3. First Day of Work
Chapter Three: First Day of Work
It was eight thirty when Willow walked through the doors of Hemery Junior High School. On the other side of the street was Hemery High School.
The halls were slowly filling up with students. Many eyed her with interest. Some boys even whistled at her. Apparently they thought she was a new student. She made her way to the principal's office and knocked on the door.
"Come in." said a woman's voice.
Willow opened the door and walked in. the office wasn't too big, but it wasn't small either. There were bookcases on one side of the room and in front of the window stood the desk. In front of the desk were two leather seats. Behind the desk sat a woman with blonde hair. She was maybe a few years older than Willow, but younger than most headmistresses. She had a kind smile and blue eyes.
"Ah, Miss Rosenberg. Welcome. I'm so glad that you can start work at such short notice. One of our math teachers just resigned and we couldn't find a substitute teacher. Please, sit down."
Willow sat down and smiled at her new boss.
"It's fine. I'm just glad that you hired me. To tell you the truth it was a bit unexpected. But a nice surprise." She said, smiling.
"Miss Rosenberg, I'll get straight to the point. Most teachers in this school are older than you, I am sure you know that. They like order and rules. They teach discipline. Children, they don't like being bossed around. They like teachers who they can talk to about their problems and not be shouted at. There is only one more person, apart from me, in this school to whom they turn to for help. Her name is Tara McClay. She is our guidance counselor. In fact, the three of us are the youngest ones on the staff. I like to think that I have a gift. That when I look at a person, or a teacher for that matter, I can tell what kind of relationship they are going to have with my students. When I look at you, I see a fresh new mind that is willing to share her knowledge with youngsters. I can tell that you are going to be very popular with the students. I must warn you though. The other staff members won't be so nice to you as I am. They will probably look down on you because of your age. So, I am counting on you to show them that age doesn't matter and that you are the right person for the job."
Willow smiled and blushed a bit.
"Most staff members should call me Miss Jenkins. But you and Tara have an exception. You can call me Anya. In and out of the office, at all times. I am here to be your boss, friend and helper. If you have any problems, please come and talk to Tara or me about them. Now, your first class starts in fifteen minutes. Your room is from now on room 314. All your lessons will take place there; all you have to do is wait for the students to come. All absences are written on a special piece of paper that is on your desk. You then put the paper in the small box outside of the classroom and hope that no student rubs out his or her name. You, of course, teach what's in the book. The method of how you teach is all up to you. I don't really care if you take them outside and give them stones to count. If you want to take them on a field trip, tell me at least a week early. I think that that's all you need to know for the time being. I wish you the best of luck."
Willow stood up.
"Thank you. I'll see you at lunch."
Anya smiled to herself as Willow left the room. Yes, this school wouldn't know what hit it.
Willow walked once again into the corridor, which was now full of students. She saw a boy standing across from her, looking at her with interest. He looked about fifteen, maybe fourteen. She walked over to him and smiled when he blushed a deep red.
"Hi. Could you tell me where room 314 is? This is my first day here." She smiled kindly at him and he relaxed a little.
"Hi. Yeah. Sure. This way." He squeaked and led her to the right. Together they walked almost to the end of the corridor, until the boy stopped and pointed to an open classroom door. It read, 314.
"I'm Andrew. I have math here too." He said, walking in.
"That's nice. I'm Willow. I have math here as well." She said, following him.
The classroom was quite big; it held about thirty seats. At the back of the room, Willow saw a TV and a Video and DVD player. Also a radio. Behind her was a big blackboard and next to her was the teacher's desk.
She put her bag on top of the table and sat on desk. Andrew was still looking at her.
"That's the teacher's desk."
"You shouldn't be sitting on it."
He smiled and sat down in one of the front desks. Willow looked at the clock on the back wall. It was 8:55. The first bell rang. More students were walking into the classroom, some of them looking at her, some of them not. Two boys sat down next to Andrew. They both had brown hair and brown eyes. One was shorter than the other. Andrew had blonde hair. As the second bell rang, the class was half full. There were probably fifteen students in all. Some of them were still talking; others were staring into space.
Willow jumped down from the desk, her feet hitting the floor with a thump. The students grew quiet.
"Morning all. My name is Willow Rosenberg and I am your new math teacher." She introduced herself.
Andrew's jaw dropped open.
"You're a teacher?" he asked.
"Yeah right. Lady, you don't look like a teacher to me." A boy in the second row said.
"Really? And what exactly does a teacher look like,...?”
"Connor. Well, teachers are supposed to be old and grumpy. Not young and cheerful."
Willow smiled as some of the students laughed.
"Well Connor believe it of not, all teachers were at one time young and cheerful. Being a teacher however, made them age faster. Most kids took away their cheerfulness and the stress of work got to them and they look older than they really are."
She now had everyone's full attention.
"So, like I said, my name is Willow Rosenberg. You are free to call me Willow or Miss Rosenberg, whichever you prefer. If you prefer neither and want to think up a nickname for me, I'm hoping it won't be The Terrible Bitch Monster from Hell. And if it is, I ask you not to call me that to my face."
The class laughed.
"For today, I decided that we won't study math."
The class cheered.
"That, however, does not mean that you can make noise and not listen to me." She said, smiling.
The class grew quiet again.
"Ok. Why don't we spend this lesson getting to know each other? I know, I know, it's lame, but I do want to know what kind of things you like and stuff like that." She said laughingly as the class groaned.
"How about we start off with me? You can ask me anything and I will answer." She suggested and sat back down on the teacher's desk.
"Wait, hold on. Is anyone absent? And I want the truth. No covering for friends, cause one way or another I'll find out and it will be on the heads of everyone involved."
Andrew looked around the class, counting.
"We're all here." He said.
Willow nodded and noted it on the paper that was on the desk, then stood up and went to the door to put the note in the small box. She looked up and down the hall, looking for skivers.
"She's cool." Andrew said.
"And hot." Connor added.
"To you, anything with a bra is hot, Connor." Said a girl in the front row.
Connor just shrugged.
Willow walked back into the classroom and sat on the desk.
"Ok. Who wants to start?"
Several hands went up.
"Are you married?" he asked. The girl next to him swatted him on the arm.
"No, I'm not married. I’m single. Andrew?"
"Um, how old are you?"
She pointed to the guy next to Andrew.
"Um, why did you choose to be a math teacher?"
"Well, I had to graduate with something. And math was by far the easiest subject for me, together with computer studies. So, those were my majors, I graduated and here I am."
"Did you always want to be a teacher?" said a girl in the front row.
"No, I didn't. I wanted to be an actress."
"Why didn't you do drama then?" she asked.
"Found out during one terrible play in High School that stage just isn't my thing."
The class stared at her.
"16? You waited till you were 16?"
"I didn't wait. It's just that before Oz, nobody else was interested." She said, her smile sliding a bit.
"So, um, any brothers or sisters?"
Willow shook her head.
"Are you a very strict teacher?"
"Depends on your definition of strict. Do I expect you to hand in your homework on time? Yes. Do I expect you to come to class on time, unless you have a bulletproof alibi? Yes."
"Will you, um, scream at us if we make a mistake or don't understand something even though you've explained it to us dozens of times?"
"Then you're not strict, just fair."
"Ok. Well, now it's your turn to talk about yourself. Andrew, why don't you start?"
"Ok. My name is Andrew, I'm 15. I like Star Trek, Star Wars and all that kind of stuff. Favorite subject, math from now on. One brother. Not much else."
"I'm Jonathan. I'm 15. I like to play chess, hang out with friends. I like all subjects as long as the teachers make them interesting. No brothers or sisters."
"Warren. 15. Favorite subject, computer studies. Hobbies: Star Wars, Xena, video games, food. No siblings."
The girl next to him had long wavy brown hair and big brown eyes, which were covered with glasses. She was smiling happily.
"Winifred, but call me Fred. I'm from Texas, moved here last year. No siblings. I like science, math, physics and chemistry. Not so good with the sports. I like to watch movies, listen to music, and hang out with friends, the usual. Oh, and I'm 14."
In the row behind her, the first occupant was another girl. She had blond hair and blue eyes. She wore expensive things for a girl her age.
"Julie. Head cheerleader of our cheerleading squad. I like to shop, hang out, shop some more. I'm 15. Favorite subject, don't really have one since all the teachers need to remind me that all I am is a stupid blonde. Ok, well, maybe sports."
The girl next to her was wearing a cheerleader outfit. She had brown hair and brown eyes, her hair swept up in a ponytail.
"Eliza. Also a cheerleader. I like to hang out with friends, and I'm hoping I can be famous when I grow up. I like sports as well, but also history. I'm 14, turning 15 in a month. I have a little brother."
Beside her sat a black boy, the only black boy in the class. His head was shaved and his eyes were a pretty milky brown.
"Charles Gunn. Kid sister. Sports, martial arts are my thing."
"Which martial art do you like best?" Willow interrupted him.
"Um, not really sure. I'd have to go with tae-kwon-do, I think."
"Hmm. I prefer kick boxing."
Gunn's face lit up.
"You do kick boxing? My God, you are so cool. Oh and I'm 15."
"Faith. 14. One sister, one brother. Sports. I like music, mainly metal and new metal, stuff like that. I like to play the drums. I like to skate board. Hang out, stuff like that."
In the third row behind her sat another boy. This one had brown hair and brown eyes as well.
"I'm Lindsey. I'm 15. I wanna be a lawyer when I'm older, so I mostly like English, debates and stuff like that. But, math also. I have a sister; she's sitting next to me. We're twins."
The girl next to him looked just like him, except that her hair was longer.
"Hi, I'm Lilah. I'm 15 too. I also want to be a lawyer. I like sports, and I really like to watch movies. I'm like a fanatic; I know all my tapes by heart. Music too."
The next girl had short brown hair and shiny brown eyes.
"My name is Amy. I like math, but the last teacher was terrible. Um, I'm interested in Wicca. I'm 15. I have a pet rat, but no brothers or sisters. I live with my dad, my folks are divorced."
The one next to her had been doodling on her notebook but now looked up. She had red hair and blue eyes and was smiling at Willow in one of the friendliest ways possible.
"I'm Alyson. I'm also interested in Wicca. And math is my favorite subject. I'm 14. I have a little brother, he's 10. I'm in the drama group."
The next boy also had red hair and blue eyes. His nails were painted blue.
"My name is Seth. I play the guitar in a band called "Dingoes ate My Baby." I'm 15. I like to change my hair color a lot. I have an older sister. I like math, but I prefer computer studies."
Connor was next. Like all the boys in the classroom, even he had brown hair and brown eyes.
"My name is Connor. I am 15 years old. I like to watch movies, hang out with my friends. My favorite subject I think would be biology. I have no brothers or sisters."
The last girl in the class was also a blonde. Her hair came up to her shoulders. Her blue eyes were dancing with mischief.
"Hi, I'm Janice. I'm a cheerleader. I do gymnastics and tap dancing. I'm 14 and I live with my grandparents, ‘cause my folks died when I was 5. I like music and math is ok."
And the last person in the class. It was also a boy and he had brown eyes and brown hair. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and some shorts.
"And last of all, I am Nick. I'm the class clown. I'm 14 and the chicks are crazy about me. I like to watch comedies and veg out in front of the TV with my mates."
Willow smiled at them all. They were a great class and she knew they would cooperate as long as she was nice to them and made them feel confident. The bell rang to signal the end of the lesson. One by one the kids left the classroom.
"Bye guys. I'll see you all tomorrow."
She had a free lesson after this so she went for a tour of the school. As she passed each classroom, there was complete silence in them, except for the droning voice of the teachers. God, Willow had hated some of High School so much. Especially the droning voices of some teachers. But other teachers were good. She walked the length of the hall and turned left into the cafeteria. It was a big one, filled with long tables set for at least twenty people each. It was pretty. There was an exit on the other side.
She walked into the yard, the sun shining down on her. It was a beautiful day. She walked to the other side of the yard and saw a huge football field, basketball court, tennis court and everything an American High School needs. She looked at her watch and saw that she had a lesson in ten minutes. Hurriedly she made her way back into the building.
"Excuse me miss. What are you doing out of class?" an old woman asked from inside a classroom. The whole class looked up. She smiled when she saw Andrew and his friends smiling at her.
"I'm sorry?" she asked politely.
The woman walked over to her.
"I asked you what you were doing out of class. Do you have a hall pass?" she asked.
Willow shook her head, smiling politely, as if confused.
"Well then you shouldn't be out of class. Class ends in five minutes and nobody else is here so I'm sure you don't have a free lesson, in which case you shouldn't be here either but should be in your homeroom."
"Oh, well you see, I'm new here."
"I see." The old lady eyed her with distaste. She saw the class stifling their laughter. "And from where did you transfer?"
"NYU." She answered.
"I don't think I've heard of such a High School."
"I know. That would be because such a High School doesn't exist."
The lady raised her eyebrows.
"Do you think lying to a teacher is funny miss? I could very easily give you detention for that."
"I'm not lying and no you couldn't." God this woman was so full of herself.
"And why not?"
"Because, I'm too old for detention."
"Really, how old are you?"
"28. And you?"
The lady sputtered.
"How dare you? Don't you know it's rude to ask a lady her age?"
"I learn from my elders."
"Young lady, you have some nerve. I am taking you to the headmistress."
"Cool. I've been meaning to have a talk with Anya."
"Anya?! Her name is Miss Jenkins."
"That is her last name. Her first name is Anya. But before we go there, allow me to introduce myself. I'm Willow Rosenberg, the new math teacher." Willow said, stretching out her hand.
The lady just gaped at her. The class behind her erupted in laughter. She turned around.
"Silence! Or I will have you all in detention."
"No you won't. The lesson is over. They have a right to laugh. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be going. My class starts in five minutes. It was nice meeting you." Willow said, walking off down the hall.
From her office, Anya smiled. Yes, Willow was doing a good job.
The rest of the day went by in a flash. The students all liked her and more or less everyone was willing to cooperate to her rules and standards. As Anya had suspected, the teachers didn't go out of their way to make her feel welcome. Some of them were polite; others just glared at her. The only staff members to have a normal conversation with her were Anya and Tara.
Tara was a very nice girl and revealed to be 27 years old. She had shoulder length brown hair and green blue eyes. She was somewhat on the shy side, but very smart and very friendly. The students liked her.
In the halls, outside and in the cafeteria, her students smiled or waved at her. Some of them even came up to her and asked her how she was and if she ever needed any help with anything to contact them. To say the least, she was happy. Never had her first day been so successful.
As the last bell rang, Willow stopped by in Anya's office for a little chat. Anya congratulated her and told her that so far she was reaching all of her expectations. Willow thanked her and left.
Looking at her watch she saw it was 3:30. She had to hurry. She was supposed to be there in 15 minutes.
Twenty minutes later she was knocking on the door.
* * *
Faith gaped at her aunt.
"What?! I am going to have a tutor in math?! Why?"
"Because your grades are slipping. And she is not only going to tutor you, she's going to tutor Wesley as well. And help you take care of your sister." Buffy answered calmly.
"But I thought you did that."
"I used to do that. Your dad and I had a fight. I've been missing work and I might get fired. You'll like her, trust me. She's my best friend and she loves kids. Just give her a chance; it's all I want. If you don't like her, she can go."
Faith rolled her eyes and nodded.
"Wesley! Bring Dawn and come down here!" she called upstairs.
There was a knock on the door.
"Can you get that please?" Buffy asked as she saw Wesley trying to get Dawn to come downstairs.
Faith walked to the front door and opened it.
"Miss. Rosenberg. Hi. What are you doing here?" she asked, shocked to see her new math teacher standing in front of her house.
"Faith. Hi. Um, judging by the address, I think I'm here to tutor you and your brother in math. Can I come in?"
Faith nodded, still in shock. She stepped out of the way and Willow walked into the hall. The door shut behind them.