Friday, August 20, 2010

Rumor Mill

Occasionally, a well-meaning soul will suggest that I should be paid for my Shakespeare Club efforts but, though I'm not one to look askance at cold, hard cash, in this case it would not be my preference.

As a volunteer I have certain advantages. One of these is autonomy. I can run the program as I see fit and with my rules. If I were paid I would likely come up against the sort of angst a sports coach often encounters, such as, "Hey, why's my boy not pitching?"

I can hear it now. "Why's my daughter not Juliet? She's perfect for the part."

It's not such a bad thing to be in the position where others are grateful and not so argumentative.

On the other hand, as I slide under the radar, I can be overlooked in a not-so-fun way. Important information has a habit of getting to me via a nine-year-olds and not from the higher-ups who should know better.

I'm fastidious about keeping teachers and other school officials apprised of dates and schedules regarding the Shakespeare Club. They're all given lists of names and rehearsal dates. Our school is super-tight on space and I have to book the auditorium well in advance to be assured of one day for a technical rehearsal and one day for the performance.

The time I spend rehearsing children is matched by the time I spend hammering out letters to adults. There is no guarantee, however, these missives are even looked at let alone read, as I would find out from a nine-year-old on the playground.

"Hey, Ms. Ryane, I think the fifth graders are going on a cruise on Wednesday."

"What? What cruise, what Wednesday?"

"They get a graduation cruise on the Wednesday we'll be practicing in the auditorium."

This couldn't be. It couldn't. No way. The day before performance and with only one single day to rehearse sound, lights and cues. No way.


I checked the facts with the principal and with the teacher arranging said cruise. Oopsie.

And then I went home, buried my face in a pillow and cried. I could use a friggin' cruise myself. Four club members, including two of our narrators, would be sailing the high seas with their classmates and missing this most important rehearsal.

It didn't matter that parents and staff had been reminded that membership in The Shakespeare Club required mandatory attendance.

It didn't matter that my words about teamwork suddenly meant zero.

It didn't matter that those children were being taught a terrible lesson.


My best friend is Phoebe. My job as her friend would to stop her and remind her to be good and do not be mean. The things I would remind her not to do would be bully, be rude, or not following directions. I also have a responsibility of lestening to her and having to keep secrets for her that are private.
Ellie, 4th grade


  1. You have an empathetic reader in P-town. I, too, volunteer with a school. It happened on a few occasions last year that I arrived to tutor only to discover that my pupils were on a field trip. Grr! The next session I made a point of telling the children, all kindergarteners, that I had come and asked them where they had been.
    "We was at the zoo," they said.
    "The zoo! I wish you had told me you were going. I love the zoo."
    "Maybe next time you could come with us."
    "Maybe. But you have to tell me before you go. Otherwise I'll be sitting here all by myself again." I made a sad face.
    "We're sorry Mrs. M. We'll tell you next time."
    Maybe I couldn't change the grown-ups' perception of me, but I think the kids learned the value of communication.

  2. It's true, the kids get it and then they suffer for getting it. What's up with that!


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