Critical Markers – Part 1

Sunday 26 – Tuesday 28 April 2015

‘He hits all of the critical markers. I’m telling you, we need to watch Teddy Lange.’

The core staff of Wilmot High listened attentively as Skylar Marsh covered every minute detail she’d collected about her young student. The once a week meeting of the twelve staff representative of administrators, teachers, and heads of department was coming to its scheduled end when Skylar felt the need to introduce Teddy Lange as a candidate.

‘Skylar,’ Dean Graham, deputy head, interjected in an attempt to save the other staff from yet another overtime meeting, ‘this is not the right time to bring up a watch and act. Any other business is meant to be, y’know, meaningless crap that can be discussed and solved within a few seconds like . . . should we buy Pepsi or Coke for the staff vending machine? Hershey’s or Mars? Pringles or Lays? Simple stuff.’

She sighed indignantly and shuffled her papers into a neat little stack as she always did when someone irritated her.

‘With all due respect, Dean, I tried to bring Teddy up at the previous three meetings but you’ve always brushed me off. And I can’t help but think that’s because he’s your sister’s boy.’

The deputy head, flustered by Skylar’s accusation, stumbled over his reply. ‘That’s, that’s got nothing to, to, to do with anything. It’s, um, it’s irrelevant. There’s nothing wrong with him, with Teddy. Nothing at, um, nothing at all.’

‘Excuses. That’s all you’ve got, Dean,’ Skylar snapped.

Iris Stedman provided Skylar and Dean with a way to save face. ‘I suggest that Teddy Lange is at the top of next week’s watch and act discussion. I also suggest that Dean has nothing to do with that particular discussion, and that in the mean time, Skylar observes and documents any further evidence of Teddy meeting the critical markers. Simple problem solving really.’

‘You’re a university level maths teacher, Iris. Of course it’s simple problem solving to you,’ Dean snapped at the school’s longest serving educator.

‘As it should be simple to you too, Deputy Graham.’ Iris’ stern voice was tempered by a slight smile.

‘Fine. Fine,’ he replied. ‘Teddy’s at the top of next week’s watch and act. Now, if there’s nothing else, the meeting’s done and dusted.’ Before anyone else had even had a chance to gather their belongings, Dean Graham was up and out of the staffroom door, and racing back to his office.

‘I think you hit a nerve, dear,’ Iris said to Skylar.

‘It would seem that way,’ she replied. ‘Why do you think he’s so resistant to discussing Teddy Lange? I mean, aside from the fact that the boy’s his nephew. There has to be some other reason, doesn’t there?’ Skylar stopped stacking the papers in front of her, and waited the responses from the others.

Iris was the first to contribute her thoughts. ‘I think you’ll find, dear, that our esteemed deputy might not like the critical marker concept where it pertains to his kin. Think of the conversation that he possibly might have to have with his sister.’

‘But he’s the one who came up with the idea,’ insisted Skylar. ‘He’s the one who convinced the entire school district that critical markers were a sound, legitimate assessment aid. The only reason every school in this country has to have these meetings and discussions is because Dean Graham championed the cause. If he hadn’t, no one in any school district across the country would have given a second thought to Fredrick Moore or his ideas.’

* * * * *

The two young boys sat side by side on the river’s edge sharing an ill-gotten bag of jellybeans.

‘Oh look, Michael, a fish!’

Michael leaned forward to get a better look at the area Teddy pointed to.

‘Where? I don’t see anything.’

Look! Over there, Michael.’ Teddy pointed further out into the river. ‘It’s swimming away. See?’

Michael rose up on to his knees and grasped the grass on the edge of the river for safety. He craned his neck trying to see the fish.

‘Do you see it, Michael? Do you see it?’ Teddy egged him on. ‘Lean over a bit more. You’re bound to see it then.’

Already precariously positioned, Michael leaned a little further over the edge of the riverbank forsaking a good grip on the grass for a peek at the elusive fish that Teddy had seen. A small but strong hand applied pressure to the middle of Michael’s back and in an instant, the boy flew forward, face-first into the river.

‘Help, Teddy. Help me!’

Arms flailing, head bobbing up and down in the river, Michael clawed desperately at the riverbank, and all the while, Teddy Lange sat eating jellybeans.

. . .To be continued . . .

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About Danielle

I like to write. What more is there to know?
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