When a Charming Teacher almost Ruined my Career
It is often said that men will do dumb things, including forsaking their families, in order to please a skirt wearer when the fools themselves can be dumped for another 'enterprising' broke around the corner. This maxim holds true as I discovered after falling over myself trying to please a female teacher some years back.
As I reminiscence over this, I have to come to conclude that indeed women and business do not mix, and trying to experiment with both can be a recipe for disaster.
After my ECDE diploma, I started my teaching career in a private school run by an American Christian organization. They had first set camp in our village where they had come to help eradicate the jigger menace before coming up with a health center. These missionaries later decried the high illiteracy level prevailing and came up with a 'noble concept' of establishing a school to address this – not that there were no schools about. This was before the advent of free primary education and it wasn't an unusual sight to see school going children working alongside their parents in the rich peoples' farms to help eke a living tilling gardens.
Although I attended a government school, I was amongst the beneficiaries of missionaries’ philanthropic works and I was sponsored through secondary and college education. The missionaries had put a 'cap' that those who benefited from their programme were in turn to help benefit their community in 'giving back' to the society. This was how I found myself teaching in their now expanding school though the startup salary was a pittance.
Most of the staff comprised of unmarried young teachers with the gender ratio disproportionately favouring the males. Despite the school's strong Christian ethics, we male teachers flouted every rule on the book competing for the attention of the few female teachers who felt very intimidated.
I vividly remember during a morning assembly how a petite looking lady came in tow with the headmaster and was introduced to the pupils as Teacher Rahab. She was to be in charge of religious studies in classes six and seven and was a recent college graduate. If a new female teacher was to come at this rate, it wouldn't have been long before the gender disparity was brought at par.
Teacher Rahab had a soprano feminine voice that carried above the rest. It was soothingly soft to compliment her angelic looks. She was medium built and in mid twenties. What a lass! I found myself wondering. I could see my male colleagues were profoundly quiet in her presence.
Because I'm greatly endowed with persuasive speaking skills, it wasn't long before Madam Rahab fell to my witticism. We were gelling on well much to the surprise of other staff members. We at times forgot we were in a working environment and was the only pair openly coupling. Tongues started wagging prompting the headmaster to convene an impromptu staff meeting.
It was midweek and the staffroom was virtually empty with teachers having left for classes. The head teacher dispatched a class eight boy with a paper slip written; 'Urgent staff meeting at 11:15', asking every teacher to report to his office. The note had effect of withdrawing all of us from classes considering the said time was only five minutes away.
Having thus availed ourselves to the principal's office, we being seventeen teachers in total, the head teacher wasted no time in any preliminary talk but gave us all a hard glare. I found his hard looks directed my way and a condescendingly one at Rahab.
“I want to make this plain,” thundered the headmaster, “it has come to my attention some members of this staff are behaving in a way as to imply this school is a breeding ground of some sort of sensual emotions and not a working place!”
Five of my male colleagues smiled my way.
After a lengthy moral talk, the staff was dismissed with a “go back to the classes, but Mr Vincent and Madam Rahab are asked to be left behind.”
I'd to explain verbally and in writing why I wasn't to be demoted to teach lower classes as punishment. Madam Rahab had the head demurely exonerating her and laid the onerous of blame on me.