The Many Lives and Times of Sam Saturday: Teacher of the Year

April 5, 2006

Middleton High had never seen a teacher like Samantha before. Her students excelled above and beyond all others, and were actually inspired to do something with thier lives. Her classes were well known, and had single-handedly won more recognition for the school than all others combined. In her seventh year of teaching, the school awarded her the title of Teacher of the Year. They had, in fact, invented it for the sole purpose of honoring what she had accomplished.

Despite her success, she was known as a cool and solitary young woman (she was only 28.) Her students were engaged by her teaching, but only spoke with her inside the classroom, and never referred to her as anything other than Ms. Saturday. The PTA could have cared less about anything other than the success she had with their children. The rest of the faculty, despite being secretly envious of her, were always cautiously polite around her – they were, in fact, scared of her.

Her secret, which no one even guessed at, was that she hated children.

You see, her first few years of teaching were different. The willful ignorance, the petty bureaucracy, the bitter politics – it dashed her hopes and dreams. She couldn’t reach the students, she couldn’t make them care. Slowly, bit by bit, her spirit was crushed. One day she accepted the hatefulness and futility of life – and that was when she was inspired.

She spent that summer studying psychology and how to communicate. How to make those children pay attention. How to make them realize the burning need to learn.

And she succeeded. Her children are touched by her lectures. They find fields of study to invest in. They will leave school, go through college, and become successful lawyers, and doctors. Clerks, programmers, engineers. Professionals.

And one day they, too, would know the grim despair of the work force. Of disillusionment with their dreams, their lives, and their accomplishments. When Johnny becomes a lawyer and realizes he managed to get a guilty man off scot-free… when Susan works too many shifts in the ER and botches an emergency operation… when Alan has to design a bridge with substandard materials to help the company cut costs… that is when she knows they will feel the same icy void that she confronts every day.

And thinking about that, kids, is why Ms. Saturday is smiling at the front of the classroom, while she expounds upon the significance of architecture in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

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