Rosemary Hood was a bright, blond seventh grader who entered my seventh-grade Gifted English class in September of 1998. She introduced herself to me before the first bell of her first day.
“I am definitely on your class list because my Mom says I belong in gifted classes.”
“Your name is Rosemary, right?”
“Definitely. Rosemary Bell Hood, related to the Civil War general John Bell Hood.”
“Um, I don’t see your name on my list.”
“Well, I’m supposed to be there, so check with the attendance secretary. And I will be making A’s all year because I’m a werewolf and I could eat you during the full moon if you make me mad at you.”
I laughed, thinking that she had a bizarre sense of humor. I let her enter my class and issued her copies of the books we were reading. Later I called the office to ask about her enrollment.
“Well, Mr. Beyer,” said the secretary nervously, “the principal is out right now with an animal bite that got infected. But I can assure you that we must change her schedule and put her in your gifted class. The principal would really like you to give her A’s too.”
So, I had a good chuckle about that. I never gave students A’s. Grades had to be earned. And one of the first rules of being a good teacher is, “Ignore what the principal says you should do in every situation.”
But I did give her A’s because she was a very bright and creative student (also very blond, but that has nothing to do with being a good student). She had a good work ethic and a marvelous sense of humor.
She developed a crush on Jose Tannenbaum who sat in the seat across from her in the next row. He was a football player, as well as an A student. And by October she was telling him daily, “You need to take to me to the Harvest Festival Dance because I am a werewolf, and if you don’t, I will eat you at the next full moon.”
All the members of the class got a good chuckle out of it. And it was assumed that he would. of course, take her to the dance because she was the prettiest blond girl in class and he obviously kinda liked her. But the week of the dance we did find out, to our surprise, that he asked Natasha Garcia to the dance instead.
I didn’t think anything more about it until, the day after the next full moon, Jose didn’t show up for class. I called the attendance secretary and asked about it.
“Jose is missing, Mr. Beyer,” the attendance secretary said. “The Sherrif’s office has search parties out looking for him.” That concerned me because he had a writing project due that day, and I thought he might’ve skipped school because he somehow failed to finish it. When I saw Rosemary in class, though, I asked her if, by any chance, she knew why Jose wasn’t in class.
“Of course I do,” she said simply. “I ate him last night.”
“Oh. Bones and all?”
“Bone marrow is the best-tasting part.”
So, that turned out to be one rough school year. Silver bullets are extremely expensive for a teacher’s salary. And I did lose a part of my left ear before the year ended. But it also taught me valuable lessons about being a teacher. Truthfully, you can’t be a good teacher if you can’t accept and teach anyone who comes through your door, no matter what kind of unique qualities they bring with them into your classroom.