I rushed to school to make it to my sub job. It was my first day at this particular school, and I didn’t want to be late. I hurriedly dropped Ari off at Pre-K and headed to the main office of the school where I would be subbing.
I realized, when I got to the office, that I hadn’t brought my sub license. The secretary was nice enough to let me print my license off of my gmail on her computer.
Unfortunately, the Assistant Principal walked in as I was behind the secretary’s desk and whispered to the secretary:
“What’s going on here?”
“Oh she’s just printing her license.”
The A.P. nodded skeptically.
“The day starts at 8:00 so hurry up and punch in.” The secretary urged me. It was 8:10. Uh oh.
“You know what, I’ll punch you in, don’t worry about it.” She said with a wink.
I grabbed my coffee that I had hurriedly bought from the bodega on the corner while running to school, and headed to the auditorium with my schedule. I peered at the white paper which listed eight different classes I’d be covering that day.
All at once, the A.P approached me. She shook her head and pointed to the coffee:
“The coffee.” She said plainly.
“Oh, okay. ” I said totally flustered. “I’ll throw it out.” I had only drank 1/4 of this terrible deli coffee, but it wasn’t nearly enough to fuel me for the day I had in front of me. I despondently tossed my 75 percent full cup of mediocre coffee into the garbage can.
It was clear to me that I had to redeem myself to the A.P. Coming in late, bringing in a coveted beverage. She clearly hated my guts, or at least thought I was some sort of entitled flake.
We got to talking, and I told her that I was potentially interested in doing a theatrical production with 5th graders. Her eyes lit up.
“That sounds great!” She beamed. “We’d really like to make this an arts school.”
I told her about my subbing history at other schools around Brooklyn.
“I know this is kind of a weird question, but I’m really into astrology, what sign are you.” I asked.
“Oh! I’m a libra.” She said without hesitation.
“Me too!” I all but exclaimed.
She asked me about my chai tattoo, she showed me the tiny tattoo on her hand.
She told me about her teaching history, how she had taught and moved her way up to eventually become the A.P. I was impressed. I forgave her for making me throw out my coffee.
“You know who you might talk to about theater projects?” She said raising an eyebrow. “The dance teacher here.”
“Oh okay. That sounds great.”
It was my prep next, so I took the opportunity to find the dance teacher. All of a sudden a vision struck me. I knew what I could do here. And I began to speak to the dance teacher with total and utter confidence about it.
“When I was in the 5th grade at P.S.87,” I began “We created an original opera. Everyone in our class had a role. There were carpenters/set builders, actors, writers and public relations people. The Metropolitan Opera came in and helped us create this piece. I think I could do that here. I have an extensive theater background, and with your help, I think we could create this piece.”
“That sounds awesome!” She said. Just then the music teacher entered her room.
“Hey, listen to this.” She said nudging the music teacher in the arm.
I re-told my idea. She, too was excited. Both they were both nervous.
“How would we fit it into the curriculum?” Asked the music teacher. “We have a set curriculum that we’re doing now.”
“Well, as long as it doesn’t interfere, ” said the dance teacher “I don’t see why not! You should ask the principal!” She said. “She wants to make this school an arts school.”
“I’m afraid,” I said “She’s the principal.”
“No, no. Don’t be afraid,” urged the dance teacher “She’ll eat it up.”
“Is there a particular class that might be interested in doing this?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, there is.” Said the dance teacher.
The dance teacher told me about a 4th and 5th grade gifted and talented class that she said would love to engage in this project. I walked up the stairs to this teacher’s room. When I told her the idea, her eyes lit up.
“This sounds great! We could arrange a trip for the kids to see the opera!”
I was on a high. I decided it was time to visit the principal.
I walked into the office, miraculously I was ushered into the principals office. The principal was joined by the arts enrichment coordinator. They looked at me and waited for me to speak.
“I have an idea..” I began, and I told her about the opera. Her face stayed stoic.
She began to speak:
“It sounds great.” She said. “But you’d have to open it up to all the 5th graders, we don’t want to favor a certain class.”
“That’s great,” I began, “But I can only handle about 15 kids.”
“The first 15 that sign up are yours.”
We determined the at the best time to do this would be after school. That way it wouldn’t interfere with academics.
“You know, this is wonderful,” The principal said “We’re looking to hire a theater teacher next year.”
“I was hoping that could be me.” I said with confidence. After I said it, I blushed. I couldn’t believe how blunt I had just been.
The principal turned to her enrichment coordinator and said “I’m not mad at her.”
“I’m sorry to be so brazen.” I said.
“No.” Said the principal. “I like brazen. You’re straightforward.”
That’s the story of how I turned a thrown out coffee into an opera.
Excuse me, I have a sign up sheet to make.