Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Rest of the Story

For Science class in eighth grade I had Mr. Williams as my teacher. Until then he had always seemed like a strict, mean, scary kind of a person whenever I passed him in the hallway or walked past his classroom as a seventh grader. He was short, stocky with a Hitler-type mustache and slicked back black hair. I had never seen him smile, but more than a few times had seen him yelling at kids running in the hall, so I was more than a bit nervous when I found out he'd be my science teacher in eighth grade.

Our school district was a small one, and just a couple of years before this they had decided to send the seventh & eighth graders to the high school, rather than keep them in the elementary schools until eighth grade like they always had in the past. It had been pretty intimidating coming in as a seventh grader, walking down the same halls as the older kids - who looked like grown men and women to me at the time, and trying to find a niche among all the confusion of being shoved in with kids I'd never seen before from the one other elementary school in the district. That seventh grade year was one of resentment on my part. It became apparent right away that they had sorted all the incoming seventh graders into two classes; the smart kids and the dumb kids. I found myself with the latter group, which angered me terribly. I had been almost a straight A student through the first six grades, and to be thrown in with this group which was comprised mainly of the poorest, roughest, hardest-to-teach kids was an insult to my 12 year old ego. I set out to show them that they were wrong about me and got A's in all my subjects that year. Looking back now, I'm glad I was put with that group because I met some really great friends who I would have never gotten to know as well otherwise. The next year I was transferred to the "smart" group.

It was my luck that the group I was put into in eighth grade got Mr. Williams for science. Had I stayed in the not-so-smart class I would have had the very personable Mr. Duke as science teacher. I don't think I was the only one afraid of Science with Mr. Williams. His unpleasant demeanor was well known, and the fact that he was a preacher outside of school only seemed to add to his strict reputation. So, on the first day we all sat down and waited for class to start. It just so happened that our class started at about 12:05. We found out that first day that Mr. Williams was an avid listener to the Paul Harvey radio show, which ran from about 12 to 12:20 or so. For those first 15 minutes of class no one did anything but listen to Paul Harvey. Then we discussed what he'd been talking about all through class. The next day and every day that year we mainly listened to the radio and talked about world subjects that Mr. Harvey had brought up. We discovered that we had lucked out big time with our class starting at the time it did. I think he graded on how well you listened, or how interested you seemed, because one semester I remember that I took one test - only one the whole semester- and failed it. I got an A on my grade card for that semester. Not a lot of science was handled that year, and Mr. Williams wasn't the monster we thought he was... at least not at that time of the day.


Blogger Michelle's Spell said...


I loved this post -- particularly the part about Paul Harvey! I haven't thought of him in years -- my dad used to listen to him at that exact same time during his lunch break for years. This brought up some great memories!

9:03 AM  

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