Calling Mrs. Gallagher

07/18/2012 4:00 AM |

“Damn it,” they say, and begin to kick at Mrs. Gallagher’s desk, the books rocking, the pens and pencils jiggling indignantly in the coffee cup.

Yet their attention is diverted, for suddenly Sarah, nearest to the window, unleashes a shriek that impels the other children to cover their ears. “There she is!” says Sarah, pointing to the dancing figure on the lawn. Children rush to the window. On the empty soccer field, along the west side of the school, they spot Mrs. Gallagher, barefoot and skipping through the grass, tossing into the bright afternoon sky a giant lime-green yoga ball, jumping after the rolling globe and achieving nearly full splits in the air, her gray-blond hair poofing about her head, the brown A-line skirt bunching at her thighs.

“She’s gone loony,” says George.

“My dad told me she’s always been like that,” says Brad. “Let’s go!”

And all the children run from the classroom, through the hallway of rooms brimming with unlucky students who did not win the lotto entrance into Mrs. Gallagher’s class this year; teachers peer out the doorways to watch Mrs. Gallagher’s children speed down the two flights of stairs, whooping and jumping; they burst through the red doors and out onto the soccer field, several holding hands and all skipping for Mrs. Gallagher who drops the giant lime-green yoga ball and opens her arms wide as if she will gather them all into one fantastic scoop when they reach her.

We should not blame certain members of the school board for having their doubts. They launched their investigation and finally, after months of spying though half-opened doors, checking exam scores and listening in on parent-teacher conferences, they have their results. It’s clear, the school board determines, Mrs. Gallagher is loved. We love Mrs. Gallagher, the children say…

R.J.: For her hair smells of lemons
Sydney: For she offers half her sandwich to the child who forgot her lunch
Erica: For she can leap and dislodge a pencil from the ceiling
Hank: For each part in the December play has an equal number of lines
Justin: For she tells the height-deficient child that one day he will grow
Nancy: For among all women, none can tuck her blouse into her skirt like she can, so that the cream-colored cotton puffs so elegantly about her motherly chest
Amy: For though I sometimes speak out of turn, she always lets me have my say
Tom: For she can plant a dot so forcibly upon the blackboard and announce, this is a point, or draw a diameter through the center of a perfectly constructed circle so that A = πr2 and C = 2πr and she says that I will become a physicist if I want
George: For she remembers the names of all our siblings
Brad: For if we are behaving badly, she will march into the boys’ bathroom, but she will give us warning first
Alyssa: For her eloquence knows no equal
Josh: For when the music teacher says we don’t improve, Mrs. Gallagher says he lacks an ear for talent though most of us—we each play a recorder—aren’t any good
Katie: For if we provide a serious reason, we may sit out the Pledge of Allegiance
Cody: For any student who laughs at my hearing aid will spend recess inside
Mike: For I saw her cry the day her father died
Sarah: For she never knows how many days till summer

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