Mr. Soren’s tone is derisive. “I already explained it. Read the chapter again if you don’t understand.”
“It isn’t my job to coddle you. I won’t baby you or treat you like sweet little puppies. That’s what Mommy and Daddy are for.”
Ainsley starts to cry. I’m sure right now she is regretting raising her hand.
I, meanwhile, am in shock. I have just witnessed a high school educator berate a student simply asking for guidance. Though taught to respect my elders, I cannot help being disgusted.
“If you could just-” Ainsley tries again.
Mr. Soren huffs, his face and receding hairline growing beet red. “Figure it out or fail. If you think you’re smart enough to be in here, you should be smart enough to keep up with the lessons. It is your choice if you flunk. That’s not up to me.”
“Yes, it is,” I hear my voice. The entire class looks at me. I feel myself stand from my desk. My hands are shaking. I press them against my desktop to steady them. “It is up to you. You’re a teacher who doesn’t teach. If we fail, we are not entirely at fault.”
I hear some fellow students take in a breath.
“Does this seem like a good idea?” Mr. Soren asks me.
“It’s the best idea I’ve had since signing up for this class.” My instructor opens his mouth to speak, but I refuse to let him. I hurriedly continue. “You’re wrong if you think we are choosing to fail this course. Ainsley was asking for assistance. You need to apologize to her.”
I notice Ainsley watching me with crusty tears on her face and give her a slight smile. Then, I look back at our teacher.
Mr. Soren shakes his head in disbelief. “You’re a waste of potential. Forget about her. Do your homework.” He starts to walk away again.
“Do your job. If you can’t help us, what good are you as an educator?”
My entire class erupts in cheers. Mr. Soren, on the other hand, looks like his head might explode. “Principal’s office,” he shouts at me. “Now!”
I don’t argue. As I collect my books, I recognize this is the first time I have stood up to someone. I walk to the closed door and turn to take one last look at my classmates. They are all sending me expressions of gratefulness mixed with awe. I may never set foot in this room again, but it was worth it. We all came to a collective realization: we won’t let him break us. I head to the office to learn my fate, knowing I would do it again.