New construction and bad decisions brought an early end to the shop and special ed teachers' school year. With a week to go, both already knew their contracts would not be renewed according to their now-retired principal.
“The shop teacher had a good first year. The students liked him. They related well, but the second year, he got into drugs, and his personal life began affecting him in the classroom,” the principal said.
On the fateful day, jack hammers pounded above the wood shop near the ceiling hole construction workers had made. The loud, annoying sound interrupted class. School administrators had frequently reminded the subcontractors to wait until a class finished. When they forgot again, “All the teacher had to do was say, ‘you can't do this right now. It is too much noise,’” the principal observed.
The frustrated shop teacher grabbed a 1-inch-by-1-inch-by-14-foot- long piece of wood and thrust it into the hole, hitting the guy with the jack hammer. That action mandated a mandatory expulsion. The principal contacted the district and got permission to send him home for the last week.
“I went to tell him. He said, 'I won't leave without my boat. I made that boat,'” indicating a partly finished boat.
“The boat had about $800 to $900 worth of materials and supplies in it. We were not going to give him the boat made with his students using supplies bought by the school district. He would not leave without it. We had to get the police to come and get him to leave.”
Looking back, The principal mused, “We should have let him have the boat. The next shop teacher didn't want to finish it, and it just took up space for years.”
That same day, the special ed teacher took her students outside to freshly poured cement and told them to take off their socks and shoes and walk through it.
“The students were smart enough to refuse. But she took off her socks and shoes and walked through the cement,” he said, recalling the last of her many erratic behaviors that year.
“We got her paperwork ready to send her home for the rest of the year.”
“I said, 'Sign this, and then we are sending you home.'”
“I won't sign it,” she announced.
“You need to give me your keys,” the principal stated
“I'm not doing it.”
“We can do this the hard way or the easy way. I don't need our signature. It's for your protection. You do get your pay for the rest of the year.”
She said she had carpooled to school and didn't have a car. Then, she asked to borrow the carpool driver's keys in order to get something from his car.
He loaned her the keys. She drove away. Said she was not returning and refused to talk on the cell phone with the principal or his assistant. She did talk with a security guard who said, “What you are doing is theft. Bring it back, we will get you a ride home.”
“No, you come pick up the car. I won't tell you where it is. When you get to the first exit, call, and I will tell you where to go.”
The guard drove to the exit. She told him the next place. He drove there. She said the car and keys would be at a convenience store. That was the end of it.”
“I worked in administration 21 years and the two weirdest things happened the same day,” the principal said, shaking his head at the memory.
Joan Hershberger is a retired journalist who lives in Parkers Chapel with her husband. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.