar's people started praying for the devil's help in ridding the kingdom of Grendel. And, just to show the creepiness of the situation, I did say something like, "Now, how many of you would worship the devil just to get an A in my class?"

The whole class shrank in terror at the thought. Except for Isaac, who said, "I would! I totally would."

"Really?" I said. "Would you worship, do the whole thing, even sacrifice a goat?"

He smiled, then turned serious. "For an A? Absolutely."

And so I know he wasn't lying about bringing in the sword to show me.

Later in the day, I saw the head of security. "Hey," I said, "what's this about Isaac bringing in a sword?"

"He did," she laughed. "And now that I think about it, he did mention your name. What was that about?"

"Oh, I don't know," I said. "I guess I'm just trying to be an inspirational teacher."


subhuman said...

Holy cow! I'm imagining him walking to school (or taking the CTA) with a 4ft sword in tow. And rollin' into school with it... Do you have metal detectors at your school? Now I'm envisioning him calmly putting it on the conveyor belt for the x-ray...

appopt said...

I never thought about what it must have looked like, but you're right, it had to be pretty hilarious. All I could think about was this kid insisting that this sword was for me. "Seriously, we're going to sacrifice goats!"