January 2016 Column Winner

Substitute teaching can be a learning experience

Tracie Macy, The Hennessey Clipper

When I first moved back to Hennessey 15 years ago, I decided to substitute teach. I’m not sure what I was thinking at the time, but I tried it, and surprisingly, I survived.
Just barely.
The elementary age group is comparable to shopping on Black Friday. There is lots of movement, noise and chaos. When you get home you’re excited that you survived it, only you’re too exhausted to celebrate.
High school kids are slower paced physically, but mentally they will try to wear you down with all their attempts to get out of class and not do any work. I was constantly trying to stay one step ahead of their attempts to run amuck.
There was one high school boy who I won’t ever forget.
He was awful.
Yes, I know that is harsh, but that is what he was in every sense of the word.
He cussed me, was disruptive and once when I sent him to the office he spit at me.
After a few months of having to deal with his detestable behavior, I ran into him while riding horses at the rodeo grounds.
He rode in on a beautiful white horse. They bounced and pranced around awhile and then he got off of his horse and started verbal commands.
Walk, stop, right, left.
He never touched his horse, he just spoke to him in a gentle yet stern voice.
His horse did everything he asked.
He directed him to get down on the ground and the horse did. He walked over, got on and commanded him up. The horse did exactly as he was told and up he went.
I approached him and complimented him on his horse and his training abilities. He said he had worked and trained him since he was a colt. I could see the pride in his eyes while he talked about all the time and effort he had put in with his equine friend.
I told him if he put this much effort into school the way he did with that horse, he could achieve anything.
He said, “I thought you didn’t like me.”
I replied, “I don’t like the way you treat me, but I very much envy you for the patience and effort you have put into training this horse.”
I told him a few other things too, none of which I can print in this column!
The next time I had to substitute in the high school, he was in my room. He was the best student I had. He treated me with respect and did his work.
We never had problems again.
It was as if he really valued the appreciation I had for what he achieved with that beautiful white horse.
I don’t remember his name and I haven’t seen him in years, but I’ll always remember the lesson he taught me; there is more to people than what you see on the outside.
But just for the record, if I was asked to substitute again, the answer is no!


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