New School Year New School Term.
It’s January. The third morning of the year. The first Monday. The teachers are arriving at the school. Some children arrived early. The newcomers are conspicuous in their attire. Some are in their old schools’ uniform, others are in civilian, the lucky ones are already in the required uniform but their faces betray them. Parents seeking admission lets for their children are seated on the benches outside the administration block. They exchange pleasantries and engage in a little gossip. The teachers present are either unsure of how to serve the waiting parents or they could just be reluctant to act.
“Happy new year.” Mr Jacobs’s lowest male voice echoes in the staffroom. “Happy new year to you” Madam Mary, Mr Philip, Mr Peterson, Sister Irene, Dr William and Mr Adam replied. “Has the” he gestures towards the Head Teacher’s office “arrived?”
“No,” said Sister Irene.
“I heard that the tiger has been promoted and moved to the headquarters,” announced Mr Philip
“Really?” Madam Mary inquired.
“Phew! He should transfer his fiery elsewhere.” Mr Jacobs celebrated.
“Better the Devil you know,” Dr William told Mr Jacob.
“Who is taking over?” asked Madam Mary
“Madam Janet was summoned to receive the form one calling letters from the office, she may bring information on the new administrator.” Sister Irene informed the rest.
“Did Madam’s house survive the jury’s hammer?” Mr Jacob asked
“Her parents came to her rescue,” replied Sister Irene.
“She would have gained some experience if that big house could have been auctioned,” lamented Mr Jacobs
“No single human is immune to problems. We shouldn’t be sadistic to wish evil for our colleagues. Neither should we celebrate their failures or misfortunes.” Dr William said.
Mr Peterson smiles, Mr Adam clears his throat, Sister Irene, Madam Mary and Mr Philip laugh. Mr Jacobs frowns and leaves the staffroom. He walks along the veranda giving the children a serious look. The children shudder at his sight. He is known for projecting his frustrations on the little creatures. He finds faults whenever he wishes. Today, he uses his round eyes to scare the children. He dares not use his hands or his mouth. The consequence of unleashing terror on an innocent child earned him an interdiction at the beginning of previous year. Being out of the payroll for one full year was a terrible lesson to him. He blamed the outgoing Head Teacher for not ‘protecting him’ during the trials. He ignored the fact that Mr Jefferson had warned him severally against assaulting the children.
“Corporal punishment is out-lawed. You should avoid things that put you at conflict with the law. A teacher must be a law-abiding citizen” Mr Jefferson had advised Mr Jacobs. This advice had fallen into deaf ears. One day he had projected his anger on a child who was well informed. The little boy took his grievance to the officer In charge of the children’s welfare who took up the matter. The teacher survived a jail term by getting a psychiatric report claiming that he was mentally unstable the time he acted contrarily to the laws. The agent of the employer, Mr Jefferson, the head teacher had already sent a report as required, hence the interdiction. A feline from the teacher’s quarters meows towards the irate teacher. A group of anxious children scream as the little creature lands on the well-trimmed hedge at the entrance of the quarters.
“Excuse me, sir,” Rhoda, the student’s president calls. He ignores. “Mr Jacobs?” She persists. This time round she raises her voice. He stops and turns. The girl looks at his eyes without blinking. “What do you want?” His voice is hoarse. “Madam Janet wants to have a word with you.” Rhoda says and waits for his reply. He gestures and the girl falls back and gives him way.
In the staffroom, the teachers are sitting at their usual places facing Madam Janet the deputy head teacher. Other teachers had joined the staff while Mr Jacobs went out to release his anger. The teacher representatives from the Kindergarten department, Madam Gabrielle, Madam Elsie and Madam Zipporah are seated next to each other. They are all in purple suits. They look expensive. They must have planned to dress high class to outdo the other teachers. Madam Mary isn’t impressed. She sneers and pulls her mouth such that when you see her red painted lips, you wouldn’t help but remember “The little red hen and her seven chicks.” Madam Janet also hates the trio’s trick but remains nonchalant and emotionless. Mr Phillip is knocked down the knees. He tries to flirt with the trio simultaneously but fails miserably because all the three face him at the same time. He surrenders and shifts his gaze to the book on his table.
“Happy New Year colleagues,” Madam Janet begins. “I thank the Almighty God for letting us see yet another year. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you back in our institution. I also cannot forget to thank each one of you for standing with me during a most trying moment. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generous contributions and sincere prayers. I am glad to inform you that whatever support you offered was neither in vain nor taken for granted. My sister came to my aid and cleared the outstanding balance. I cannot fail to mention that I feel indebted to you for saving my home, my dignity and my peace .For some of us joining our institution for the first time either from other institutions or straight from college, you are highly welcome. For those reporting back to duty due to one reason or another, you also are welcome. I sincerely believe that you’ll join in the wheels and fit appropriately. Before I bore you to the core, I would like to inform you that Mr Jefferson was promoted and deployed to work in the secretariat at the headquarters. The office has promised to send his replacement any time from now”
“Why not you?” Sister Irene asked
“No, not me. Meanwhile, let us embark on subject sharing and timetable allocation so that we do not mismanage the Teacher-Pupil contact time.”
The cook lays the table.
The teachers take their tea trying to guess who the new administrator will be. There is anxiety everywhere.
The children suddenly begin jumping and screaming. The teachers check; others through the windows. The agile ones like Philip walk out of the staffroom. Madam Janet moves her petite frame and squeezes it past Mr Jacobs who is leaning against the door, his left foot is on the stairs. His right one still in the staffroom .He seems unsure of his next step than reluctant to take it.
The government vehicle is parking. Its occupants disembarking. Madam Janet is ready to receive them. The inspector of schools and his assistants come out consecutively. The schools’ auditor is followed by a man in grey suit. If not for his bald head, you could mistake him for a young lad. His face is clear and smooth, his teeth sparkling white. He flashes them with a very wide grin. He gives Madam Janet this magnetic smile. They shake hands[T1] . Madam Janet leads them to the office. The teachers move fast to control the excited children. The bell goes. It is lunch hour. The pupils rush for lunch. The inquisitive ones stay behind. They hang around the Administration Block.
The officers summon the teachers. Introductions follows.
Madam Janet introduces the teachers.
The inspector introduces his colleague first then introduces the bald man. “This is Dr Davies. He has come to replace Mr Jefferson who has moved to the headquarters. If you haven’t met him yet, he is a teacher who has specialized in child rights laws and has Post Graduate degree in the same. I am highly convinced that he will serve you humanly and professionally and uplift service to the child. All the teachers except Mr Jacobs clap. He wipes his wet fore head. Mr Philip sips his bottled water.
Mr Jefferson arrives. The members of the BOARD OF MANAGEMENT arrive. The handing-taking over exercise is done.
It’s two in the afternoon. The children are already back. The teachers are going to the assembly so that Dr Davies is introduced to the children. Some parents are arriving. Do you know who arrives first? Who else if not Tonia, the village gossip and her counterpart Gradus. The teachers have nicknamed them; Dobchinsky and Bobchinsky from “The Government Inspector.
The assembly introduction is full of drama. Mr Jacobs almost faints. Mr Phillip gets wet when Mr Davies begins his words by mentioning the children’s rights and the consequences of violating them. “Always remember, every right has a responsibility.” Some parents clap, others ululate. The village gossips are the first to leave. Once out of the gate, they begin speculating how Dr Davies has dealt harshly with Mr Jacobs and Mr Philip for violating the children’s rights. Should the former and the latter take action against the two notorious village gossips? Rumours spread like bush fire, don't they?