Deloris Dieter, affectionately known as Mrs. D by so many students she couldn’t possibly be expected to keep track of them all, thumped the stack of papers against the tabletop to even it out. She set the stack in her briefcase, and closed her grade book.
Another day’s job well done. She might not have a lot else to show for her life; no family like most of the other teachers, no awards or accolades like Mrs. Grant constantly received, no special talents like Jim the Jazzman, but she had the love and devotion of her students.
The school year would be ending in three weeks, and looked to be exactly as she’d expected. The smart kids were pulling A’s. The stupid ones, like Benjamin Hammaker, were pulling F’s. There was precious little between the two.
Gertie, the secretary from the principal’s office, took exception to Dolores’s grade curve. She’d actually had the nerve to sketch out a bell curve and suggest her grade spread should look like it. Even now, Deloris bristled at the condescension. As if she didn’t know what a bell curve looked like. Could she help it if her students never showed the respect of falling into one? Hardly.
Speaking of respect….
Deloris had her hands on either side of the open lid of her briefcase. The paper on top was Benjamin Hammaker. Lately she’d sensed not only a lack of respect from him, but a lack of respect from the student’s around him.
She could handle his disdain. One look at him with his narrow jaw, heavily-lashed over-sized eyes, and blue T-shirts, walking and talking just like her former step-son, and she’d known what kind of student she had on her hands. Why all the other teachers gave him good grades baffled her.
She’d sized him up and pegged him accurately the first day of class. What he thought of her didn’t matter. The other students were another matter. She’d seen the way they looked at her when she called on him in class. She knew they’d turn on her in an instant.
Deloris took Benjamin’s essay out of her briefcase. She’d only been able to find two spelling errors, but dozens of comma faults. However, it wasn’t the technical aspects of his paper that had produced this week’s F. It was his choice of topic.
City Skateboard Rules Unfair? It was no better than she might have expected of that Gene Thomas kid.
Now there was a thug in the making if she’d ever encountered one. She’d seen him in the hall, roughing up the smaller classmates. She knew what kind of boy he was, and he was even worse than her disrespectful stepson had been.
The last thing she needed was for Benjamin to start acting like Gene. Not that she’d ever seen any sign the two of them had anything to do with one another. At least, not since she’d changed the seating arrangements, putting Benjamin next to her desk and Gene as far away as possible.
But of course, that had nothing to do with the grades she gave Benjamin. She shoved the essay into the briefcase. The topic alone was reason for the F. Wasn’t it?
Except Lisa, Deloris’s best student, had made a comment the other day about how unjust the grades were, especially where Benjamin was concerned. Lisa would be watching.
Should she change the grade? Deloris actually considered it for a moment or two. Then sanity prevailed.
No. She must stick to her guns. It was the only way to control the rabid little idiots in her classroom. If she stepped back even for a moment, showed the least sign of weakness, they would be on her like a pack of jackals.
The grade would stand.
God help her if she ended up teaching him again next year.