It's Back

It may come as a surprise to those unacquainted with the system that the Army takes into no consideration the need of employment for military spouses in its timing of orders. Let me tell you about it.

We arrived in Germany at the end of September, too late for this diehard teacher to be employed. The woods were full of other spouses in my predicament to the point that the schools could, and did, require even substitutes to be qualified to teach their appointed grade or subject. Only one fulltime job came open during that year. With twenty-five qualified applicants, I felt honored to make the final four, even though I did not get the job. Knowing that I needed to be in a classroom for my own satisfaction and having heard that subbing was a foot in the door for next year’s placements, I signed up.

One of my first gigs was a week or so in my daughter’s fifth grade classroom. I wondered how she would handle this, but I was not to worry long. Two girls tried out the new sub before the first recess. Let’s just say I drew a deep line in the sand. They cornered Anna before she was far out the door, “Your mama’s mean.”

Unmoved, Anna replied, “She wouldn’t be if you didn’t make her.”

Having lost their battle with both Anna and me, they settled down and became part of a class that was a joy. They reminded me, in case I had forgotten, that Mrs. San Filippo had a read-aloud started. They expected the routine continued after lunch every day. Fine by me. The book was The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill.

The close of each chapter left them begging for more. Inclined in the same direction, I promised an extra chapter if all work was completed in time to read before the buses ran. You wouldn’t believe how those fifth graders stayed on task!

The problem came in explaining to Mrs. San Filippo when she returned why she didn’t have at least a week left on the book. The librarian resolved the issue by recommending another book chosen especially for that teacher and that class.

I was excited to see in the latest Horn Book Magazine that The Pushcart War has a fiftieth anniversary edition coming out. I do think I’ll have to have a copy – and maybe find a fifth grader to share it with.

Oh, yes, that foot-in-the-door thing? The next year that same librarian recommended read-aloud books chosen especially for this teacher and her second graders.