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A Good Teacher Will Make You Feel Heard

, , , , , | Learning | June 9, 2021

I’m twelve and in the seventh grade. I’m deaf and wear hearing aids. My science teacher is out sick, and we have a substitute. I’m sitting at the front of the class.

The substitute approaches me.

Substitute: “[My Name], headphones aren’t permitted during school.”

Me: *Confused* “What? I don’t have headphones.”

Substitute: “You have them in right now!”

Me: “These are my hearing aids.”

Substitute: “TAKE. THEM. OUT.”

Me: “I can’t. I need them to hear.”

Substitute: “NOW!”

Me: “No.”

The substitute rips my hearing aids out and stomps them. I start crying, both from the pain of having my hearing aids wrenched from my ears and from anger. Another student stands up.

Classmate: “Those were his hearing aids, you motherf*****!”

Substitute: “Office. Now.”

The student went to the office and returned with the vice-principal in about five minutes. The whole class was yelling at the substitute, and I was sitting there bawling.

The vice-principal sent the substitute out, regained control of the class, and comforted me. At the end of the day, the substitute was fired, the district paid to get my $3,000 hearing aids replaced, and the student who stood up for me was awarded $5 at the student store.

This story is part of our Best Of June 2021 roundup!

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Read the Best Of June 2021 roundup!

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Memories You’ll Be Sure To Treasure

, , , | Legal | June 8, 2021

My late mother-in-law was an elementary school secretary for years — more than twenty years at the time of this incident. She was considered a classified employee, in the same category as teaching assistants, janitors, and any employee but teachers. As such, there was a salary schedule, based on years worked. One to three years earned a certain number of dollars, five to seven years a certain amount more, and so on.

Every year, she would have an evaluation, always getting good scores, and the school district would send her a contract for the following year stating the proposed salary, usually with a small raise. The thing was, the schedule only went up to fifteen years. It had never really been a problem until the district got a new treasurer.

Several months after the treasurer started, he walked into the school office, stopped by her desk, and announced in front of everyone there:

Treasurer: “I’ve been looking through the records and I see you’re making too much money. I’ll let you know what I find.”

And he left, leaving everyone speechless. The principal went out after him and told him to not discuss personnel matters in front of everyone. The treasurer shrugged and left. My mother-in-law was shaken, having no idea what had just happened. She probably wasn’t making more than ten or eleven thousand dollars, not a great amount even then. And it happened several more times, despite the principal’s efforts to get this idiot to talk privately about things.

My mother-in-law didn’t tell us any of this until the treasurer blew into the office one day.

Treasurer: “I’ve figured this out. All you have to do is pay back what we’ve overpaid you. And we’ll only go back for five years since it was mostly our mistake.”

And he left.

That night, my mother-in-law told us, in tears, what was going on. Honestly, I think she was secretly hoping we would give her the money and she could just forget the whole thing. She was estimating it would be around $4,000.

I had a different idea. My oldest sister is a lawyer. I’ve never before or since asked her for free legal help, but I figured circumstances warranted it. I explained the situation to her. After she stopped laughing, she said:

Sister: “Does that idiot know how many legal actions he’s opened the school up to? Civil actions, department of labor actions?”

Me: “What do we do?”

Sister: “Do you have one of my business cards? Write my home phone number on it. If this jerk comes back, and I’m sure he will, tell your mother-in-law to give him the card and say the following: ‘This is my niece’s business card. She is acting as my attorney in this matter. If you have anything else to say, call her. I have nothing else to say.’ Then she should just walk away.”

My mother-in-law was horrified. She was extremely non-confrontational, especially to figures of authority.

Mother-In-Law: “I couldn’t possibly say anything like that to him!”

Me: “You’ve got two choices: stand up to this guy or find the money to pay back.”

Mother-In-Law: *Unhappily* “Well, maybe it will all blow over.”

But she took the card. And sure enough, the treasurer came back a couple of weeks later. This time, though, she was called into the principal’s office. She took the card and walked in. The treasurer started in, all magnanimous.

Treasurer: “I understand how hard it will be for you to pay back the money all at once, so I’ve devised a payment plan.”

At that, my mother-in-law finally got mad. She handed him the business card, said her piece, and left. Then, she went straight to the ladies’ room and started crying. A few minutes later, one of the other secretaries came in laughing.

Secretary: “I don’t know what you said to him, but he ran out of the office like it was on fire.”

When my mother-in-law went back to the office, the principal and everyone else were laughing, too.

Principal: “[Treasurer]’s jaw practically hit the floor! He went white as a ghost and ran out of my office like the devil was chasing him.”

A couple of weeks later, my mother-in-law got a letter from the head of Human Resources saying that the matter had been investigated, nothing improper had been found, and the matter was now closed. I don’t know if anything happened to the treasurer, but anytime he came into the school office, he wouldn’t even look at her up to the day she retired.

This story is part of our Best Of June 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of June 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of June 2021 roundup!

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No One Deserves To Deal With That

, , , , | Learning | May 23, 2021

I’m an American teaching in Mexico. I’m joking with a new teacher about how badly my digestive system reacted when I first arrived.

Me: “It took me about a month for my stomach to get used to things. I even ended up having to throw away a pair of underwear.”

Teacher: “You threw them away? Why didn’t you wash them?”

Me: “We don’t have a washing machine. Our cleaning woman does our clothes by hand.”

Teacher: “Why didn’t you ask her to wash them?”

Me: “That… might have been a bit much to ask.”

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This Teacher Is A Dark Spot On A Sunny Day

, , , , , | Learning | May 21, 2021

There’s an eclipse today and my entire class wants to see it. My maths teacher, however, is unwilling to let us out of class. Eventually, we stop begging permission and just rush out of class and start peering at the rapidly darkening sky.

We’re not the only ones; pretty much the entire school has crowded into the hallways and parade square to look at the sky.

Math Teacher: “All of you, back into class! What would [Principal] say if he saw you all?!”

My classmate then points down, into the parade square, where the principal is setting up the largest camera I’ve ever seen and pointing it into the sky, cheerfully and excitedly talking with some students.

Our math teacher lets out a scandalised sound of disbelief.

Math Teacher: “Disgraceful! The education system is going to the dogs!”

She then stomped off, leaving us to watch the eclipse in peace. It was amazing, the first anyone in school had ever seen. 

The principal’s photos later wound up as part of the school song music video.

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Laptop Claptrap

, , , , | Learning | May 19, 2021

I was born deaf and have been nonspeaking my whole life. I was diagnosed with severe dyspraxia at four, which has affected my coordination and balance, and with autism at eight.

I have a classroom assistant who helps me communicate with my teacher and the other kids, and because I find writing so tiring and stressful, the school gives me a laptop to use. The laptop doesn’t belong to me and has my name on it along with a label saying, “Property of [School]”.

Sadly, there are some girls who feel it’s unfair that I have been given a laptop and they haven’t.

One afternoon, we’re all going to a hockey match to support our school. I walk to my locker with my classroom assistant and stow my laptop safely. After the match, I open my locker to remove my laptop… and it’s gone! I’m really upset and crying, and my poor classroom assistant can do nothing to cheer me up.

We go to the principal to explain. The next day, during assembly:

Principal: “I will allow the perpetrator to return the laptop to me, without punishment, by the end of school.”

The following day, no laptop. Two days go by, and still no laptop. I am suffering physically and mentally because of the stress. During the next assembly:

Principal: “I will be conducting locker searches if the laptop is not returned by the end of the day.”

Then, one of the teachers comes forward.

Teacher: “I saw a girl from [My Name]’s year giving something rectangular and thin to a boy at the bus stop.”

The girl in question was interviewed but denies it, even though three other girls admitted seeing her do it. I was losing all hope of ever being able to do schoolwork again, as the school wouldn’t replace the laptop until they were certain it wouldn’t be returned.

Then, the principal got a call from the father of a boy who went to one of the other local schools. He turned out to be the boyfriend of the girl the teacher had seen. He’d left the laptop sitting around his home, and his father saw it, didn’t recognise it, and saw my name and the school’s name on the bottom! The laptop was returned to the school and then to me.

The girl who stole it was expelled for theft and disability discrimination. Her boyfriend was suspended from his school and grounded by his father. And me? I NEVER let that laptop out of my sight again!

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