How a student became a teacher without saying a word.
“Why is May 5th so important?” Mrs. Meyer tapped her fabled red marking pen against the edge of her seventh grade classroom desk.
The boy awoke from daydreaming about Cinco de Mayo when Jimmy Stallon poked him with his elbow, whispering, “I looked it up on Google. Here.” He handed John a folded scribbled note.
“Stand please and give your answer.” His teacher smirked, thinking she’d humiliate him again. The kid had a fantastic imagination but rarely put it to practical use.
“Uh. On this date in 1260, Kublai Khan, grandson to Genghis Khan became ruler of the Mongol Empire.”
Sally Smithers gave Johnny an adoring look. He blushed from head to toe, wiped imaginary sweat off his brow and sat down to the sound of titters among his classmates.
Mrs. Meyer tapped her long wooden pointer on her chair as she rose to tower over her pupils. “An important fact but of some rarity. Sally? Something to add?”
The young primadonna rose, bowed to Johnny and in her sing-song prissy voice announced, “To us Catholics, it was 553 when the 2nd Council of Constantinople opened the 5th ecumenical session. Mom always gives a special prayer to honor that important event.” She crossed herself, blew a quick kiss to anyone who wasn’t hiding their nose in their history book and sat.
Mrs. Meyer’s eyes flashed flames of fire. “I’m sure. But I had in mind something a bit more recent.”
She turned to her whiteboard to begin enlightening her class when Able Matthews sprang up. “My dad’s a proctologist. He says in 1741, John Archer, the American Congressman who received the 1st medical diploma issued on the US continent was born on May 5th, no but’s about it.”
More than a titter moved like a wave from back to front and back again in the rows of students. It seemed to the dawning awareness of Mrs. Meyers that the entire class had planned this uprising. “How good of you to share that. Now if you will please be seated.”
She couldn’t lose control or she’d never regain it the rest of the school year. Maybe for years after if word got out. “I imagine it is one of your mother’s birthdays as well?”
Several hands shot up eager to share. “It’s the fifth year in a row my mom’s been thirty-two. Dad says it is downhill from here and she’ll start counting backward until reaching her second childhood.” Sammy Durnhill exploded with that comment to delighted laughter.
Juan Garcia leaned on an elbow, stared out the window and began daydreaming about Cinco De Mayo once more. The whole class had been invited over to his neighborhood park to celebrate with his family and other Hispanics.
In the U.S. the day celebrated Latin American culture. There would be traditional homemade food, music, and games. He would wear his sandals and sarape over white cotton shirt and trousers. Juan thought he would make quite the dashing figure for Sally Smithers.
Mrs. Meyers was speaking again. “It is Mexico’s Independence Day. I’m surprised Juan Garcia doesn’t know that. Almost a third of America has Hispanic ties.”
Sally’s hand shot up but Mrs. Meyers ignored it, intent on spreading this fake news so commonly accepted as fact. A withering glance and Sally folded her arms in a silent huff.
All eyes turned to Juan who gave a slight shake of his head. Sometimes those having small authority had small closed minds. Arguing never opened them. The invitation from his parents was a note sitting idly on his teacher's desk yet to be opened.
If she chose to attend the celebration it might open her eyes during converstation to the date being observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s difficult victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zargoza. The Mexican day of Independence was actually September 16th and was the most important day of the year.
The bell rang to end classes for the day. Sally lingered at the door while Juan made up his mind and stood at Mrs. Meyers desk.
Juan caught the invitation before it fell into the garbage can. Mrs. Meyers was gathering her belongings ready to flee the horror of how her students had humiliated her.
“Please. My family and friends would welcome you as an honored guest if you would come to our Cinco De Mayo. We love our teachers and have much to learn from you.” Juan opened the gaily decorated envelope to reveal her name on the invitation to the gala park event.
“At least your parents know knowledge is the prize of any culture. Yes, I have a word or two to say about your daydreaming to your mother and father.”
Sally rolled her eyes from where she stood at the exit. Juan winked. “Thank you, Mrs. Meyers. We will be expecting you then.”
Sometimes students become teachers more so outside the walls of a classroom than teachers do within them.