Friday, June 26, 2015

Teacher as heroine

I HAVE THEORIES about the much maligned teachers and the public’s attitude toward them. Everyone’s been to school. Everyone knows the education system from personal experience—some of those positive, some negative. It’s easy then, to think you know what really goes on, to think you have every right to criticize, to tell teachers what they are doing wrong, and sometimes even what they’re doing right.
As a life-long educator, I’ve experienced the exhilaration of working with teens and the thanks and appreciation of many students and parents. Yes, there were negative moments, some of them brutal, but for the most part my career was a joyous one.
My instinct has always been to promote respect for teachers and the importance of a well-educated population. What better way than to make the heroine of my novels a school principal? Let the teacher meet the alien, have the fun, the adventure, the love affair. Yes, that was definitely the way to go.
And if writing about what you know is the way to go, then you can be assured that the school scenes are authentic. In fact readers who know me say they see me in various parts of my books. Not surprising I guess.
Here’s a school scene from EMBRACED:
“Miss D?” Curtis frowned. “You all right?”
Abby nodded. Another lie. She wasn’t all right. One minute enchanted and dreamy, the next trembling in terror. One minute loving the romance and impossibility of it, the next hysterical with the stark fear of tumbling into an insanity from which she would never recover. Curtis handed the pages to Tim and Lyle. She watched the boys hunched over the pages. And now I’m dragging you along with me. Oh Lord, I’ll rot in hell for this. Fortunately the enchantment overrode all else—most of the time. Or would fear be better, give her a way to break out of this black hole she was sinking into? Curtis was still frowning at her.
“Any luck decoding?” she asked to be polite. That Curtis and his friends might find something was a ludicrous expectation. She wished she’d never involved them. No. That wasn’t true. She was glad she wasn’t alone with the pages.
“Well …” Curtis looked from Lyle to Tim.
Lyle shrugged. Tim tapped the page of code he held in his hand and nodded. “It’s on every page.”
Curtis sighed. “We didn’t want to say anything too soon, but we’re pretty sure the code is a message.”
A message? Oh Lord, don’t tell me. Abby held up her hand, but Curtis chattered on.
“Look at this. See this pattern? It’s repeated over and over again. We’ve translated it.” Abby’s eyebrows rose. “What I mean is … well, we think … we think it means, ‘do it now.’” He blushed and sputtered to a stop.
“How on Earth do you figure that?” Abby tried to suppress the edge of panic creeping into her voice. And do what, for heaven’s sake? But she didn’t dare say that out loud.
“We don’t know for sure. It’s an educated guess.”
Not any education you got in my school, Abby thought wryly.
“We’ll keep working on it. Don’t worry.”
Don’t worry. Such simple words. So impossible to obey. Oh, Curtis, if you only knew.
“Do you want more drawings?” Abby asked and then kicked herself mentally. She needed to put a stop to this, not egg the boys on.
Curtis’ eyes lit up and he nodded eagerly.
Abby covered her face and moaned.

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