Monday, August 24, 2015

The 300 Days: Part 9 - The Guillotine and The Holding Cell

Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8
- Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood
For a few moments, Mr. Evans explained the scenario to Will, and the process of hiring teachers, both evaluating and maintaining them.  But rather than offer concrete answers to Will, or even words of assurance, Mr. Evans gave rather opaque responses.
"Sometimes it isn’t a good fit.  For example, we had a teacher who came from high school that was used to older students.  If I recall, you came from elementary…”  The clincher was how Mr. Evans explained how evaluations were conducted, as he continued: “these things aren’t even really my call.  I turn in the paperwork to central office, and the assistant superintendent basically decides who stays and who goes.”
For months, Will had been duped.  He had been deceived by a sheep in wolf’s clothing wearing sheep's clothing.  Mr. Evans had maintained a front of being supportive and kind; behind the scenes he was manipulative, spiteful, and cold-hearted, likely from the fact that he had his own professional insecurities.  If only there was a single term to summarize the character of Mr. Evans…
Will went ahead and scheduled his third observation, knowing very well it was a fruitless endeavor.  He had no intention of going quietly, and knew that no matter what happened, he was going to lay everything out on the table.  Like the old sports addage goes, Will played “for pride”;  pride for himself, but also for his fellow teachers, who knew of his plight, and his students.  His fate was already sealed, but the court of public opinion could weigh in, and heavily at that.
Everything Will had fought for, the relationships that he had built, the clashes with Miss Marley, everything was burning up before his eyes.  He had been trying to solve a puzzle with half of the pieces.  Once his services were no longer required, he saw things for what they were:  Mr. Evans’ feedback was nothing more than a wild goose chase.  As Will retraced his steps and interactions with Mr. Evans, he realized that no matter what he did, no matter how much he improved and what he improved, it was never going to be enough.  Mr. Evans had made his decision on Will’s fate back in October, with Miss Marley credited with the assist.

Will’s third “lame duck” observation came and went, hours upon hours sacrificed once again.  The post-conference was scheduled two days after the formal observation, and Will’s plan was to straight up ask Mr. Evans “what is my status in this district?  I want to be here and continue my career, but if that is not the case, I need to know as soon as possible so that I can update my resume and applications.”  However, the meeting was delayed until the following Wednesday, after school…

The final bell rang on Wednesday, and Will was monitoring his leftover “bussers” in his 8th period class when Mr. Evans walked into his doorway and asked if he could speak with him.  Will assumed this was student related, as there were many issues that year. However, once Will entered the hallway, Mr. Evans began:
“Hey, I know we are supposed to meet here in a little bit, but I wanted to let you know that the assistant superintendent is going to sit in our conference.”
That feeling again.  Like being dropped.  Still, Will gave an excitable “sure, no problem.”
As the last student left, Will gathered his artifacts for the conference, and sauntered down the hallway, like a felon on death-row.  When he walked into the conference room, the assistant superintendent introduced himself, shook Will’s hand, and gave him a letter asking him to attend a “meeting” that Friday that would discuss his future with the district. "What future?" Will thought to himself.  With that, he promptly left.
“I didn’t know he was stopping in,” Mr. Evan’s said, breaking the brief silence.
“It’s whatever,” Will replied indifferently.
“Did you still want to go through the post-observation?” Mr. Evans asked.
“Sure,” said Will.  Mr. Evans had pretty much wasted his time for all of this, so the least Will could do was waste some more of his.
After going through the motions of the observation, Will asked whether the letter was an indication that he was going to be non-renewed.
“Typically, yeah,” Mr. Evans replied.  He then reminded Will once again that he wasn’t responsibly for any cuts in staff, “the superintendent and HR director do that," as if to reassure Will "yes, I am a coward. I was the only person to observe you this year, and I filled out all the paperwork that allowed for a decision to be made. I don't pull the trigger on these types of things. I simply buy the gun and ammunition, load it, and aim it between your eyes."

On his lowly drive home, Will called three people.  First, he called his district’s union president, who informed Will that this is a sign that he is going to be non-renewed by the district, and that he could either accept it, or he could tender his resignation.
The second person he called was a representative from the Central Ohio Teacher’s Association, who informed him “you could be an amazing teacher and the greatest thing since sliced bread.  But since you are in your first year there, all they need to do is fill out the correct paperwork.  They don’t need any rationale to let you go.”
Finally, Will called his fiance and broke the news.  They had both suspected it, but it was a tough pill to swallow.  She cried over the phone as they both pondered what they were going to do.  It’s hard to plan for a future together when 50% of the relationship’s members have zero clue what they're is going to be doing the following year. It was quite possible she would be exchanging vows with the unemployed.
Will’s mind was a broken record, replaying all of the steps and interactions he had had that year.  What he could have done better, how we could have made things right.  As he did this, he pondered to himself:  “is this a sign that I shouldn’t be in teaching?”
Lord knows he spent hours and hours searching, applying, and interviewing to land this one job, that one district he thought he could remain for the duration of his entire career.  But after this entire ordeal, after all the drama coming from all corners, after enduring the back-stabbing from Miss Marley, after being turned in by a weasel, maybe this was the world’s way of telling Will to change his shoes, and walk a different path.

The shadowed figure, confined to his cell, slowly pushed the earth away from his body with his palms.  Sweat ran down his naked back, that not weeks earlier, was ailing from a bulging disk.  He looked up to an old television, broadcasting the mayhem swarming Gotham City.  The corpses of three bodies dangled by their necks from a bridge.  Horrified and furious, the man launches a rock toward the broadcasting device, shattering the screen, interrupting the image that would personify the terrorism that was surrounding Gotham.
The need to act pulsated through his veins, as he hammered out stomach crunches inside his cell.  His body must be built up.  He was not going to die here.
“Fear is why you fell,” his elderly cellmate declares.
For a moment, the motion stops.

“I’m not afraid,” Bruce Wayne replies sternly, “I’m angry...”

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