Our New Student Teacher
A Short Story by Lukas Sherman
Written using the suggestion "Labor"
Originally featured on 08-02-2007
As part of our series "Out of the Sandwich"

Our new student teacher Mr. Parks thinks he’s cool, but he’s not. Just because he wears a Ramones t-shirt and talks about The O.C. (which nobody watches anymore, btw) and listens to rap?

How gullible does he think we are?


It’s like, we’ll be listening to our iPods and he always asks what’s playing and then he’ll have to say something about it, like he’s really with it and he gets the kids or something.

“Oh, Nirvana. Yeah, that’s like my era. I was in college when Cobain died. Heavy stuff. Green Day, come on, it’s 2006! The mall called, they want their punk back! Snoop Dogg? That’s some old school, yo!”


Seriously, he says yo! Who over 20 says yo? Even we don’t’ say yo. If there were any black kids in the class I’m sure they’d think it was stupid and maybe even racist because he’s white.


And he tries to act like he knows he’s not being cool when he does that, but really he still thinks he’s cool, which makes it worse. He’s like a little kid trying to impress you by doing something dumb and then pretending that he meant to do it. And he’s like 32.

Also, you can totally tell the kids he likes because he makes jokes with them and tries to get involved in their conversations, like he’s just one of us. We don’t think he has any friends of his own and that’s why he teaches and pretends to be our age. He probably wasn’t popular in high school and he’s trying to come back and be popular and funny and all that. He’s so not all that. He’s not even kinda that.


What he is, is a wanna be, a poseur. Sometimes he checks how he smells. We’ve seen it. He makes it look like he’s scratching, but really he’s sniffing his pits, which is nasty. He thinks nobody notices? Please. He puts on too much aftershave, so it’s not like we’d notice if he smelled. We also saw him pick his nose once.


It’s been like two months now with Mr. Parks. None of us really miss our regular teacher, Mr. Kenney. There’s not much difference between teachers; some grade easy and some grade hard. Mr. Kenney graded pretty hard and he was all proud of it. One time a kid told him “You gave me a C-.” Mr. Kenney said “You earned a C-. And just barely genius.”

Parks is easy because he wants to be our friends. He still gets sucked in when you say something like “it’d be cool if you let us work outside” or “maybe we should watch the movie of this.” Mr. Kenney didn’t care what we thought.


The guys like Parks better than the girls, mostly because guys get sick of all the woman teachers. They slap him five in the hall and started calling him “Parks & Rec,” which you can tell he totally loves, even though it’s kind of a joke. It’s a really stupid nickname, right?. Like “Hey Parks and Rec, how’s your pool?” So gay.


We don’t understand why anyone would want to be a teacher. They get their summers off, but the pay sucks and it can’t be much fun. We wouldn’t want to come back and deal with kids like us. It’s not that we’re bad, we’re just bored. And he’s all like super-excited about teaching us Shakespeare and Salinger and we’re like, “Great, books are neat. Now what the hell are we supposed to do with it?”


Seriously, what kind of kid dreams about being a teacher? When you’re young you want to be like an astronaut or a move star or a millionaire. Somewhere teachers’ goals get fucked up. “We’re going to get out of high school, then go and learn how to teach high school, and then go back to high school. To teach.” It’s totally retarded. Parks is old, so he probably failed at something else first. Thanks a lot, give the youth of America the drop outs from real jobs.


We shouldn’t be so mean, Parks isn’t bad. He tries and he likes us and he’s not that boring. He does pick favorites though. Most teachers do, even though they would never admit it. He likes Tim, who is a total kiss ass, and Bridgett, who he probably likes not because she talks all the time, but because she always wears these slutty low cut shirts. They’re like boob hammocks. Sometimes we think he forgets he’s at school and kinda looks at certain girls in a weird way, like Suchi, who never talks and sits in the back.


We asked him once if he had a girlfriend and he just laughed nervously and said something about it being “personal.” Which means “no” because he’d tell us if he did.

We can see why he doesn’t. He’s worn the same shirt like 4 times. It’s this cowboy shirt and it’s probably his only cool shirt, but it’s not even that great. Cowboys are out. Dakota was wearing red cowboy boots one day when he had on that shirt and he made some joke, calling her “cowgirl” and she was so embarrassed. We all started calling her cowgirl, which she hates, but her name is Dakota, so it makes sense. The first time he called role, he asked her if she was north or south.


One day last week, he didn’t seem as happy as he usually is. He even told Zach to shut up and then everybody went “Burned by the teacher!” And then he told the whole class to grow up. Meow. Teachers get like the sometime and you never know what their deal is because they’re not supposed to talk about their lives, just like they won’t tell who what they think about religion or politics. Which is dumb because aren’t we supposed to be learning about these things? A few of us came in a little early from lunch and he was sitting at the desk, listening to his weird music and eating a bagel and he looked almost depressed. Way to be a role model Parks.


Well, there’s only a month left. We’re acting out scenes from Catcher in the Rye, which is kinda gay, but it will be easy. We don’t even have to memorize it. There’s a hooker in one scene. Bridgett would be perfect. We can’t wait for summer. We probably won’t see Parks again, unless he gets a job here. That’d be kinda cool because we know him and he’d be easy. He needs a girlfriend and better clothes first though.

Read More By Lukas Sherman

COPYRIGHT 2006-2011
Portland Fiction Project

Archives Archives