Older Teacher Is Fired after Quarrel with Student’s Mom, She Begs Him to Return a Month Later – Story of the Day
A student's mother is outraged because she feels one of the teachers is too demanding of her precious son and has him fired -- then she sees his grades.
Margaret Yarrow was furious. She looked at the notes scribbled on the margin of her son Mark's latest science test and bit her lips. "You need to think your answers through" read one note. Another declared, "You can do better than that!"
Her son's final mark was a C+, not exactly a brilliant result especially considering how hard she'd seen him study for the test! Margaret was going to fix it if it was the last thing she did!
She called the school and asked to make an appointment with Mark's science teacher. She hadn't met him yet, since Mark had so recently been advanced to his class, but she didn't think much of his methods or his results.
Every day Mark had huge amounts of Science homework, and revisions, some of it stuff from the last two years! "What is this, Mark?" she asked.
Mark looked embarrassed. "Mr. Adrews says that I'm missing some basic principles from the 8th and 7th grade and that unless I catch up..."
Think before you act.
"Honestly, Mark!" Margaret said. "You did just fine last year with Mrs. Collins! You were a B+ student!"
So when Margaret went to the school three days later for her meeting with Mr. Andrews she was on the warpath. Mr. Andrews turned out to be a tall, thin man in his late sixties with a kindly face.
"Good afternoon," he said. "You must be Mark's mom."
Margaret stuck out her hand stiffly and said, "And you're Mr. Andrews, Mark's science teacher. I have to tell you, I don't like your methods."
Mr. Andrews raised his eyebrows. "My methods?" he asked, bewildered. "I don't understand what you mean!"
Margret pulled out a wad of papers and waved it indignantly under Mr. Andrew's nose. "Look at this! My son is spending HOURS studying 7th and 8th-grade textbooks and doing exercises! He's in 9th grade! And he still has THAT homework to do! You overwork my boy! He has a lot on his plate academically and doing sports too. And it's not as if he's getting good grades. He works hard and gets a C+? So how is all the work you're giving him affecting his grades? BADLY!"
Mr. Andrews was shaking his head. "Mrs. Yarrow," he said calmly. "You don't understand. Learning science is like building a pyramid. If the blocks at the base aren't solid, then every brick you lay on top is likely to just topple. That is what is happening with Mark. He is a bright, hard-working boy, and I know he wants to be a marine biologist...
"Science is essential. Where he is coming short on his 9th-grade work is in concepts that he should have mastered two years ago. That is what I'm trying to help him with."
"That's nonsense!" cried Margaret. "I saw his test results for the last two years. He had B's and B+ because Mrs. Collins was a great teacher. He has worse results with you because you are NOT!"
Mr. Andrews shook his head. "Look, Mrs. Yarrow," he explained. "Some teachers get the kids to learn the textbooks by heart. This means that it LOOKS as if they are doing well, but they are just parroting. They don't understand the underlying concepts, so when they need to apply it in a different context, they cant."
"So now you're saying Mrs. Collins didn't do her work?" Margaret screamed. "Everyone else is a lousy teacher and you're the best?"
"No," exclaimed Mr. Andrews. "Mrs. Yarrow..."
"You should be retired!" Margaret shouted. "You are over the hill and outdated, and so are your teaching methods! I'm going to the headmaster and I'll get you FIRED!"
The next afternoon, Mr. Andrews was called to the headmaster's office for a meeting. "Burt," the headmaster said to Mr. Andrews. "I had a complaint from Mrs. Yarrow..."
Mr. Andrews sighed. "She talked to me," he said. "She says I overwork the boy..."
The headmaster cleaned his glasses. "Burt, this isn't the first parent to make this complaint..."
"I know," Mr.Andrews said. "But you know what's going to happen to these kids! They will come short!"
"I think it's time for you to retire, Burt," the headmaster said. "Times have changed. Back in the day, academics was everything. Now the kids have to play sports, be socially active..."
"And the very bright ones will manage it all," Mr. Andrews said. "But the good, middling kids like Mark will not. They need more help, they have to work harder."
The headmaster just shook his head. "It's time, Burt. Retire, enjoy your life," he said.
So, Mr. Andrews, who had loved teaching, retired, and a week later the headmaster hired a new science teacher, a Mr. Tyrell. Mr. Tyrell was young and cool and funny.
Mark and all his friends loved Mr. Tyrell, but when the results for the semester came out, Margaret wasn't at all pleased. "A D?" she gasped. "You got a D? But you studied, I saw you! What went wrong?"
Mark had tears in his eyes. "I blanked, mom," he whispered. "Mr. Andrews always went over the work with me after class so I understood it, but Mr. Tyrell doesn't.
"Some of the old stuff I knew, but the new stuff Mr. Tyrell taught us I didn't know."
"Mr. Andrews..." whispered Margaret. "But he gave you so much homework..."
"He knew I needed to study more," Mark said. "He helped me a lot. I miss him a lot..."
The next day, Margaret called the headmaster and he very coldly told her he had nothing to do with Mr. Tyrell's methods, and that SHE hadn't been happy with the excellent Mr. Andrews. If he was gone, the headmaster pointed out, Margaret had only herself to blame! Margaret very humbly begged for Mr. Andrews' contact information.
A month after she had him fired, Margaret showed up at Mr. Andrews' house with a big bunch of flowers and an apologetic expression on her face. "Mr. Andrews," she said. "I owe you an apology..."
"Well," Mr. Andrews said. "I have to thank YOU! My wife and I are off on a cruise around the world."
"But please," Margaret gasped. "Please come back! Mark needs you!"
"Mrs. Yarrow," Mr. Andrews said gently. "You should have thought of that before you forced me into retirement. Now I've discovered I actually enjoy being my own man and spending time with my wife. Your boy is a good, hardworking kid, but he needs a little help. I'd advise you to move him to a school with a better science department and hire a tutor. He'll be OK!"
And that is exactly what Margaret had to do. Mark went to a new school and he had a tutor for math and science and he did very well. Margaret never forgot the lesson she learned from Mr. Andrews.
What can we learn from this story?
- Think before you act. Margaret was irritated by Mr. Andrews giving Mark extra homework and immediately demanded the headmaster fire him -- an act she came to regret bitterly.
- Work hard and you can do anything you set your mind to. Mr. Andrews taught Mark that if he worked hard enough he could achieve his dream of becoming a marine biologist.
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