DEATH IN THE FACULTY ROOM- CHAPTER XIV

We got out of Quantico at about ten in the morning and drove home. It took us about 5 hours again after stopping for lunch. When we arrived we did indeed find a bill on our kitchen table. We also found that we had moved into a home that could have been on the front cover of house beautiful. The rooms had all been painted, including the ones that we had painted ourselves. The carpeting was all new, there were pictures on the wall, the kitchen had all new fixtures and appliances. The bathrooms looked like something out of a fancy hotel. It looked like a model home. We were flabbergasted. We looked at the bill on the kitchen table. It was from some real estate management firm and the cost was $3,000. That topped it all, if all of the improvements that were made to our home cost $3,000, and then I would go into the remodeling business and make some tall money.
We unloaded our car and saw that the van with our other things had already deposited its load in our living room. This weekend was the one just before school began. Monday morning would see me go in for the first teacher day in preparation for the kids to come in on Wednesday. I had a great deal of work to do. Since Daphne was not working any more, she said that she would help me set up some lessons for the new third graders. She had some learning centers that she had created at her old school and said that I could use them. That would save me a bunch of time. Daphne was much more creative than I was. I envied her skill in that area.
On the other hand, I was a bit more content area oriented. My learning centers were quite different from hers. As I mentioned, I was more of a history, English, reading person and Daphne was more an art, music and creativity person. We were both satisfactory with math and science, but that was never our strong points.
Sunday was a blur to us both, getting things straightened out in our house (not that it was dirty, but just putting our things away in proper places). By the evening we were very tired and just about fell into bed.
I arose the next morning to the smell of coffee, French toast and orange juice. My good wife had gotten up early to send me off to work in a good mood. It really did work. I went directly to my room and began setting up for Wednesday. At 9:00 a.m. Mr. Ryerson called a faculty meeting. I dreaded his faculty meetings. They were mostly boring and inconsequential. I loved it when he had a speaker from somewhere else, or a presentation from one of our own. He began the meeting with his expectations for the year. We had heard it before and it never changed. This was my third year there and I could have rattled of the speech myself.
The departure came at the end of the meeting. Mr. Ryerson expounded on the deaths of Mr. Driggs and Miss Reinhold and what a tragedy it was. I could not shake the feeling that someone had told him to do it. His mechanical approach brought a cynical look from Mama Pags, a yawn from Sleepy James, a smirk from Jim O’Malley and a burp from Rolf Werthless. I could tell that they all felt the same way that I did. This was a put up job by someone in the administration.
Later that afternoon we were all shuttled to the central office of the Altherhold School District so that we could hear some inspiring words from Dr. Lawrence Brown, our school superintendent. If I thought that Mr. Ryerson was a cold codfish, then Dr. Brown was a piece of ice. He rattled of some greetings and launched into a papal bull that ended with this admonition, “If you think that the 30 kids in your class are smarter than you, then you should get out of education.” I thought, “I know that there are many more than one kid in my class that is smarter than me.” This guy has not been in the classroom since before they invented fire. Where was his brain? Had he even seen a classroom in the last twenty years? I knew that he never visited our building and if he did Mr. Ryerson would make it clear that he was interfering with learning.
The following day we all worked in our classroom. At lunchtime, we actually went out, like regular people, and ate at a local pizza place called Rizzo’s. It was in the Abington School District, but it was close to our elementary school. We drove in my car and met others there. We ordered some pies and cokes and settled down to discuss what was going on in our school.
Lots of folks wanted to know how the courses at UVA went. I tried not to lie too much and gave them just a few sentences about how hard they were and I was lucky to have gotten into their Master’s program. It would all be in the summertime and I would not have to pay the out of state rates for each of the courses. That seemed to satisfy their curiosity.
The conversation eventually got around to the two deaths. Sleepy James and Elder Angstadt were trying to recall when it was that Mr. Driggs had come into the school district. They both thought that it was in 1940. They had both been there at the time, but had been drafted into the service in 1942 until 1945. When they returned to their jobs, Driggs was still there and had not served in the military. He was probably too old if they calculated correctly. Since he was 65 when he died, he must have been about 40 in 1940. They both kind of looked at each other. Was Mr. Driggs really that old when he died? He did not seem to be. I would have thought that he was no more than 50 or so. That would have made him 25 in 1940.
The conversation drifted away at that point to Mr. Ryerson and Dr. Brown’s cold approach to the staff of the school district. All of us laughed at this statement about 30 kids being smarter than the teacher. We wondered if he felt the same way about the staff of the Atherhold School District?

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