This sub-series relates my teaching an all-girl eighth-grade English class. That experience led to my believing eighth grade girls very are much like seventh graders, ninth graders, or just in between.
The growing of our junior high school designed for 600 increasing to 800 presented some problems. Shortly after everyone was settled in for the year, there was a serious need for class size reduction. For reasons unknown to me at the time, hiring more teachers was not an option[mfn]I did learn about school funding later.[/mfn]. One solution was to have teachers volunteer for an extra class, with pay of course. I had taught an extra math class the year before, so expecting a math class again, I put my name on the list. All extra math classes were taken. I’d not taught English, nor did I have college training in it. Needing the extra income I took the only class left.
’Real’ English teachers were asked to make recommendations and those students were transferred to my supplemental assignment. The all-girl class was a real adventure. A repeating freshman moved and was replaced by a seventh grader, about whom you’ll read later, at the start of second quarter. I knew several of the girls from my wood-shop class, one was from our church, and one was a former neighbor; but most of them I’d never seen nor heard of before.
But little did I know the collection that was picked to be foisted upon me had a group GPA of 1.0 on a scale of 4. Of the 23 students, excluding the two mentioned before, nine were graduated from the district high school. Some may have graduated elsewhere, but the student community was always in flux. To the best of my memory, I only saw three of them as adults. One became an English teacher in the same district, one filled a prescription for me, and another worked at the local public library.
I saw the latter when I was turning in a book. She told me about her baby, but added, “No! Mr. Gerund[mfn]Their ‘pet’ name for me.[/mfn], I got married a year before his being born.” I’m sure it was to let me know she was different from to several in the class who had babies without marriage.
I wish I’d taken notes so I could share more, but there are at least three stories to tell. As I draft, perhaps I’ll remember others.
At the end of the year the class GPA was the same as when they entered, but with one exception, all legitimately passed the class. On the last day, I was surprised by their gifting me an engraved bracelet with J.M.B. on the outside.
All Girl Class I will be posted next.