Editor’s note: Due to a crazier than normal Monday last week, I got ahead of myself in Tom’s story so please go back in time and then we will resume next time at the proper point of the story.
By Tom Groenewal
Nov. 22- Nov. 27, 1991
I head for the library, always a good place; will it be different in Forks? There is a section for young kids, picture books and stuff. Young adult selection is well represented by romances, of which I oppose, too thin, not much substance. I find a good selection for adults. A book for loggers, “How to Keep Sure Footing in the Woods,” a very worn book, serious topic. For women, “How to Run a Wilderness Farm in a Rain Forest” is also serious business. Milk and beef cows would be needed. How did the old timers get cows way out here, back in the day? By land or sea?
The librarian was happy to set me up with a card, good for life I think. I check out a book about Forks history and luckily find something about cows in the rainforest.
I go to Forks Schools Administration Building and inquire about volunteering.
Suddenly the conversation turns. She asks if I had a college degree. Yes. Can I pass an FBI check? “Yes, as much as I know.” Can never be too sure these days. “Well, how would you like to be a teacher?” Without thinking, I say, “Yes, I would like to be a teacher.”
Sensibility kicks in, “What does that mean,” I ask? “Do I get up in front of the class with lesson plans and manage unusual middle school behaviors?” “No problem for you, I can tell,” she says. Oh my, she is dishing up compliments, trying to keep me from reconsidering. I’ve been in the district office for two-and-a-half minutes and already I am a teacher. I try not to make decisions quickly; it usually turns out poorly. Without thinking I say, “Okay, I’m in.”
I visit the secretaries from the elementary, middle and high school. They will be calling me with my teaching assignments. I see some elementary students, they are small. I don’t have any experience with kids that age. I really don’t blow noses or do diapers. No, I meant to say, I definitely don’t do noses or diapers.
Three days later I am called to the district to pick up my certificate. I call my mother and tell her I am a teacher. “Now you behave she tells me. You liked to goof off too much when you were a kid. Be prepared every day. Kids need good teachers. And her golden rule: “Don’t tell a child to do something if you are not prepared when they don’t follow your request.”
The phone rings at 6 a.m. while I am drinking coffee. My feet are up on the window sill looking out the back window watching the horizontal rain and blowing wind. (Horizontal rain was already on my Forks Weather List).
Today is my first day as a substitute teacher for the Quillayute Valley School District #402. The classes are for students with special needs. I like the idea. The first student who enters the room calls me a punk. OK, there may be some truth to that. After he settles in I ask the punk kid if he will help me by getting some paper towels for a project we will be working on. He gets the paper towels. On his way back from his chore he tells me I’m not a punk and he can help me if needed. He lifts my spirits right away.