| Double Take |

The School of Hard Knocks

My daughter's boss was watching her drown at her first job

Rivky: My daughter dreamed of being a teacher. Why did you throw her to the wolves by giving her the worst class?
Shayna: Your daughter begged for this job, and she’s a grown-up. You’re not helping her by advising her to back away from a commitment.



Simi’s a born teacher — we’ve known that since she was six. Her favorite game back then was “school”: She used to spend hours playing Morah to her many dolls, as well as to her younger siblings (who, admittedly, weren’t always the best-behaved students). She loved teaching them Chumash and parshah, davening with them, marking attendance, and awarding points and prizes.

So it was really no surprise when she chose to apply for a teaching job just as soon as she was graduating seminary. It wasn’t so simple, though. There are several schools in our community, but teaching positions are notoriously hard to come by — especially for a girl without any experience.

Finally, she was offered a position as a permanent sub in one of the elementary schools. Although she’d had her heart set on teaching her own class, she was practical about her chances and decided to take what she could, and hoped she’d get a real teaching position in the future.

“They told me that when a teaching position opens up, the subs get first choice,” Simi explained. “And once I’m teaching, I can apply again to the other schools as well. I’ll be more likely to get in there with some experience. So it’s really the best option right now. But I told them how much I wanted to teach, you know, have my own class and everything. So hopefully when something comes up...”

I hoped so, for her sake. She really had so much to give.

“When will you get to meet the other teachers?” I asked. Bnos Shifra was on the other side of town, and I didn’t know anyone who worked there. But Simi was friendly and outgoing; she’d adjust easily.

“There’s going to be a staff meeting a day or two before the semester starts,” Simi said. “And I have a meeting that week as well, just me and Mrs. Cherns, the staff coordinator. She’s going to give me more information about the job.”

Simi had a pretty relaxing summer after that. Since she’d been hoping for a teaching job that would involve a lot of preparation, she hadn’t made too many plans for August. Now that she didn’t have anything to prepare for the school year, she had time to hang out with friends, go shopping, and best of all, stock the freezers with the results of baking marathons.

“See, Ma, there’s a silver lining in my subbing job,” she joked to me as she transferred oatmeal cookies onto a cooling rack. “I get to spend my summer baking. My friend Ruchie, who lives out of town — she’s teaching second grade next year. I barely get to speak to her, she’s so busy preparing.”

She was smiling, but I caught a wistfulness in her tone. She really wanted to teach. And honestly, she would be great with second-graders.

“Did you tell this Mrs. — Cherns, was it? — that you ran day camps for years, and that you really wanted a class of your own?” I asked.

“Are you kidding?” Simi said, half laughing. “Of course I did. She was really nice about it, and told me how the subbing can be a really good experience until a slot opens up... you know, see the different age groups, experiment a little.”

I could hear that. I did hope, though, that Simi would get her chance to prove herself in a real teaching capacity. She had so much to offer.

And then the chance came.

“Ma, where’s Simi? She promised to take me shopping today.”

I looked up from the computer, distracted. It was two days before school started (finally!), and the house was flying. “Simi? She had a meeting, sweetie. She’ll be home soon.”

“But she went hours ago!” Nechama whined.

I reviewed my AliExpress order and reached for the credit card to pay. “Hmm?”

“Simi went out at nine. It’s almost lunchtime! Why’s she taking so long?”

“Maybe the meeting took longer than she thought?” Even as I said this, I wondered. This was Simi’s individual meeting with the coordinator. How long could it take to discuss a substitute’s job role?

We didn’t wonder for too long. I had just served the little ones their lunch when the door burst open and Simi flew in, glowing.

“Ma! Guess what?” she blurted. “Last minute, there was an opening… someone had to leave… and they offered me the job! Teaching! I’m going to have my own class… I need to start preparing now!”

She was halfway up the stairs before I could find my voice. “Simi, wait, which grade is it?”

“Sixth,” she called back. “Going to start my lesson plans!”

“What about lunch?” I asked, but the bedroom door had already slammed. Oh, well.

“So, Simi got promoted,” I told Mayer later that night. “She’ll be teaching sixth grade.”

“That’s nice,” Mayer murmured. This sort of thing didn’t mean much to him. “What was she planning to do, again?”

“They didn’t have a teaching position open, originally. Only subbing. And just today, she got offered an actual class of her own! Apparently, one of the teachers had to leave or something. Imagine that, it’s two days before the start of the year… she doesn’t have much time to prepare.”

“Oh, she’ll be fine, Simi’s good with these things,” Mayer said comfortably. “Nice recipe, by the way.”

I smiled, but my mind was on my oldest daughter. “I think I’m going to take some up to Simi. She didn’t eat a thing yet.” My forehead creased. “Honestly, I’m excited for her, but I wish they’d told her a little earlier. She’s working crazy hard now, and she would’ve had the whole summer to get ready.”

Simi, when I mentioned this to her, immediately came to the school’s defense. “Oh, but Ma, they only just found out themselves! When I came in, Mrs. Cherns was on the phone for a while, and then she went to speak to the principal, and then she literally came back and told me that one of their teachers had to leave unexpectedly, and was I still interested in a teaching position… It was such Hashgachah that I was there!”

How convenient for the school, I found myself thinking, a little cynically. But then I caught myself. This was Simi’s dream job, who cared how it came about?

I quickly found out, though, that my misgivings were well-founded.

Simi left for school the first day on a high. She’d been preparing literally around the clock, excitedly showing me the name cards she’d prepared for each girl, the welcome activity, and story she’d carefully selected to introduce the theme of the year. She spent six hours straight decorating her new classroom, preparing each bulletin board to perfection. In record time, she’d dived into a brand-new curriculum, created resources, and prepared detailed, exciting lesson plans for the first few days of school.

That first morning, she left an hour early, “just to finish setting up.” As the hours passed, I thought of her, hoping it was going as well as she’d hoped. I found it almost as nerve-racking as sending her to school for the first time.

When the door finally opened, hours later, I dropped what I was doing to greet my daughter. Simi looked exhausted. She mustered up a small smile when I asked her how it was.

“Okay, I guess,” she said slowly. “I mean… harder than I thought. There were a few girls who kind of messed around, talked out of turn… I didn’t really expect that on the first day. But the others liked me, I think, and the game was really successful. They liked the story too. I just…” She shook her head. “I hope I can figure out what to do with those girls, they really were a bit… chutzpahdig.”

“Why don’t you ask your supervisor? Mrs. Cherns, is it?” I suggested. “I’m sure she has lots of experience and can help you out.”

Simi shook her head. “No, I don’t want her to regret giving me the teaching job. What I really want to do is speak to their teacher from last year. But she’s left the school now, I think she was offered another job. Whatever. I’ll see how it goes. Hopefully when I get to know them better, it will be easier.”

I stared after her as she headed to her room, the bounce gone from her step. I just hoped she was right.

It didn’t get easier, though. The troublemakers in Simi’s class seemed determined to make her life miserable. Not only that, but they were the leaders in the class, the popular girls, and pretty soon others were following their lead. Nothing terrible — or so Simi insisted — and she said that some days were better than others, they’re just typical kids, they enjoy playing around. But the fact was, I saw my daughter wilting before my eyes.

Gone was the excitement of going to teach. She still spent hours diligently preparing, talking through her ideas, making her lessons as fun and exciting as possible. Sometimes, it helped. When Simi discovered that the misbehaving crew loved putting on shows, she turned an entire parshah class into a skit for them to perform. But other times, no matter how hard she tried, the group was disinterested, talking out of turn, or even completely ignoring her.

She didn’t tell me much, Simi, but I saw enough. I saw her coming home, exhausted and dejected. I saw her pretend to smile at me and her siblings, but her eyes told a different story. Once or twice, after particularly challenging days, I even saw her cry.

“You need to speak to someone,” I insisted. “Mrs. Cherns, or the principal. They should help you out, punish the girls who are misbehaving.”

“I did speak to them,” Simi sniffled, several weeks into the year. “I asked some of the other teachers, as well. I wanted to know if it was normal, to have this kind of thing. Like, am I a terrible teacher? I never had a problem when I ran the day camp.” She swiped at her eyes, leaving a sorry streak of mascara across one cheek. “You know what they said? One of the other teachers told me that no one wants to teach this class because of the clique that’s being impossible. Last year’s teacher quit on them. This year, when the teacher backed out at the last minute, no one on the staff agreed to take her place. That’s why it was open. It’s the hardest class in the school, they said.”

I was shocked. “So this class is known for misbehavior?” I asked. “I— that’s crazy, Simi. Why didn’t they tell you up front?”

She shrugged. “I mean, they told me teaching isn’t easy, and do I feel up to the challenge,” she said. “I said of course, but I didn’t know it was such a hard class! I mean, I’ve never taught before!”

“It doesn’t sound fair, throwing you in the deep end like that,” I said slowly. “Did you speak to them? Ask what they think you should do with the troublemakers?”

“Yeah,” Simi said, her breath catching as she gradually came back to herself. “Mrs. Cherns said she would speak to the girls. I dunno, I didn’t see much difference. And Rabbi Speiser — the principal — he gave me a whole encouraging speech, he kept saying he’ll give me his full support and everything, and the school will back me up and stuff. But then he didn’t even do anything! He comes past the classroom every so often, looks in the window, and everyone goes quiet. Big deal. As soon as he leaves, they start up again. I wish he’d sit in on the lessons, then he’d see what happens!”

“But if he were there, surely the girls wouldn’t act up,” I pointed out.

Simi gave a ghost of a smile. “I wouldn’t say no to that, to be honest.” She cupped her chin in her hands and stared into the distance. “I didn’t think teaching would be like this. I mean… I don’t think it’s me, I think it’s the girls, but like, maybe teaching’s just not for me? I just don’t have the energy anymore, to work so hard preparing lessons, and half the time we don’t even get through the material.”

She sounded so dejected, I stopped what I was doing to come over and give her a hug.

“Of course you’re a good teacher,” I told her fervently. “It’s not you. You know that, the other teachers even told you, it’s this chevreh in the class. And if you can’t manage, and the school isn’t helping you, then you can leave the job. You need to do what’s best for you.”

“Ma, I’m not going to quit,” Simi said, wrinkling her nose. “I mean, it’s only a few weeks into the year. Maybe it will get easier…” She remembered something. “Actually, Mrs. Cherns has been promising me a classroom assistant. I think that will make a difference, I can send some of the girls out for a private lesson with her, or just be around the classroom to help out… I’m going to ask her again tomorrow.”

When she asked, though, the staff coordinator was vague about it.

“She said they’re short-staffed now, but she hasn’t forgotten,” Simi reported glumly. “For now, because I’m having such a hard time, she’s asked the fifth-grade assistant to come to me as well. Which is ridiculous, because this girl is already dividing her time between both fifth grades, and we’re in a totally different area of the school. The fifth-grade teachers have a whole system with her — she does their photocopying, prepares all the art projects and stuff, and she takes out groups of girls for one-on-one lessons… so she ends up coming to me for a few minutes here and there, usually right before recess.”

“That can’t be very helpful for you,” I remarked sympathetically. “Honestly, Simi, I think you should look for another job.”

“I can’t,” Simi said. “I tried asking Mrs. Cherns if they have a replacement, I told her that it’s really hard and I was thinking of leaving… but she just told me that they really needed me on the job. She said I was doing well, it’s normal for first-year teachers to have a hard time. She even told me about her own experiences as a first year teacher.” Simi smiled wryly. “I’m not sure I believe her, to be honest. She’s so amazing with the girls. They’re, like, silent whenever she walks in, and they literally eat out of her hands. But anyway, she was really insisting that I need to stay, the girls need me, they don’t have anyone else to take this class…”

“But that’s ridiculous,” I said. “They asked you two days before the school year. What would they have done if you’d said no?”

Simi shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess now that the year’s started, it’s even harder to find someone? Whatever, she just made me feel really guilty to stop in the middle of the year. I don’t want to let people down if they’re relying on me. She was really upset that I was thinking of it. I just want to do the right thing, you know?”

I looked at my daughter, and something inside me snapped. She had dark shadows under her eyes, and… was it my imagination, or had she really lost a lot of weight since September?

“The right thing to do is to take care of your health,” I told her firmly. “And no one can force you to stay in a situation that’s harmful to you. I know they have the students in mind, but someone has to take care of you — and if they’re not stepping up, I will. I’m telling you, Simi, enough is enough. If you want to leave the job, no one has a right to stop you.”

If I could tell Mrs. Cherns one thing, it would be: As a mother, I need to stand up for my daughter’s welfare — and this job is robbing her of her health and happiness.




Ten years ago, things were different. Forget it, five years ago things were different. People took responsibility. People worked hard. People realized that achieving good results can take time, and they were prepared to put in the effort to get those results.

Nowadays, I don’t know if it’s the chinuch or the system or the technology or the influences of the world out there, but something’s gone. Grit, motivation, self-discipline, I don’t know. But it’s like the younger generation is missing a certain resilience, they can’t handle anything. It’s all about differentiation, make every test catered to each child so they receive 100 percent, so that no one has to, chas v’shalom, work hard.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against differentiated teaching and testing, where necessary. Just the opposite — it’s one of the best advances of the modern educational system, allowing students to access the teaching at their own level, making success possible for every single child.

But making success possible shouldn’t mean making it inevitable.

I see it all the time as a mechaneches, or even just out on the street, watching parents and children. Everything has to be easy. There are no expectations, no demands. No standing back and saying to the child, “Hey, I know it’s tough, but you can handle it.” No allowing our children to actually work hard, push themselves, to achieve something.

As soon as the child says I can’t, the parents are ready to swoop in and save them.

There’s a fine line between good hard and too hard, and of course, having impossible expectations of our students or children leads to disaster. But to set a goal and step back, let them sweat a little and figure out how to achieve it — that’s good hard. That leaves a child feeling like a million dollars. They’ve overcome something.

But too many parents can’t do it. They simply rush in to save the child at the first sign of a struggle, and cheat them out of an invaluable learning and growing experience.

That’s what happened with Simi Markowitz.

I liked Simi, I really did. She made a great impression when I interviewed her — upbeat, energetic, willing. She loved kids and had a real desire to be a teacher, and with her positivity and dynamic character, I was sure she could make it in this field.

Still, I didn’t offer her a classroom position right away. Firstly, because there weren’t any openings for September, and secondly, because we generally exercise a policy to have our new young hires begin as teaching assistants or permanent subs, giving them a chance to build up some experience and observe other teachers in action, before jumping in to teach a class of their own.

Simi was a little disappointed at that. “Are you sure there’s nothing available?” she asked. “I’m just — I always dreamed of teaching… and I have lots of experience with kids. I ran a day camp for a few years, and I’d just love to have a class of my own. Second, third grade…”

I smiled slightly. I understood her; she reminded me of myself at 18 years old, all geared up to take on the world.

“I think you’ll make a great teacher, Simi, and I’ll keep you in mind when we have an opening,” I said. “In the meantime, if you do take this substitute job, it will give you a lot of experience. Get to know the different classes, which age group you like, how the school works… It will only make things easier to start teaching with some more experience.”

I really believed in that. Anyone who works in a school knows that first-year teaching is an experience like no other — and generally not a fun one. But having spent time in the classroom and getting a feel for the job definitely makes things easier. I was hopeful for Simi that she would find the initiation helpful, and soon enough she’d receive her own class and get a chance to teach “for real.”

Then her chance came — much sooner than we expected.

“I’m so sorry to do this to you,” Sarah Mann said into the phone, her voice full of remorse. “I know it’s so close to the start of the year, and I feel terrible…”

“Please don’t worry, this is not your fault,” I told her, even as my mind raced. Who on earth could we recruit at such short notice? Sixth grade can be a tough age in any case, and this class in particular… “You just take care of yourself, and feel good. We’ll take care of finding a new teacher.”

When the call ended, I went straight to speak to Rabbi Speiser. With Mrs. Mann unexpectedly out of action for a good portion of the year, the sixth grade needed a teacher — and a good one.

“We may have to find a substitute for the time being, until we find a long-term candidate,” Rabbi Speiser said, sighing. It wasn’t the best option at all, especially for this class — which was notorious for giving their own teachers a hard time, let alone subs.

The word substitute, though, made me think of something.

“I have an idea,” I told Rabbi Speiser slowly. “It’s a girl I hired recently as a permanent sub. Miss Markowitz, her name is, Simi Markowitz. We’re actually supposed to be meeting right now, she’s waiting downstairs. I know she’s not experienced, and she is young, but she’s very eager to teach, and I — I think she has it in her.”

Rabbi Speiser gave a decisive nod. “Then let’s give her a chance to try it. Please tell her that although it might be hard at first, we’ll give her our full support.”

Simi was — to put it in a word — overjoyed.

“Oh, wow, thank you! I can’t believe it, that’s amazing!” she said. “Of course I want to do it. Wow, I really appreciate that. Sure, I’ll come to you if I need anything… but really, I’m just so excited. I always wanted to teach, and I definitely prefer a class of my own than a substitute job.”

I smiled at her enthusiasm, and hoped she wasn’t in for a rude awakening when she actually stepped into the classroom. I spent some time reviewing things with her — protocols and procedures, showing her the school’s lesson-planning grids, giving her files with the various curriculums and resources. I also went through the class list with her, and gave some pointers on handling various students, but I could tell she wasn’t really listening to that part.

“I think I would rather get to know them for myself, you know what I mean?” she said seriously.

“Of course, but feel free to come back to me if you want some tips. Sixth grade can be a challenging year, and this class has some real characters in it.”

“I like character,” Simi said. “I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

In the face of her confidence, my spirits lifted. Maybe a fun, young, dynamic teacher was just what this class needed. They’d had a rough year or two, and had earned themselves a bit of a negative reputation in the school. A fresh start might do them a world of good.

On the first day of school, I made a point of walking past Simi’s classroom a few times. It looked pretty okay. At one point, there was an outburst of noise, and I popped my head in, but Simi signaled that she’d allowed the girls to work with their friends, so I left it at that.

Over the next few days, though, it seemed like things deteriorated a little. Simi sent a girl out of class for misbehavior. Then another girl. Eventually, she told me that she was struggling with discipline, specifically with the group of class leaders.

I gave her some pointers and told her to come back in a few days so we could discuss it further. Classroom management isn’t something anyone learns overnight, and I reassured her that struggling as a first-year teacher was completely normal.

“In fact, I remember walking out of class crying a few times, in my first year on the job,” I reminisced.

Simi gave a wan smile. “I guess I’ll keep trying. I did speak to one of the girls, and she seemed to be behaving a bit better…”

“That’s great,” I encouraged her. “One step at a time. You’ll get there.”

I really believed she would. She had so much going for her as a teacher. It was just a matter of working through the bumps and developing her teaching and classroom management style. By next year, I predicted, she’d be confident and comfortable in her role — and able to enjoy the teaching experience she’d dreamed of.

After a particularly hard day, she confided in me that she was thinking of leaving.

“I just don’t think I’m cut out for this,” she said. “I just… I work so hard to prepare lessons, and they don’t seem interested at all. I walk in every day all nervous if they’re gonna be acting up. It’s not what I thought it would be.”

I took a deep breath. “Simi, I know it’s been hard, but you’re doing great,” I told her sincerely. “It’s a normal process for a new teacher, to try out different things, get a feel for the class, learn what works. Please don’t give up now — for your sake, and for the class. Think about how disruptive it would be for them to have to have a new teacher in the middle of the year.”

It wasn’t strictly about the class, either. As a member of the school’s administration, I knew just what a problem it would be if Simi did quit midyear. New teacher, substitutes, loss of learning time, loss of structure. The parents would complain, the students would act up, it would set them back a mile in the curriculum. And besides, it would be no good for them to realize that they’d gotten the better of their teacher with their difficult behavior.

I gave Simi some more encouragement, reminded her that she could come to me whenever she wanted to talk things through, and made a note to discuss the situation with Rabbi Speiser. Maybe we could sit in on some classes, offer even more support. Although Rabbi Speiser generally didn’t like that — he felt that it undermined the teacher more than helping her — maybe in this case, Simi would appreciate the support and the chance to simply teach, unhindered by misbehavior.

And then one evening I got a phone call from her.

It was a few days after I’d spoken to Simi last, and things seemed to have settled a bit, so I hadn’t checked in with her again. Besides, we were a large school, there was always a crisis or mini-crisis brewing, so I’d simply been busy. I’d assumed if things were too bad, Simi would come back to me — and since she hadn’t, I’d allowed myself to hope that they’d settled a little.

According to what she said on the phone, though, things had not settled at all. And she was ready to throw in the towel — right here, right now.

“Just a minute, Simi,” I asked slowly. “Did something… happen? Was there a specific incident today?”

What on earth had set this off now?

She stammered a little. “N-no, nothing in particular. I mean, just regular hard. But that’s the thing…” Here she seemed to warm to her theme. “It shouldn’t be so hard. I shouldn’t be coming home exhausted and with zero interest in coming back tomorrow. I spoke to my mother. We agreed that the right thing to do is to leave. It’s not the environment for me.”

O-kay. If the mother was encouraging this, there was nothing to talk about. And yet, this really should have been a discussion. After all, no one forced Simi into the job. She begged for it. And having her quit now, in the name of taking care of herself, would throw the school into turmoil.

“I know it’s been hard, Simi,” I said carefully. “You have great skills as a teacher, and you should know you’re doing really well in a challenging situation. I really am hoping we can work things out together so you can keep the job.” I tried to word it delicately. “How about you come in to my office tomorrow and we discuss how we can support you better?”

There was a rustle at the other end of the phone, and I had a funny feeling I was put on speaker, so the mother could hear. Ouch.

“But… I mean, we’ve spoken about it a few times,” Simi said. “Like, about the assistant… and also, I wanted Rabbi Speiser to speak to the girls who are acting up… but it’s been two months, and things haven’t really changed.”

I begged to differ. I thought Simi herself was changing. Yes, it was hard, and yes, it may not have been the fun that she imagined teaching would be, but she was slowly trying new things, figuring out the ropes, and even developing a relationship with the class. It would just take time to get it down pat, maybe a few months, maybe a year, maybe more — even experienced teachers struggle sometimes.

But it’s the only way to make it in education. There are no quick fixes to becoming an expert classroom teacher.

Simi, though, wanted a quick fix — or she wanted out.

“Of course, we’re doing whatever we can,” I reassured her. “These things take time, though, and in general, our policy is that it’s best for the teachers themselves to figure out their own discipline methods, instead of leaning too much on the management. It’s just to help you have your own authority in the classroom. When we need to, we step in, but we’d rather support you in other ways.

“And please feel free to reach out for anything, we really try to be here for all our teachers, especially the new ones,” I added, thinking of all the private meetings I’d had with Simi, the classroom management tips I’d given her, and the books I’d lent her to read. I’d mentored many first-year teachers over the years, some of whom struggled a lot more than Simi. With enough determination, they all pulled through — and some of them were the best teachers we had now.

There was a murmur in the background, an insistent voice. I wished the mother would take a different approach: encourage her daughter to keep trying, keep her eye on a long-term goal, try out different things. Let us help her in the ways that we could, and realize that Rome isn’t built in a day and most worthwhile things come with struggle.

“I get it, but I still think I need to leave the job,” Simi said. She sounded apologetic. “I really appreciate that you gave it to me, but honestly, I didn’t realize what it would entail, and how hard it would be… and my parents think it’s not good for me to stay in this environment.”

So your parents are rushing in to save you, instead of allowing you to take responsibility and step up to the plate a little.

“Let’s think about the long run,” I said, choosing my words carefully. “You do want to be a teacher, don’t you? I’ve seen your lesson plans, and I also see how you are managing to win over the girls, even though it’s a slow process. You have the potential, you really do. So we’re talking about a matter of time, a few months, a year, of learning how to handle different things in the classroom. If you leave now, aside from the inconvenience and the disappointment it will cause for all of us, it’s letting yourself down. Everyone has a first year, and once you make it through that, you’ll see, it gets much easier.”

“But the other teachers told me it’s not usual. They said I got the toughest class in the school,” Simi said. Her voice was accusing.

I sighed. “There is a challenging group of girls in that class, yes,” I said. “But you should know that other teachers have it challenging, too. We have one class that’s extremely weak academically, but there are a few super bright girls who are bored by the lessons — the teacher is always struggling to prepare her lessons to interest and reach every girl in the class. We have another class that behaves beautifully for the teachers, but has the most horrible social politics — girls are literally in tears every single recess, and the teacher is the one who has to deal with the fallout.

“So yes, your class has a certain group with challenging classroom behavior, but that’s something that’s not too hard to work on. You’ll learn on the job, we’ll give you the support that we can, and you’ll grow into a fabulous teacher, b’ezras Hashem.”

Simi was quiet.

“Besides,” I added, to drive the point home. “A job is a commitment. The parents, the students, the school, we all rely on you to do your best to make it work.”

And not only that, I wanted to say, but let’s remember who was the one who begged for this job. She was the one who asked to be a classroom teacher, not an assistant or a sub. She wanted the job, and she really could make it work, if only her mother weren’t encouraging her to give up after a rough start to the year.

There was a long silence. Then Simi spoke again, a note of finality in her tone. “I’m sorry it’s going to be difficult for you,” she said. “But this job… it’s just not working out for me right now.”

Another murmur in the background.

Who was I kidding? Why was I even trying? I was going to get nowhere with Simi if her mother kept encouraging her to bail on us.

If I could tell Simi’s mother one thing, it would be: Your daughter’s an adult who made a commitment — let her take responsibility and work through it instead of encouraging her to run away and let so many people down. 


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 882)

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