| School Daze |

School Daze: Teaching  

Now I’m back in high school, but on the other side of the desk 


As told to Perel Stone

Monday, September 13


 can’t believe I’m a teacher. After Mrs. Taub made such an enormous impact on my life, I wanted to be the kind of teacher who would always see the best in my students and make them feel special and cared about.

I often wonder what would have become of me if not for Mrs. Taub. My teachers in high school would never have believed I was once a girl who spent more time in the principal’s office than in the classroom, or that I ever hadn’t had friends.

I loved high school. A lot of teachers helped me believe in myself and they are role models for the kind of teacher I want to be. I’m blown away by the power a teacher has to affect her students, and I so badly want to use that influence in the best way possible.

I was lucky to nab one of the few teaching slots in my old high school after I got my teaching certification. Now I’m back in high school, but on the other side of the desk — as a teacher instead of as a student. No matter how busy I am, I try to be available for any girl who wants to talk to me, since I know how important it is.

Wednesday, February 2

Tzippy. If there was ever a student that needed someone to help her see her own worth, Tzippy certainly fits the bill.

Before I entered Tzippy’s classroom I was warned: she hated school and made sure everyone knew it. She would challenge every point teachers brought up in class. And she was mean; other girls were afraid to disagree with her.

Lucky for me, all I had to teach Tzippy’s class was math. Tzippy made it clear that she didn’t like math, but there wasn’t much for her to argue with me about the material I was teaching.

But today her class started discussing Purim costume themes for the school Purim chagigah. She had some ideas that weren’t so appropriate and I had to say that they wouldn’t work. Boy, did I get to see what the other teachers were talking about! “Why can’t we dress up the way we want to? There’s nothing wrong with these ideas!” Tzippy shouted.

I told her I understood she was frustrated, and she could dress up however she wanted to with her own family for Purim, but there were some things we couldn’t allow in school.

If I thought that would end the discussion, I was wrong. No matter what I said, Tzippy came up with something else to argue about.

I had a bigger issue to deal with than Purim costumes, though. Some other teachers and I were planning a thoughtful program for the girls about the influences we expose ourselves to, and developing our sensitivities.

If we even tried to bring up such topics in a room with Tzippy present, there wasn’t much chance of anyone gaining anything.

Mrs. Staller is the mechaneches in charge of the entire grade, so I asked her how she thought we should handle it.

“Tzippy will do her best to ruin the entire program. I think you should speak to her ahead of time and let her know it’s not a program she would appreciate, and she shouldn’t come. We won’t penalize her for missing it,” Mrs. Staller told me.

But I just couldn’t do that. No matter how much trouble Tzippy caused, I couldn’t tell her she wasn’t welcome at a school program. I got permission from Mrs. Staller to try another way.

There must be a way to bring out a better side in Tzippy, and I just have to figure out what it is.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 923)

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