At two twenty Joe was wondering who was more anxious for the day to end, him or the students. “We need to be wrapping things up here, peeps. If you have any papers that you haven’t turned in now is the time to get ‘em done, get ‘em in and get ready to head for home.”
When Joe had student taught under Jane Seijen at Wolcott Elementary in central Connecticut the end of the day routine had been more complicated than was East Side’s. When students were dismissed from Wolcott bussed students were dismissed over the school’s intercom system bus by bus. The West Hartford school was nestled in a large residential neighborhood and most of the students were within the one mile bussing limit; this was not true of East Side.
At Wolcott the busses were assigned colors to make life easier for the children. Though the Connecticut busses were all painted the traditional school bus yellow they were christened the red, orange, green and purple busses. Mrs. Marlys, the school secretary, directed the end of the day’s exits via the public address system in the office and teachers were directed when to allow students to leave. With this system it was essential that each classroom teacher listen for bus names to prevent children from missing their ride home. East Side’s system was easier.
East Side Elementary reversed the students’ school arrival system of the morning for the afternoons’ departures. Rather than dismissing students from the classroom directly to the waiting busses a la Wolcott the bussed children were dismissed en masse to wait in the school’s gymnasium. This queuing in the gym transferred responsibility from the teachers to the support staff whose specific function was to oversee bus departures, a far more sensible plan in Joe’s eyes.
When the clock’s minute hand was pointing straight down Mrs. Layer, the East Side school secretary’s voice came over the P.A. “Good afternoon, East Side elementary students, I hope you’ve all had an enriching and fun filled day.” Suzanne Layer sailed through various informational tid-bits including the lunch selections for the next day. She concluded by announcing, “Please don’t forget to remind your parents that we have a PTA meeting on Friday night and that all are welcome. We hope to see you there! Teachers, bus students may be dismissed.”
Before MS Layer had finished the word “may” students were talking excitedly as the scraped their chairs back away from their desks. “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Joe said in response, “The operative word in that sentence was may, not are. Please sit!”
“But Mrs. Layer said-”
“Katherine Miller, I heard what she said and you really need to learn classroom etiquette. Liz Bennett with her hand in the air! What’s up, buttercup?”
Liz pursed her lips, tilted her head to the side and looked at Joe through narrowed eyes. “Mr. Kleen, Mrs. Feldt lets the bus students go after Mrs. Layer makes the announcements.”
“Thanks, Lizzie. That’s my plan too. As soon as were ready. Show me you are ready by sitting quietly at your desks please.
“If you are a bus student and you think you are ready please raise your hand to show me that you’re ready for dismissal.”
“Katherine Miller is most definitely not ready. Rubin Hurricane Carter, you may gather up your belongings and head to the bus.”
Katherine exhaled loudly, raised her fists and shook them. Rubin Carter nodded repeatedly as he got up from his desk and as he walked by said to Joe, “Thanks, Mr. Kleen. It was cool today.”
“You’re welcome, Rubin. Don’t get in any fights, okay?”
Rubin broke into a smile as he exited the classroom and Trey Milks raised his hand. “Mr. Milks, you may go.”
“Oh. No,” he said, shaking his head to indicate that that was not what he was looking for. “Thanks. Mrs. Feldt usually has us line up to go down to the gym.”
“Good to know, maybe next time. Are you ready to go?”
“Uhm, yes, sir?”
Joe quickly dismissed bus children one by one by both calling their names and pointing to them. When the room was down to half a dozen students who were frantically waiving their hands in the air he asked, “If you can show me you are ready by sitting quietly I can dismiss you.”
Katherine harrumphed in response, let out a big exhale and raised her hand to its highest possible height. “Katherine Miller, uou are dismissed,” Joe said with a smile.
“About time,” she mumbled as she rose from her seat.
“Katherine Miller, please sit down.”
The remaining students’ eyes bulged in their heads and Joe said, “Please, please show me proper decorum and I can let you go.”
Other than Katherine the remaining students now sat quietly in their seats. “Katherine, I am about to dismiss every other bus student except you. Please don’t make me do that. All you need to do is act like a second grader. Are you ready?”
She did not respond verbally. Her nostrils flared and she nodded yes one time. “Remaining bus students,” Joe said quietly, “please get up from your seats without making any noise.” The students complied with this request. Joe stood along with them.
“Please walk to your cubbyholes in the same quiet fashion,” he added, following them to the door. After they had gathered their things he said, “You need to walk quietly to the gym. No running, no loud voices. It might be best if some of you don’t talk at all. I will be watching you as you go down the hall. Please do not make me have you come back to the classroom. You are dismissed,” he concluded.
Joe felt the venom that Katherine held for him. He was not pleased with how the two of them had interacted throughout the day and wondered what kind of parents allowed their child to run rough shod over everyone in her path. He was fairly certain that she had not seen him trembling in frustration.