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World of Darkness: The Academy - Enter the Grind

Thomas Burke

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Thomas set in his office, the last of his small office knickknacks put away and his textbook out in his lap reading by the bright Colorado morning sun when a knock came to his door. He looked up and saw the man he recognized as the senior Science teacher, Randall Joyner. Joyner was a middle aged black man slowly going over to fat. He grinned at Thomas and walked on in.

“Can I come in Mr. Burke?” he said jovially.

“Sure thing, Mr. Joyner.”

Joyner settled into the chair, made himself comfortable. He looked around, his eyes getting a distant look.

“This is my old office, Burke. When old Murdoch retired last year, I took over his office – bigger and all. Has a better view too.”

“Well … umm, thanks, I think.”

“No problem. We science teachers have to stick together here in the halls of academia.”

“Thinking of sticking together, I’ve noticed something with the schedule.”

Joyner looked at him, still grinning, an unspoken Yes on his lips.

“I’ve noticed that you took all the junior classmen and I’ve got all the senior ones. Not that I mind, but it seems a bit odd. This is my first year teaching. Hell, this is my first year out of college. I thought for the sake of the graduating seniors you would want to make sure they do as much as possible.”

Joyner looked at him, his grin stuck in place. He was judging how serious his junior partner was. Seeing that he was serious … Randy Joyner began to chuckle. The chuckle became a laugh and that laugh became a full belly roar. His eyes watered and his body shook. Thomas looked mystified and slowly became a bit angered at being the butt of some unknowns joke.

“Oh, goodness me,” Joyner said, wiping a tear from his face, “I had forgotten how it was to be fresh out of the mill and new to the grind that is teaching. Poor boy, I got the animals, but you got the savages.”

“I didn’t give you the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades because it’s some kind of challenge. I gave you them because I had to suffer under them for the past twelve years and now it is my time to coast through the classes while you suffer their abuse.”

“Oh, come on. You make it seem like some kind of torture test.”

“It is torture, Mr. Burke; the worse kind. You are expected to get them ready for their college entrance exams their parents want them to take, while they don’t give a damn. The students don’t have any respect for you and actively seek to undermine your lessons and fall behind any sort of class plan. Then you have to put up with their out of class bull. You will have to face kids like Deacon Knight, but there is always a Deacon Knight. You get rid of one nightmare and a new one will arise.”

“That’s how these savages work. They break you down. They break into your office and fill your laptop with Internet porn, or steal exam answers, or put in false exams … oh, the list of what I’ve seen goes on and on. You’ll see, Mr. Burke. They are savages and we are the goalkeepers that must keep them in play until their senior year. We then pass them on to the colleges were they hopefully will get eaten alive and their dreams shattered.”

“I can’t believe that. I’m sure some are here to learn. I mean, why come to class if they aren’t here to learn?”

“We make them come. We drive them into classes with punishments and demerits. We threaten them with reports, class projects and tests with failing grades. We hold up the toothless specter of staying her another year. Of course we almost never do that. Roger has major kittens if we threaten to actually fail one of these over-paid, over-pampered savages.”

“They are children. We owe it to them to shape their minds and help them grow – to learn.”

“I was once that green. I can’t remember if I was that naïve, but I probably was once. Trust me it gets beaten out of you. They grind you down until all you will care about is the softest schedule and retirement with your fat pension. All the rest is a sea of brutal faces and wasted months. All a semester is the time between vacations. This entire job is a paycheck. Forget the rest.”

“Well, umm … thank you for the advice.”

Joyner rose up smile never leaving his lips.

“If you need any help, find someone who cares. Maybe you and the other new blood can hold hands as you slowly drown in your concern for your … own little jungle cannibals. I burnt all my old study plans the day Murdoch taught his last class. You are on you own. Welcome to Dalton.”

He left out the door with a spring in his stride and most likely that grin still on his face.

“Well, I’m not going to end up like him,” Thomas muttered. He went back to looking at his student roster and shook his head. So many of these kids had good grades and showed so much promise. Murdoch had done a good job with so many of these. He wished he had gotten to know the old man. It was curious though that all the women had their bra-sizes listed in their resumes. Boys had … well … he wasn’t even sure how you went about measuring them at all. That was most odd.

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