8th Grade Intervention

March 7, 2013
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Bling! Bling! Bling!

“Hugh, another week of school to go,” I said to my best friend, “I hate Mondays”.

“There are only two more months until summer vacation, so just relax,” she replied.

While walking into the class, I could tell it wouldn’t be a usual day. The kids were running around, everyone was talking or playing. Most of the boys were standing on the desk, jumping from one to another. The girls were practicing their cheers. A few people were writing on the white boards. Someone was playing music on their phone. It was a jungle of a class, too chaotic to find out what was going on. I tried anyway.

“Hey where’s the teacher?”

“I don’t know I guess he isn’t here today.”

“Hey, Bob, where’s the teacher?”

“I heard he quit, so we don’t have a teacher,” he said as he rejoined the chaos.

Clunk! Clunk! Clunk!

It was the sound of the obvious footsteps walking down the hall. We all knew it was Ms.Kraase, the assistant principle, all her shoes made that sound.

Clunk! Clunk! Clunk!

“Hey, someone’s coming!”

We all ran to our seats and sat so quietly as if the chaos never occurred. The door knob quickly turned and in came a six foot tall, large man and Ms.Kraase by his side.

“Who do you think you are”, he exclaimed. “You will not celebrate when this man has quit his job because of your behavior! You will sit and be quiet. I will be your new teacher and we’re all going to learn a few things about life here. My name is Dr. Barrett and I’ll be your new teacher.”

Who is this man to have the audacity to come in here and speak to us in such a rude way? He does not know us. I won’t let him speak to me this way. It’s not our fault the teacher quit anyway, he couldn’t handle reality.

“We didn’t make him leave,” I started to explain.

“Did I ask you to speak, I don’t need an explanation,” he rudely interrupted.

He didn’t just speak to me like that! Oh, no, I know he didn’t.

I could do nothing but sit there. This man did not know us and he has never met us but he demanded respect. He did not even know my name. That Monday we did no class work and we had no homework. Instead, there was one long lecture for the day.

Bling! Bling! Bling! Bling!

Finally, the day was over.

“Man, I don’t know what just happened. I don’t know why the teacher quit. We are good students,” I said to my friend.

“I know, now we have to deal with this guy. He didn’t even try to be nice he expected us to just respect him without knowing him.”

The next day was a little different. We all walked in and expected another day of lectures from this stranger. Surprisingly, he stood at the classroom door waiting for all for the students to come in.

“Good morning class, today we are going to read from Genesis, chapter one.”

He began to read and tell us about God. Our usual devotion time was only thirty minutes but he didn’t stop until lunch time.

“What is with this guy,” I said to myself.

After lunch he announced there would no longer be recess. There would also be no more eating in the cafeteria for us. We would have to eat in the class. We were all beyond angry.

“But that’s our only free time of the day,” someone yelled.

“You can’t keep us in this room all day,” another person added.

He replied, “You are all eighth graders now, you don’t need recess.”

We all sat in silence and disbelief. We had no clue that the previous teacher was considering leaving the school. Now we had a drill sergeant of a teacher who gave no mercy to anyone in the class.

The next few days seemed all the same. We came to class, talked about the bible, had lunch in our class, then we did afternoon studies such as math and English. Everyday seemed like a punishment. One day, a few weeks after that first Monday, there was a change.

“Fill us with the light; fill us with the light of day.”

“Why are you singing in class,” asked Dr. Barrett.

“Oh, we are practicing for the Christmas program.”

“I didn’t know you girls sing.”

“Well yes but only for this program.”

“We should start a choir,” he suggested.

We all gave him wild looks. We weren’t singers. This was a onetime thing. He continued to persuade us. During free time he showed us videos of his past choirs at different schools and clubs. Eventually he got us to agree. We practiced twice a week, singing gospel songs. Dr. Barrett didn’t seem so bad after we got to know him. He was actually a pretty nice man. He allowed us to have recess back. He also told us stories about his past schools where he worked and he told good jokes.

“How come you were so mean on that first day you came to work here,” I asked, interrupting the group discussion the choir was having.
“Well you guys needed a wakeup call. You were all so loud when I walked into the class, screaming like a bunch of animals. Ms. Kraase told me about the class’s passed behavior, so I knew what I was walking into. As a teacher I hate to see students misguided and given up on. I did not want you kids to feel like you were abandoned. I took it as my duty to not give up on your class and work with you all as individuals. If I came in as a nice and quiet spoken person do you think you would have respected me?”

I realized the change that had occurred over the past short weeks. The class was not the same. We all learned something since the first day Dr. Barrett arrived. It may have saved us all from going down the wrong path. Throughout his time being at our school he taught us that all people should be respected as a human being, even if we are just meeting them. He told us that our grades were our responsibility and he prepared us for high school in so many ways.

On the last day of the school year we all were sad to say bye to him. The irony was that none of us wanted him here that first day and now we were all giving him hugs. The day of our eighth grade graduation I wanted to especially thank Dr. Barrett. He opened my eyes to the world and the reality around me. Without him I wouldn’t be the student or the person I am today. In such a short time he changed my life.

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