I taught first and second grade in a four room rural Catholic School. The principal was an elegant sister in the traditional Dominican white habit, which she gathered close around her whenever she entered my classroom. I was into nature and had pretty much filled my room with birds’ nests, rocks, weeds, feathers, fossils, pet insect-eating plants, and other dust catchers. This left little room for art supplies, which sort of spilled out of my “Fibber Magee’s Closet,” whenever I opened the doors. There was a small glass window in our door to the central hall and whenever the fire inspector came by, Sister would stand with her squared off headdress blocking the window and the fire inspector’s view of my room and closet.
On Fridays the parish priest would come after lunch and teach my class religion. Halloween fell on a Friday my first year there and since we were having a party right after Father’s class, I conspired with him to be prepared for me to come bursting in dressed as a witch, screeching scary things. I didn’t think to warn anyone else.
I do a very scary witch. (Perhaps some type casting involved?) When I slammed open the door doing my witch thing, it set off a panic. Some children dived under their desks, knocking a few over noisily in the process, others fought to get into the over-stuffed closet, and one or two climbed up on the windowsills. Every single child screamed at the top of their lungs.
Their older siblings immediately fought their way out of the other three rooms to come to the rescue of their little brothers and sisters, totally filling the central hall and leaving their teachers (and the principal) blocked into their classrooms. Bedlam reigned.
No one was hurt, order was restored, children were calmed and consoled, and the teachers called it quits on classes for the day.
I really am a well-intentioned fun person, but I’m pretty sure my principal considered me a mixed blessing.