Category Archives: overheard

Beautiful Young Ladies

Yesterday I was filling in for another teacher when one of the math teachers who was just walking by came in to say hello. When he walked in, one of the girls from the back of the room jumped up, ran over, and gave him a big hug.

Girl: Oh my gosh! I’m so excited to see you! I just got out of juvie!
Teacher: Hey! That’s good news!
Girl: Yeah, I was there for a month. [Jones] arrested me.
Teacher: OK! Well I’m glad you’re back.
Girl: Me too! When I was there at first, I was in detox, and it sucked. It was, like, the second day, and my mom came to visit. I begged her to take me home, but she didn’t want me, so I had to stay there.
Teacher: It sounds like you needed to be there, rather than home, if you were in detox.
Girl: Yeah, I guess.


Today, I went into the bathroom and saw a girl I had last year coming out of the stall. But behind her, I noticed that the seat was up. The only time I use the bathroom with the seat up is if I’m puking…

Sure enough, before I was even done peeing, she was back in the stall, puking. I met her at the sink and asked if she was going down to talk to the nurse. She said no. I told her she shouldn’t be at school if she was puking. Then her boyfriend, who was at the bathroom entrance waiting for her, said, “It’s not like that.” Shit.

So I looked at this girl – 17, smart, troubled past, but motivated to make her life better – and just asked, “How far along are you?” Eight weeks.

The boyfriend is 20. He’s a womanizer. He already has a baby with another woman who he never sees. I specifically requested that he wasn’t in my class any more after I had him two years ago because of the way he spoke to me – flirtatious, full of innuendo.

So I talked to the girl a bit about pregnancy sickness. I made sure our school nurse and social worker knew. I told her I hoped to have her again next quarter when she takes English 11B. And I asked her to talk to me if she needed to.

Then I walked away, and I cried.


I want so much for these kids. I want them to be better, to do more, to grow further than they thought possible.

I want to fix their problems. Or help them fix their own problems.

It’s hard being a closet idealist in a world that is very, very real.


There are limits.

Girl 1: Ew! These Cheez-Its are gross!
Girl 2, pointing her finger: Don’t you ever disrespect Cheez-Its again.
Girl 1: They’re whole grain.
Girl 2: Oh. OK. That’s fine then.


Monday, a few teachers had their cell phones stolen, one had her wallet stolen, and a kid had his backpack stolen. Everything has been recovered and the kid responsible for it all was arrested yesterday.

Overheard in the staff room:

“It’s such a shame. I guess I’ll have to do a better job locking my door.”

“Part of why he got turned in is that his friend found out whose phone he stole and she said she couldn’t let him do that to me.”

“These kids work so hard all the time to disprove the stereotypes about kids in this school; it’s an added insult when someone breaks that trust.”

Overheard in the halls:

“That kid was new here. He didn’t know how we do things. You don’t just go and disrespect teachers like that. If he ever comes back, we’ll make sure he understands this time.”

Members Only

In my study hall, I have a second teacher in there with me. Recently, she had a conversation with a student who was learning about the early foundation of the KKK in history class. She shared with him that she had gone to high school with the son of a then-leader of one KKK chapter. A girl on the other side of the room overheard and yelled, “Your husband is in the KKK?!?” so we all laughed and talked about how that’s how rumors get started.

Today, she was talking about something with another boy that another girl on the other side of the room misunderstood and asked about. Then, things got out of control quickly.

Me: Remember: That’s how rumors get started.
Girl: Oh yeah, we talked about that before. Because isn’t it, like, your ex-husband who like started the KKK or something?
Other teacher: No! I graduated with a kid whose father was in the KKK.
Boy: I think it would be cool to be in the KKK.
Other teacher: What?!?
Boy: Yeah, you get those free clothes.
Girl 2: You mean the white robes they wear?
Boy: Yeah, I could like wear it for Halloween and it would be all authentic.
Me: Or, as a suggestion, you could shop Sears’ clearance for white sheets and avoid the hassle of actually having to join a hate group.
Boy: But Sears sheets aren’t authentic.
Girl 2: It seems like a lot to go through just for some sheets and a Halloween costume.
Me: Plus, no offense, but I don’t think the KKK would take you. They have standards for membership.
Girl 2: Yeah, white standards.
Boy: Wait, how do you know that they wouldn’t want me?
Me: OK, I’m not a paying member of the KKK, but they have historically been pretty up front with their membership requirements. They’re pretty uninterested in people who aren’t white. But you’re not the only one; the KKK wouldn’t take half the people in this school.
Girl [who had been on her phone most of the time]: Wait, you’re in the KKK???
Me: No! For crying out loud! People! Rumors get started when we don’t listen to all the facts!
Girl: Whew! I didn’t think it made sense for you to be in the KKK. I mean, it’s OK to do what you want and I don’t judge and all that, but Ms. H, you’d make a real shitty KKK member.
Me: Thanks. I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.

How to spice things up in the bedroom.

Our head secretary told me this story this morning. That lady has all the good stories, I swear. Editor’s note: I have removed all mention of her giggling through this story. It was tough for her to get out…and in a minute, you’ll see why.

I was walking to the copy room the other day to unjam the copier – again – when I overheard this one little freshman boy talking to his little freshman buddies. He said, “I told her if she put a cupcake in her pussy, I would eat it!” I just didn’t know what to say to that, so I just kept right on walking and pretended like I didn’t hear it.


It’s not often that I laugh at something a student says – that anyone says – in a way that catches me off guard. My husband gets exasperated with me because I can sit through an entire two-hour stand-up comedy routine without even barely smiling. It’s not that I’m anti-fun or anything, just that I’m generally pretty reserved like that. I do laugh, easily, even. But, I don’t know, I guess I just measure my responses. Especially at school. So often kids say or do things to get a response and I just don’t give it to them.

However, I have this girl who says things all the time without trying to be funny that are just funny. And I laugh at what she says all the time in spite of myself – because what she’s saying is just barely on the tip toe edge of being crass. It’s the level of crass that when other kids say stuff at that level I’m able to look at them with a little glare and remind them that they’re in school. But her delivery is so natural, so candid, and so unassumingly witty, that, well, I don’t mean to, but honest giggles come out of me.

The other day, I overhear this sort-of-exchange between her and a boy in class. She’s actually just sort of quietly talking to herself at the beginning, but he jumps in.

Girl: God, sometimes it sucks being a good student. I have enough cleavage; I should just ditch all this and invest in my porn career.
[A boy two rows over throws himself on the desk to offer a high five.]
Girl, suddenly disgusted: Ugh! I’m not going to high five you for that! I’m not saying that so I can get your support! I have all the support I need from my online fans – guys like @bigdick242. Get out of my face.

And the same day, this between her and another girl.

Another Girl: Oh my god, I love Insane Clown Posse.
Girl: Yeah, I used to listen to ICP in eighth grade. It made me depressed as hell and definitely contributed to some bad choices. I regret those years.
Another Girl: What years?
Girl: Eighth grade.
Another Girl: Eighth grade is only one year.
Girl: No, I told you, I liked ICP then. It was more than one year.


In the hallway this morning:

Girl 1: Hey, Girl!
Girl 2: Hey! How are you?
Girl 1: Single! And so fucking free! LET’S GET SOME PUSSYYYYY!!!

Sometimes, I just close my eyes and pretend I didn’t hear that.

Last week at parent/teacher conferences:

Mom: You have a C in her class? But she’s pretty! You should be looking at her the whole time!

Son blushes and looks down.

Mom: [grabs son’s shoulder and shakes him, mostly, I think, in jest] What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you attracted to her?!


This morning in the hall:

Girl: The cops came to my house this weekend because everyone at school is like, “Are you on meth?” and I’m like, “No! I’m too poor for that!”


Boy: Hey, why are you in study hall?
Girl: Because I didn’t have a place to live for a while, so I couldn’t really come to school.
Boy: That’s shitty. But things are working out better now?
Girl: Yeah.
Boy: You should’ve just come and lived at my house. I have, like, four empty bedrooms.
Girl: Really? Why?
Boy: Yeah. Everyone in my family is either dead or in jail.

I’m so, so glad I never have to be a teenager ever again.

Conversation this morning:

Me: Hey, how’s your book coming?
Boy: I don’t like it.
Me: Why not? What’s going on in the book that you’re not connecting to?
Boy: It’s just gay.
Me: Fahrenheit 451 is not a gay book. It is not about gay characters. The author isn’t even gay.
Boy: Ugh. That’s not what I mean.
Me: I know that’s not what you mean. How about you tell me what you don’t like about the book in more descriptive terms that I could potentially help with?
Boy: It’s just dumb.
Me: Do you mean that it’s hard?
Boy: No. I’m just, like, three pages in to it and I don’t know what’s going on. It’s just talking about these firefighters and shit.
Me: Do you want to read it together? I could read it out loud with you and we could talk about it as we go. You could stop me any time you need to ask questions.
Boy: No, that’s OK. I’ll just look things up on line.
Me: But I’m an English teacher. Talking about books is a passion of mine. I’m a good reader and could give you tips for becoming a better reader too.
Boy: No thanks.
Me: You know I could tell you the same things as the internet, but in more detail and tailored more to your specific questions?
Boy: Yeah. It’s OK. I’ll just Google things I don’t get.

Conversation in the girls’ bathroom five minutes ago:

Girl 1 [sitting on the floor, in the corner, crying, surrounded by a handful of other girls]: I just thought everything was OK, you know? Like we were going to make it.
Girl 2: I know, but he’s such a fuck-up. He just didn’t get it.
Girl 1: I mean, I told him I wasn’t sure where things were going or what I wanted, but we could still be together. And I thought that was OK!
Girl 3: God! What is his problem?
Girl 1: I know! I mean, I told him…this, like, isn’t the time to fucking “figure things out.” This is fucking high school. You figure that shit out after high school. When you’re alone. Not like he’s going to be alone after high school, but, like, yeah…
Girl 2: Psh. He probably will be alone!
Girl 3 (or maybe 4): Yeah! Nobody’s going to want to be with him after he fucking dumps you!
Girl 4 (or maybe 3): He’s going to have a hard ass time finding anybody to date ever again.
Girl 1: I know, right?!?