“Margaret’s New Teacher”

PERHAPS, ONE WAY TO MAKE SCHOOLS A LOT SAFER,
WOULD BE TO MAKE SCHOOLS A LOT SMALLER–

(Last updated: August 25, 2018)
(Published: July 25, 2018)
Margaret’s New Teacher
by DR Wolfe

{From “The Dirty Little Secret About Transparensee” Series}

Preface:
rather than writing a formal report about my new school, I decided to write a fictional story about my new teacher instead. Even though this story is about me, it will be written in third person, and I will be your narrator. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks,
Margaret D.

“MARGARET’S NEW TEACHER”

Not only did the re-organization mean she was going to a new school, she would getting a new teacher. A different teacher…a teacher who “wasn’t one of us”. as her mom put it. But she didn’t know what that meant, but was still very excited about her first day at the new school!!!.

She had seen them putting up the new building, even though it was surrounded by a very tall fence. But the fence was gone now, and she could see the whole building.

As she got closer, she could see there was a bunch of older-looking people, around her mom’s age, waiting outside…and they were waving, waving at us,

“they’re waiting to meet us!” She screamed at her little sister.

“Come on Sis!” She yelled, pulling her younger sister along a little faster. Which meant, their mom began to trail even farther behind.

Her sister was a lot smaller, and two whole grades behind her. But even so, her sister began to pick up the pace., and was almost keeping up. They headed directly toward the cheering adults.

She could now also see a small brass band standing to one side, on the grass. Just as her and her sister came in to view, the band began to play. To announce their arrival, so she imagined.

But it wasn’t the ribbons, or the flashing cameras, or the small band that caught her attention, It was the two kids above them, standing on the running track and also waving.

The track was on the second floor of the new school building, and it ran the length of the building in both directions as far as you could see.

The two kids who were waving were her two very best friends. They also seemed to be yelling down to her, as they were running bye. Because of the glass, or maybe plastic, wall that separated them from her it was impossible to hear what they were saying. She put her free hand to her ear, and made a puzzled look.

Then she left go of her sister’s hand and jumped in to the air as high as she could. Waving her hands into the air, she screamed “Hey!” As if they could hear her, they waved back at her as if to say “Come on!”

“Can I go ahead, mom?” She asked, turning back to look at her mother, who had almost caught up to them. It took her mom a minute to answer, because she was way out of breath.

Then after sucking in a big breath of air, she answered, “Yes, just be sure to check in with the staff before you run off. You need a special badge, honey.”

After gulping another breath, she finished. “We’ll be there in a minute or two, I hope.”

And with that, she nodded her head, and smiled at her mom, and ran the last half of the block at full speed. She stopped for just a moment to say hello to a few of the people she recognized ,and then headed toward the massive front door of her new school. her mom saw, one of the women was pointing at the door and saying something to her daughter.

After pausing at the door for a moment, and waving to the band, she ran inside and disappeared into the shadows — out of her mother’s view.

According to the news, there was a whole bunch of these new safer schools being built all over town, in almost every neighborhood. And every school was going to be exactly the same as every other school. According to the school they showed, each building covered a whole block. And the second floor had a track that ran all the way around the school!

Every school had two floors. Along with the track, there was also going to be a massive garden on the second floor that all of the kids could help take care of–

The little kids and the middle kids, like her, would be on the first floor. And all the older kids, from eighth grade up, would be upstairs, except for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, since the cafeteria was on the first floor.

There was a recreational area in the basement. Apparently, it would be open every day during school, even on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. And it wasn’t just the recreational area that would be open, but, because of the neighborhood volunteers, every weekend the entire school will be open! Well, except the regular cafeteria, which I’ll try to explain more about later.

From the report, she already knew somewhere in the building there was a miniature basketball court, a weight room (with no actually weights), and a huge mat room for gymnastics, yoga and other kinds of physical education classes.

And there would be no speakers in the basement at all, any where. Because, according to the show we watched, all of the walls themselves could actually be made into huge speakers!

And the really great thing, is that there would be no team sports, or cheerleaders, everybody just gets to play just for fun! And you don’t want to play, you can go do something else.

Oh yeah, and that’s the most funny thing about the school. If we want, we all get to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there. But the good news is, we only have to go to school for four days a week. I think I’ll go every day!

After running into the building, she saw a table labeled “6th and 7th Grade”, and headed straight toward it.

She was finally starting 6th grade,today, she thought to herself.

Because of the small number of students in each school, each two grades would become one class. So this meant, every kid would kind of be in the same class for two years in a row, with the same teachers. Half the class would move to another group at the en of the school year, in late June.

But here’s the thing I forgot about, the school year never ends. We get two weeks off in July, and again in August. So instead, we get a bunch more weeks off during the year around holidays.

“And that’s okay with me and all my friends, we decided,” she thinks to herself.

And if we don’t need any days off for bad weather, we get an extra week off in the spring when it gets nice. So for the first time ever, all the kids are rooting for good weather this winter!

She knew some of the older kids are real mad about not having any sort of school teams, for anything. But if they want, they can play in the free leagues through the county’s Parks and Recreation department. Of course, that meant the end of high school football, since my mom said nobody wanted to pay for the insurance.

“But football’s dumb any way,” she told her mom. “Because girls aren’t allowed to play in the game. We only get to cheer for the stupid boys. And that makes me so mad!” And then as a final word on the entire matter, she stumped her foot in protest.

Her mother laughed out loud, and slapped her on the back. “I agree, that’s why had two girls instead of two boys, who I’m sure would insist on playing football” And she was sure glad of that–

And there would be no class presidents, only rotating representatives. This way, every one took turns serving on the student council. On most things, the class would vote on it, and the representatives would report back to the student council, who would talk it over, and then report back to the class…or something like that–.

So you know, in these new schools there’s no cell phones or Internet devices allowed. Because they don’t work! And a lot of the older kids are really angry about that, too…

But the kids can always borrow one of the school phones in the office, if they really need- And they can always check E mail on their long breaks.

She thinks, “Besides, my best friends are already here! Who do I need to call anyway? My mom? Oh PLEASE!!!”

“I know you,” A friendly voice said, as she approached the table. Your Nat and Harmony’s girl, little Margaret? Isn’t that right?”

It was her neighbor, Mrs. Jones, who her family could ‘barely keep up with’. That was a family joke around the house, although she didn’t really understand why…since they never went anywhere with the Jones’s?

“Yes, I’m Margaret, but I’m so little any more. I start 6th grade today. Hi, Mrs. Jones.” She answered.

“Of course. I stand corrected. Okay, let’s see if we can find your badge Ms. Margaret,” she replied, as she began to dig through a stack of plastic cards sitting in a box in front of her.

“Here you are. Of course, you’re gonna be in Brenda and Blake’s class, which is in the right corner, up front here. As she pointed to a map behind her, she began to explain.

“Here’s the 6th and 7th grade class. And the real little ones will be here, just past your group. That’ll be fun, won’t it?” She asked, with a smile, pointing to an area further down the map.

“And you’ll be across from the 4th and 5th graders, over here. Oh, and here’s the cafeteria at the far end, just before the ramp upstairs. But I’m sure you’ll figure it all out before the end of the day,” she said.

As she pointed, she added, “Just go through there, and follow the path to the right.” Then Mrs. Jones handed her a card that she was able to easily stick to her top.

She spun in the direction Mrs. Jones was pointing, and waved goodbye before dashing off.

But then she froze in her steps when she spotted her mother and sister coming through the front door and quickly changed directions, running over to them. After hugging both of them, she pointed to her badge and the secondary door. With an exhausted look, her mom just nodded her head. And then, like a ballerina, she patted her sister on the head and turned around and ran through the funny-looking metal door, that lit up as she approached.

After passing through a small breeze way, that was more like a small miniature dome that also lit up when she entered it.

When she got to the other side she stopped, and looked around in amazement.

She could see, it was one massive room, divided into different sections. Every section had its own color. She remembered from the map, her class was in the purple section. So seeing the path to the right, she followed it.

She first ran past a bunch of couches, where her next store neighbor’s grandfather was sitting. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him smiled and wave. She smiled back and waved, as she flew past.

She knew one thing for sure, right above her head, there’s a bunch of really, really cool play stuff. And her best friends are waiting for her, she thought, right this minute!

she quickly made the turn and headed down the path off to the left.

Right away she recognized a row of small bubbles and boxes off to her right. She knew, those were the study booths, she knew.

In every classroom, they said there’s going to be a bunch of these petal and motor bikes. And these tread mill-looking things. And a bunch of simulated space ships and boats, and other crazy stuff.

She knew that each of the simulators are built inside these enclosed bubbles or boxes. Along seats and controls, each of the have a large wrap around screen.

When it’s turned on, they said you can feel a breeze blowing and you can feel the floor begin to move. Then the ceiling and walls become windows to the outside and the entire thing becomes a massive speaker.

However, apparently from the outside you can’t hear anything; You can only see inside the bubble through a view finder mounted on the door. When she came to the first booth that was in use, she stopped to look. It was a kid she didn’t recognize, who flying down a cobble street on a motorcycle. Apparently, the kid on the motor bike couldn’t see her. From the show, she knew there was probably some sort of audio — an educational program, also playing through the speakers, but she couldn’t hear it. After a few seconds more, she turned away and continued toward the front of the class.

That’s so cool, she thought. Us kids can listen to our teacher talking about something really boring while we’re biking, or rowing or something. According to the program they watched, they said this helps a lot of kids learn better. She agreed.

For a moment, she imagined herself rowing down a lazy river in the jungles of South America, while she was listening to Mark Twain read one of his stories about Huckleberry Fin.

When she saw her friend Annie, she stopped and headed over to her.

“Hi!” She chirped, as she came up along side of Annie’s desk. In surprise, Annie jumped up and wrapped her arms around her.

“I’m so glad you’re here! Oh my god, you won’t believe it Margie! There’s so much stuff to do here!”

As they pulled apart, a way older woman, probably over thirty, walked up to them.

“Hi Margaret,” the strange woman said unexpectedly. Margaret’s mouth dropped open, then she looked down and remembered the identification card she was wearing, and they both laughed. A second later, Annie laughed too, getting the joke just a moment later.

“I’m Brenda,one of your team leaders,” she said, and pointed to her name tag, continuing to giggle with the girls.

Brenda motioned for them to follow her. Then the three of them each picked out a desks and sat down in a kind of semi-circle.

A moment later, another man, who looked like he just got out of college, brought her a small plate of what looked like home made cookies and a bottle of flavored water. She nodded, and shyly said, “Thank you”.

“Hi, I’m Blake, I’m one of your team leaders,” pointing to his tag, as though the two of them had rehearsed it. She giggled again, and looked to see if Annie got it. She did. Blake smiled, but she didn’t think he really got the joke.

“I don’t know if you heard the good news yet, but Today, there’s no school!” He pretended to clap, and the girls laughed and clapped gregariously.

“We just want you to spend the day exploring the building, meeting the staff, and then make sure you join us in the cafeteria for lunch. We’re having cake and ice cream!”

The girls laughed. And Brenda gave him a look, and added, “Not exactly, but it will be very good…I promise-”

“In fact, it’ll be better than cake and ice cream,” Blake said.

“Can we go upstairs to the track?” She asked, excitedly.

“Let me give you this first,” Brenda said, walking over to her carrying something. It was a computer cap.

After taking it from the woman who called herself, the team leader she looked at it for a second and then put it in the outside pocket of her shoulder bag.

“So the only other thing you have to do today, and that means any time today, is to plug that in,” and follow the instructions.” as she pointed at the desk she said, “There’s inputs all over this place, so have fun the rest of the day, and we’ll get down to the school stuff tomorrow.”

hearing this, the girls frowned. Then Brenda added “Don’t worry, we believe learning should always be fun, and exciting. And there’ll be lots of time to play, I promise you–” And with this new information, they both smiled.

Still smiling, Annie asked. “Can we go,” and looked at Margaret, to make sure she was ready.

With an almost sad look, Blake looked down at the uneaten cookies. And then Margaret added, “And can I take these with me?”

“Sorry, no food ever allowed upstairs or downstairs, only water. Don’t worry, I’ll rap them up for you for later.” Brenda said.

“Never mind, I’ll just go ahead and eat them,” Blake said, grabbing the plate off the desk and waving his other hand. “Now, Would you two please go have some fun!”

They grabbed their water bottles, and took off.

As they began to run, Margaret yelled, “How do we get up there?” And she pointed up.

And in response, Annie pointed toward a path that led toward the back of the building. But it was so far away you couldn’t see the back wall from where they were.

When they got to the main walkway that ran down the center of the huge building, they turned right. There were a few people walking around, so they had to quickly swerve to the left and dodge them. As they picked up speed, they headed straight ahead toward what she could now tell was a wide ramp. Margaret took the lead, because of her longer legs, but Annie was also a good runner and was right behind her, on her heals.

At the base of the ramp, off to her left, there was about three dozen cafeteria tables, with eight seats each. She thought, they looked like they came out of one of those old fashion fast food places. She noticed, about a half dozen of the tables were filled with mostly adults who all looked like they were drinking coffee. A few of the little kids were eating something, and she felt a little hungry.

To her right was a long row of windows where she could tell the kitchen was located, although it wasn’t clear about how to get into there.

Then from behind her she heard Annie yell, “Stop when you get to the top.”

To let her friend know that she heard her, she waved her hand in the air.

Then she smiled, seeing that several of the adults in the cafeteria had also waved to her, not knowing she was actually waving to Annie. So she did the only thing she could do, and waved again–

When she got to the top, she froze. Through the glass, she could see the whole neighborhood. Unlike the windows down below, the whole wall was a window.

At this point, the ramp curved to both the left and right. So she waited for her friend to catch up.

As she looked up, she could tell how the same track she saw her friends running on was now directly above her head. But she could see there was no way to get up there from here. Just then, she felt Annie touch her shoulder.

“Damn, you can run girl. I’ll bet if we did had a track team here you’d kick some real butt Margie!” Margaret smiled back at her.

“So which way do we go?”

“That way,” Annie said, pointing to the left.

They both laughed and took off running up the ramp to the left.

When they got to the top, she could see the left ramp emptied into a wide hallway, that opened up to an even bigger room.

Off to the left was a row of these smaller rooms. Annie pointed at one of the dance machines, which had these flashing overhead lights and a rotating dance floor.

In this room, two older girls she knew were dancing, and wearing ear buds. They were both laughing really loud, until they saw her and waved. her and Annie waved back.

To the right was a door that led out to the track. She paused for a moment and looked back at her friend with a questioning look, and than paused and looked for a long moment at the two girls who were still dancing, wondering if they should join them. She noticed in another room a boy she knew was wearing some goggles and holding a long tube. he was intently staring at something on the wall, although she couldn’t see anything..

Then Annie touched her on the arm and pointed toward the door, and took off running in that direction. So she followed–

when she got out there, she could feel a small breeze, but soon realized it wasn’t exactly like being completely outside.

As she saw earlier, the outside wall that surrounded the track was made of this plastic material that sure looked a lot like glass. ‘It was very cool’, she thought, when she touched it.

From here, you could see everything on the street for at least a block in both direction.

The track itself was just three lanes wide, with a small area that ran along each outside lane. It was made of some sort of rubber stuff you could almost bounce on. Funny thin, is that it looked just like wood.

As they began to run, she could see on the inside of the building along this part of the track, there was a fence separating the track from the garden. There were three boys she recognized sitting on a bench near a fountain. But there was no way to get in there from where they were.

“Hey wait a minute,” Annie said. “Let’s go back to the door, and wait there.”

“That’s a good idea,” Margaret added. “Otherwise we’ll probably end up chasing each other around in a circle all day!” They both laughed.

When they got back to where they started, they went back inside and sat down on a small bench near the window.

There were a few more benches off to each side of her, spaced apart. When she stood up, she saw a family of five across the street, riding up toward the front of the school building on their five matching florescent red bikes. But she didn’t recognize them.

“Hey do you know the Disney Family Robinsons” She asked Annie and pointed.

At that same very moment, the dad looked up at her.

“Oh my god!” She gasp for air, covering her mouth and quickly hiding her face. “I didn’t know they could hear us!”

Annie laughed. “They can’t hear you silly! This stuff is just about bullet proof!” She laughs again. And then they both laugh.

“Watch this,” she says to Margaret. In her loudest voice, she yelled, “Hey you! You funny looking man, do you know what time it is?” But the father never did stop or look up again.

A few kids who were standing nearby heard her and laughed.

Then just as Annie predicted, a minute later her two friends came running up. They went outside to meet them.

“How do we get in there,” she ask, pointing to the garden area down the way.

“You can only get there through the other side,” the taller, athletic girl said, pointing at the ramp they came up.

“That’s where the right ramp we saw goes,” Annie added.

“Want to dance?” It was their other friend, Rachel. Unlike Toni, Rachel was new to the neighborhood, and had only moved in last spring. They all got to be close friends over the summer, while they were all hanging out, watching the new school be built.

After spending the morning playing on the dance machine, playing a game of wall ball, and then working on the stretching and weight machines for awhile, they went back to the cafeteria to rest and get lunch.

After ordering some wheat potato fries and a vegie burger, she ran over to where her mom was sitting and sat down next to her and another neighbor lady her mom knew, they all called “Weave”. A moment later, her three friends carrying trays loaded with food came over and sat down at the table next to them.

“Wow mom!” She yelled. “You won’t believe.” She grabbed her mother’s shoulder to make sure she knew she was really serious.

“I know honey. When we got to take a tour last month, we agreed to not tell any of you kids what we saw. But yes I know, it’s really something.”

“So we all agreed so that you kids would be completely surprised, we wouldn’t say anything to you about it.” Weave added.

She did remember that. The adults got a secret peak about two months ago. Because of her mom, she knew a lot about how the classes would work, but they didn’t say a whole lot about the building itself…and all the cool things to do!

When she finished eating she told her friends that she was going to play the clip they gave her. On her way back to her classroom area, she noticed a row of desk, and decided this would be a better place to concentrate, in case it was a test or something. When she inserted the cap, and lowered the dome, a young woman appeared on the screen.

“Hello, Margaret? I am your personal tutor, Elizabeth. Nice to meet you,” the voice said.

“Nice to meet you too,” Margaret answered.

“I’ll be the one giving you assignments and helping you with your homework whenever you want help.”

“and just so you know, I know all the personal tutors intimately, so don’t even ever think for a single minute you can cheat.” The woman laughed. Margaret hesitated, but then joined in the laughter.

She remembered. She was told your teaching guide had a sense of humor, so it was up to the kids to train their tutor about what they felt was and was not acceptable humor. So while the tutor was teaching them, they were also training their tutor about they thought was funny. The tutor would use this information to better teach them, always trying to keep their lessons entertaining.

Scientists figured out, the best two ways to teach young minds were to:
First, keep their bodies active and healthy turning the teaching process;

And second, use humor whenever possible and appropriate to more permanently plant thoughts in their developing brain.

As the weeks went on, school became the greatest part of her life. The way the tutor was able to keep changing things around, made doing homework fun. And that was amazing, She used to hate doing homework, but not any more!

And the best thing of all, the kids now felt really safe. It wasn’t just Captain Clarke and the other volunteers from the neighborhood, who all took turns sitting out in front of the school every day. It was also the dozens of volunteers who also showed up to help out.

They were right, the big schools just made kids feel more meaningless, and made them easy targets for some angry kid nobody knew. In those big schools nobody really knows anybody, so why would they care about hurting someone they didn’t know. Here we know everybody, and we know their families, and that really does matter.

And as far as I’m concerned, most of the jocks and cheerleaders only made the other kids who didn’t play sports or go out for cheerleading think they were worthless. Here everyone’s pretty much equal.

So if you ask me, it was no wonder that most kids began to hate going to school–

And then came the horrible school shootings! One, after another, after another, after another…which only made kids even more afraid to go to school.

So now it’s not like being in one of those big schools any more. Nobody can get in the building where the kids are, unless they go through one entrance with a lot of adults between them and the kids. And nobody can even get through the security door without an authorization badge, or the second door automatically closes.

And no one except the staff can set off the fire alarm, to trick the kids into running outside where they can be shot.

At our new school, every kid learns to help with the cleaning, because it teaches them to care about the place where they spend most of their time. Schools used to be these ugly cement buildings that nobody cared about, but our school is like our second home, and it kind of looks like more of a home than a school.

We all get to grow things here, and build things from all kinds of things we used to throw away. We’re not just sitting around taking tests any more in school. There’s a new way to learn, and we can study any subject we want. It’s our choice. All long as we’re studying something, it doesn’t matter what you study!

“And here’s the other thing I almost forgot about,” she begins to write. “When the older kids study a subject, sometimes they spend half the day on the same subject. Us younger kids don’t do that quite as much, but they say it helps kids to remember what they learn, and I think they’re right.”

Then, feeling like she had said enough, she submits her report. The she tells her personal tutor Elizabeth good night and signs off.