“I have our students’ best interests at heart,” Mylah said immediately after their first teachers’ meeting of the year.
“I, too, have our students’ best interests at the forefront,” the defiant Ron Edwards said coolly as he eyed her playfully.
Mylah stood silent for a moment. As much as the situation steamed her, it was hard to keep her anger focused on the outrage she felt. How dare this new math teacher enter their schoolyear, knowing little about their middle school, as only a part-time teacher/full-time boys’ basketball coach, and call her out in front of everyone, including the principal, for her teaching style.
At that meeting, she had spotted him immediately. Tall, handsome, with his irritatingly powerful presence, all female eyes in the room seemed glued to their new authoritative coworker. He oozed charisma in all directions. So much so, that she became flustered when their principal asked her to give a short talk on how she had overhauled the mandatory curriculum followed by a compliment on her great results.
“Um, uhhh,” she had stammered, “ahh, yes . . .” Don’t look at him. Focus, Mylah. She pushed her lips together, then continued. “At the beginning of last schoolyear, I went through the entire year’s studies and identified areas where I could apply creative ways of engaging and teaching my students. I used tools such as games, real-life applications of difficult concepts, and dramatic activities, among many other creative approaches to engage students.
“Excuse me,” the handsome new teacher said, “Are you saying that you used the arts to teach a concrete subject like math?”
“Yes,” Mylah, flattered by his attention, smiled in his direction, “with great success. The students’ comprehension increased approximately 22% that year. And, I saw much more class participation.”
“I find it hard to believe that you can ‘creatively’ teach a concept so solid as math,” he said, “One plus one always equals two. Does it not?”
Mylah felt her face start to burn. She took a deep breath. “The concepts in math are concrete. One plus one does equal two, but the way you learn that may take different approaches. I am simply using more engaging activities to reach the more apathetic youth. Boredom is the greatest challenge to overcome. You have to break through that disinterest to make the subject fun and interesting.”
“I happen to think math is a fun and interesting subject,” he smiled coyly, almost like he was baiting her. Why was he so compelling? He had to be a jerk of the first degree. She would not give him the satisfaction.
“The results speak for themselves, Mr. Edwards,” she said.
The principal cut into their back-and-forth, “Perhaps the two of you would like to continue this discussion at a more appropriate time. We have other business to attend to.”
“Perhaps we shall,” Ron said, flashing a toothy grin her direction. Was he flirting with her, or simply showing off his arrogance?
At the end of the meeting, she wasted no time in following him to his classroom.
“You say you have your students’ best interests in mind, but you remind me of the tired old professors I had when I was young,” she said. “Offering nothing better than memorization to the aid in the study of math and science. Great for the students who enjoy it, but an uphill battle for those who don’t.”
His response was a broad smile. There was a twinkle in his intense eyes. “I do admire your passion.”
The compliment caught her off-guard and she relaxed into an involuntary smile.
“I think we got off on the wrong foot here,” he continued. “Can we call a truce?”
“Okay,” she said hesitantly, “but you’re not getting off that easily. I believe in my method, and I fully intend to work it into the school’s official curriculum.”
“I trust you will.”
In the span of a couple of hours she had gone from a first impression of “absolute hunk” to “smug schmuck.” Now she wasn’t sure.
“I suppose I have my work cut out for me trying to win you over,” she said.
“I won’t make it easy for you, but you are wrong about me being like your ‘tired, old’ professors. I really do have an open mind.”
“I’ll believe that when I see it,” she said.
“We can start right now,” he said looking deeply into her eyes, “Let me take you to dinner, and you can start your crusade tonight. I can be a mighty ally. If you can convince me, you can convince anyone.”
If she was going to know what he was really like, there was only one way to find out.
“Alright, I’m up for that challenge,” she said. “Let’s do it.”
Copyright 2023, Monica Nelson