At the end of the day, the entire staff waved as the buses pulled away and parents left the car lane. We wished the fifth graders best of luck at middle school and told the rest that we’d see them next year. As I was waving to the kids on the buses, Kylie and Mrs. Kerr came over to me. After her suspension, Kylie came back a changed girl. She was diagnosed with ADHD with Oppositional Defiance Disorder. She was medicated for the ADHD and was seeing a therapist, Jane, for her outbursts. “Ms. Black?” came the contrite voice of Mrs. Kerr.
“Yes?” I replied, giving her a smile.
First off, I want to apologize for how I acted during that meeting. I thought that Kylie’s tantrums were due to the fact that we had moved and not anything else. When I saw the emails from her teacher in Portland, I knew there was something more going on but wanted to sweep it under the rug,” she said quietly. “I also didn’t want her to have a label and a special plan.”
“Those plans are not there to ostracize your child, but to help them,” I said.
“I see that now,” she chuckled sadly. “Kylie is doing well in school and we have you and Mrs. Whitlock to thank for that.” Mrs. Kerr crouched down to Kylie, who had been quiet the entire time we were talking. “Do you have something to say to Ms. Black?”
Kylie bit her lip, walking closer to me. I didn’t have in my class since I had become the assistant principal by the time she was allowed back to school. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Black. I shouldn’t have hit you,” she mumbled.
“Mommy said that I could have been in real big trouble but you didn’t do that.”
“Kylie, you were having a hard time. We all go through times like that,” I explained. “But it takes character to admit that you made a mistake and that you’re sorry for it. You’re a smart girl, Kylie. Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll rock out in second grade.”
She nodded, handing me a large gift bag. I thanked her, looking back at her mom. “Thank you again, Ms. Black. You are a great teacher and I’m glad that you had the courage to stand up to me and Kylie. Without you, she would have never gotten the help she needed.”
“Have a great summer, Mrs. Kerr. Don’t sleep in too late, Kylie,” I teased. The girl giggled, shaking her head. Mrs. Kerr guided Kylie to a large SUV and they drove off. They were the last family on the premises. The only people left on school grounds were the inflatable company and the exhausted staff of the Forks Puddle Jumpers.
Walking inside, Alice flopped down at the desk of one of the secretaries. She picked up the phone and made an all-call. “Attention all Forks Elementary Staff. Lock up your rooms. Go home. Have a beer. See you tomorrow at nine for check out and then…” she pressed play on the CD player on the desk and Alice Cooper’s voice filled the halls. Cheers erupted in the classrooms and everyone scurried out. The song ended and Alice turned to me. “You have a visitor, Bella.”