The Substitute Teacher was Mean as a Snake and Southern as They Come

Wheeeee!  One little leaf goes fluttering to the ground.
Wheeeee! One little leaf goes fluttering to the ground.

Today is a very cool day in north Alabama. The sky is crystal clear, the sunshine deceptive. Yesterday, a blustery artic wind blew in from the north and shook the leaves of the ancient oak trees outside of Princess Buttercup’s school, where I was working as a substitute for her class.

The wind would blow, and the leaves pelted the windows of the old school building. I finally figured out how to use the remote control to get the heater working.

The kids were very sweet, good, and respectful. Buttercup goes to a good school.

Being a sub is no easy job. The teachers have their schedules down to a science: how to teach that many subjects within the allotted time. I did my best but was far behind schedule. I think we did just three subjects! Not to mention, I had to explain some math concepts, and math is not my best subject. Poor kids.

I remember having subs when I was growing up in rural Alabama. It was a tricky proposition. You never knew what kind of sub you were going to get. Sometimes they were push-overs. Sometimes they were strict and stalwart as wooden sticks. But it was always nice to have a change of pace from the regular teacher.

Mom tells about one of our relatives that used to substitute for her high school class. This was when Mom was a girl, growing up in Jachin. The kids would always manage to get this substitute to talk about “the Yankees,” no matter what subject they were on. I think the lady’s father or grandfather must have fought in “The War.”

Interestingly enough, I got the lady’s daughter as a teacher when I was in the fourth grade. It started off when the school year began and we got some fresh-from-college teacher named Miss M. Miss M was very young and very new at teaching. She barely tolerated our class, and by Christmas had decided to call calf-rope. (That means that she decided to call it quits.) I think my class got to her. The last thing we ever heard was that she had decided to go to graduate school. She probably decided to go to grad school in something completely different and to her liking such as—who knows what…political science, maybe?

That’s when Mrs. S, our relative and a divorcee with a young son, stepped in. She was mean as a snake and southern as they come. I thought that she would be nice to me, since she was a distant relative. But not so fast, my friend. She treated me with the same unshakable firmness that she doled out for the rest of the class. Like an Army sergeant, she called us all by our last names.
One day when she was calling out names while passing out graded papers, I spoke up and asked her, if she pleased, to call me by my first name. Her eyes burned with the fire that surely came from her Confederate forefathers. “I will not!” she said and contemptuously handed me my paper.

Somehow I made it through the rest of the year. That was the only year that cousin Mrs. S taught at my school. The next class had a luckier time, getting a new teacher who stayed all year.

I, however, enjoyed substituting yesterday, and I hope that the kids enjoyed it, too. I don’t really have a picture to go along with this blog, but I do have pictures of pretty fall leaves that I’ve taken. Hope you enjoy!










Leaves falling all over the road before the cars can chase them off.  Small Alabama town.
Leaves falling all over the road before the cars can chase them off. Small Alabama town.

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