Meet Mr. Teacher. He teaches 3rd grade, somewhere in East Dallas. That's Big D. In Texas. He's got students named Pilar, Marvin and...
...Lucifer. Well, that's only when her head is spinning & vitriol is spewing from all angles.
Engineer John Pearson (aka Mr. T) graduated from Duke & invested almost 4 years in his chosen career. But then the economy started to go down the drain and John met that nasty little invitation called the Pink Slip.
But he had a backup plan. And it involved teaching math to 3rd-graders in Inner City Dallas.
Mr. Teacher chronicles the ups, the downs, the bathroom breaks, the field trips, and, yes, the dreaded TAKS tests in his fun and even funnier, Learn Me Good.
(As an aside, TAKS stands for Texas Assessment of Knowledge & Skills. This native Dallasite-yes, Mrs Scribe herself is a product of the Dallas Independent School District-thinks the test's name is slightly oxymoronic, but what do I know?)
I know that if I had a 3rd-grader registered in the DISD, I'd send her to Mr. Teacher's class. His hilarious account of his first year in the classroom will tug at your heartstrings, make you scratch your head more than once, and even send you into peals of gut-wrenching laughter late at nite, when you're reading in bed & the Hubz is trying to catch some shut-eye.
Contained in these often humorous, sometimes serious, light and easy 209 pages are the anecdotes all teachers come to know: The child who blurts out all the wrong answers, thinking that the louder he is, the more correct he will be; the child who knows a little too much a little too early about the Birds & the Bees (although in Mr. Teacher's case, that child is an 8-year-old, and she performs a provocative pole dance at the end of the line one day); the child who will never learn her multiplication tables, but keeps trying, anyway.
But Mr. Teacher's Cherubs are also those who started life a little behind & are forever playing catch-up. Many of them move thru a single school year like those candies on Lucy Ricardo's assembly line, and if Mr. Teacher doesn't catch them quick, they'll fall off the belt.
He writes about kids who enroll in October, only to leave the school in November; students whose parents have no phones (Mr. Teacher & his co-teacher make "house calls" at the apartments of those kids, meeting with the parents face-to-face); one girl whose uncle reeks so badly of smoke (turns out to be reefer) that he has a difficult time standing, much less speaking.
I really enjoyed Learn Me Good's format, as well. Each vignette is written as an e-mail to a former engineering co-worker. Each of Mr. Teacher's "posts" smacks slightly of sarcasm & often of silliness. At the same time he imparts an important message: Clichés aside, a hard-working teacher who cares about his students can make a difference.