“Well, now you don’t have to,” the special education teacher said with a big smile. “Pretty freaky that you ran into Chantelle Friday, she called me Saturday and then Sunday morning who do I bump into but Becky Feldt in need of a substitute today. Badda bing, badda bang, badda boom. I’m really glad that worked out.”
“Me, too. I’d hate to think I got an education degree just to work on bikes.”
“Oh, that’s right! Chantelle said you worked with her ‘friend’ Frankie,” Nick said, accenting friend with air quotes. “So, what? The bike store just up the street?”
“Not quite. Frankie and I work at the Dunwoody location. I haven’t been in this one.”
“It’s okay. I live close by and take my bike there. A Bianchi Volpe? Kind of a road bile on steroids. Meatier tires. Anyway, I’m glad you got a chance to check out the school in a regular ed class before jumping into my room. Sometimes the BD room can be a bit intimidating. Have you had much experience with special ed, Joe?”
“Practically none. I thought about specializing in special ed but my dad kind of talked me out of it. He’s the principal of the high school I attended back in Connecticut and he asked me if I really wanted to push M&M’s for a living. No offense.”
“None taken. I don’t do that kind of special ed. The behavior disorder rooms aren’t for kids with low IQ’s, they’re for kids who have trouble controlling themselves. It can be a challenge, especially with the fourth and fifth graders. I’ve got one kid who’s practically your size and when he forgets his meds life can be, shall we say, fascinating? I have seven students in my room most of the day, the K through third teacher has eight and we split six associate teachers between us. Once the kids get to know and trust you it can be very rewarding.”
“Huh. It sounds it. Chantelle said you have a hard time getting subs?”
“Me and Dawn both. Dawn Dixon, that’s the K three teacher. A lot of people don’t like to branch out and stretch their wings.
“Speaking of which. Jill had a pretty good report about you today.”
“Jill Kinkel? The gal from my room you had recess duty with after lunch? Said something about getting two boys to stop throwing mulch at each other without hollering at them or making ‘em go sit on that dag-gone line.”
“Oh! Jill! Sure. The one with the little boy, right? She saw that?”
“Believe me, Joe, folks were watching you all day. First time in our school, a man and a Yankee to boot? Lot of mother hens watching to make sure you didn’t ruffle any feathers.”
“Well, I think I failed there. Do you know Katherine Miller?”
“Oh, Lord. Who doesn’t? Every year since kindergarten her teachers have suggested she spend a little time in Dawn’s room and every year the Millers nix the idea. No BD, no IEP. ‘Stigmatizing.’ I’ve never taught the girl but I’ve seen enough of her and her family to agree that she could use a little help. IEP would be great but I really doubt she belongs in Dawn’s room.”
“IEP,” Joe said slowly. “Oh! Individualized education plan. We used a different term in Connecticut.”
“I swear, some of the teachers around here just want miniature adults in their rooms. Kids need room to grow and learn and some of them have impulse control issues. Dawn and I have about two dozen kids between us that we help out with and most of their teachers would love to have them spend all their time in the BD room.
“We do our best but the last thing a kid with a behavior disorder needs is to have only other kids with behavior disorders as their sole role models,” Nick continued. “Plus the regular ed kids need to learn that the world is full of all kinds and that different isn’t always bad. Sorry. Sore subject.
“So what do you think? Willing to give BD a chance?”
“Sure,” Joe said immediately. “If you think I’m a good candidate.”
“Well, I do. And so does Jill and so does Chantelle. You spend much time with Chantelle?”
“Hardly any. She calls the store, I answer the phone, we chat for a second and then I transfer her to Frankie.”
“Frankie. Yeah. He and Chantelle met when we were on the skids. He moved in pretty fast. Not literally, of course. At least as far as I know.”
“Uhm, he hasn’t mentioned anything. Rachel Potthof said she’s done some plays with you?”
“Nice segue. Smooth. Just kidding! I get it. Yeah, I’ve done a few shows with her. What? Did she hit you up for, ‘Comedy of Errors’?”
“And asked if I thought my wife would be interested. Said you and Lisa were auditioning?”
“Lisa Powell? Yeah, I think she is. I’m planning to. I’ve worked with George before but I’ve never done Shakespeare. What was that I just got through saying? A lot of people don’t like to branch out and stretch their wings? I think maybe it’s time for me to try Shakespeare. Anyway, I’ve got your number and if I need a sub I can call you? I know I’ve got an in service day coming up next month I’ll need a sub for.”
“Please do. And let me know the date for the in service so I can ask off at work. I got the impression that 20 hours of advance notice wasn’t exactly what my boss figured on when he said I could sub.
“I think I will audition. Are you going to go Sunday night or Monday? And I’m sorry, who’s George?”
“George Bailey? He’s the director. And I’ll probably go Sunday. I like to audition when I’m fresh.”
“Oh, sure! Rachel told me that. Okay. I’ll go Sunday, too. See you there.”
“Yeah. I’ll get powder puff Powell to go too. We can audition together. I’ll see you then.”