'My Teacher's Secret Life'


March 08, 2000|By Stephen Krensky

Editor's note: After seeing his teacher at the mall and in the park, a young boy begins to think she has a secret life outside of school.

I know everything about my new teacher, Mrs. Quirk. Her first name is Isabelle. She bites her lip when she's thinking hard. And she has eyes in the back of her head in case we try anything funny.

Once a week Mrs. Quirk takes us to Miss Painter's art room. It's the only place in the school where we can make a mess on purpose. When Mrs. Quirk comes back, she doesn't always recognize us.

Every day at three o'clock, Mrs. Quirk says good-bye to us. She doesn't have to leave, though, because she lives at school with all the other teachers.

I can imagine what happens after we're gone. First, Mr. Crumple, the custodian, leads a trash patrol through the halls. Litter, he says, is no one's friend.

Then the gym teacher, Miss Whistle, makes everyone do exercises. Mrs. Quirk stands in the back because she has trouble touching her toes.

All that running around makes the teachers hungry. The cafeteria staff cooks their meals, putting stuff together from the lunchtime leftovers. Potato-puff soup and macaroni bread show up a lot.

While the teachers eat, Mr. Stern, the principal, watches closely to make sure everyone behaves.

After dinner, the librarian, Mr. Peruse, reads stories aloud. Miss Painter covers her eyes during the scary parts. Nothing frightens Mrs. Quirk, but she makes faces if the story is too mushy.

Later the teachers return to their rooms. They all keep pajamas and inflatable mattresses in their bottom left desk drawer, the one that locks with a key.

Sometimes the teachers have pillow fights in the hall. Mrs. Quirk swings her pillow like a baseball bat. The flying feathers usually make her sneeze.

At bedtime, Mrs. Quirk washes her face, brushes her teeth, and sings a lullaby to our fish.

Sometimes she makes shadow animals in the moonlight before she falls asleep.

Lately, though, I have been wondering if I know Mrs. Quirk so well after all. One Saturday I saw her in the supermarket filling up her cart. I wondered what she was doing. There's always plenty of food in the cafeteria.

Then last Tuesday I saw Mrs. Quirk again, trying on skates at the mall. She didn't look like a teacher one bit.

I don't know what she did with the skates. She never wears them in class or at recess. Maybe she races down the hall late at night.

Yesterday was my biggest surprise yet. I saw Mrs. Quirk in the park with a strange man and a girl. The girl looked like Mrs. Quirk, only younger. The strange man even put his arm around Mrs. Quirk. She didn't seem to mind.

I've been watching Mrs. Quirk extra carefully ever since.

In class she acts just the same. She still knows who pushed who first. And who tracked in all the mud from the playground. And she still bites her lip while she's thinking.

Mrs. Quirk must figure she has everyone fooled. But not me.

I know Mrs. Quirk has a secret life. I just wonder when the other teachers will get suspicious.

Excerpted from the book MY TEACHER'S SECRET LIFE. Text copyright c 1996 by Stephen Krensky. Illustrations copyright c 1996 by JoAnn Adinolfi. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., Children's Publishing Division. All rights reserved.

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