Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sub Notes

Last week, I was returning to my classroom after lunch duty in the cafeteria when one of the school's administrators saw me in the hallway. He smiled a friendly greeting and said not, "How are you today? but "Who are you today?"

Without a bit of hesitation, I replied with the name of the teacher I was subbing for. I am not Sherry when I am at school. I am the teacher in whose classroom I am or, at best, Mrs. C.

It's a funny thing, but I remember the feeling from when I subbed my way into a teaching job so many years ago. It is standard fare for a sub.

After school today, across the street in the Young Life building where I am back to being Sherry, Aaron lingered at the counter, munching tortilla chips. "You know those boys that were talking in Pre-Algebra?" he said quietly. "They were talking about drinking and smoking pot."

"I knew what they were talking about; I'm not that old."

"I figured you did. They must forget that adults used to be teenagers, too. And you weren't even paying attention, so they probably thought you weren't listening."

"I know. I pretend not to be listening a lot, just so I can find out what's really going on. I let them talk quietly and I just stay silent. The longer I don't pay attention, the more interesting the conversation gets."

"That's pretty smart of you, Sherry."

"Thanks, Aaron. Don't give me away, ok?"

He assured me he wouldn't and we smiled at each other like we were both in on a grand inside joke.

But today's overheard conversation wasn't a joke. The boys were planning for a huge party at the home of one of them, whose mother is leaving town on Thursday for a few days. Plans were being made, in coded language, for who was bringing what controlled substance and how to put the house back in order without making it look so spotless that a parent might be suspicious.

I am feeling a heavy burden of responsibility for the information I have. Yes, this kind of thing happens all the time and is almost to be expected among teenagers. But, at the same time, it is at and after parties such as these that people are occasionally badly injured or killed, whether from antics at the party itself or from driving under the influence afterward.

The boy offering the party has a very unique last name, and his extended family owns a prominent small business in the valley. His mother wouldn't be hard to look up. I've considered all day just looking in the phone book and making a few calls, trying to find the right household.

Maybe I will wait until tomorrow morning when he is safely in class, then share the situation with the school secretary and ask for the mother's daytime contact information.

The problem is that Mrs. C., the math teacher's sub, and Sherry are the same person. I can't distance my profesional life from my personal concerns. Am I interfering here in a situation where my nose simply doesn't belong?

I welcome your thoughts.


Dan said...

One of your labels for this post is "my job description." I think this would fit under that category. If drugs are even remotely being talked about, I think you have a responsibility...but working through the secretary might be the wisest thing, or see what the principal thinks.

Sherry C said...

Actually, I called a friend of mine who is in law enforcement and he suggested that I go to the sheriff's deputy who patrols the school beat here. He knows these kids well and could then be responsible to either make a friendly visit to the party itself, or give the mother a head's up before she leaves. That way, he is the bad guy--if there is one--which is his job, and I am not in risk of being labelled a snitch and jeopardizing future ministry to the kids who need it most. Good option, I think.

Jeannie said...

Sounds like a very wise plan. Also, pray that God will intervene for all involved.

Mister Ed T said...

Yep! My prayers are with you.