Teacher scolds a boy for coming late to class and demands to meet his parents. But the boy doesn’t show up the next day, and only his grandma comes saying he is sick. The unconvinced teacher pays a surprise visit later only to discover that the boy’s life is far more troubled than he thought. It was Mr. Morgan’s first day as a teacher in this school. He arrived early, skimmed through the lecture he intended to give his pupils, and everything seemed perfect, just as he had wanted that morning.
As a young first time teacher, Mr. Morgan was determined to establish himself as strict but fair. He wanted his pupils to know he was a cool mentor, but not the one to be messed with. The chatter in grade seven stopped as soon as Mr. Morgan walked in and plopped his register on the table. Children sworn back to their seats in a pin drop silence followed as he introduced himself as their new history teacher. And as Mr. Morgan launched into the lecture on the Great Depression in World War II, the classroom door suddenly creped open. A hush fell over the class as everyone turned to see who was interrupting their lesson.
A boy walked in with his eyes fixed on the floor and took his seat without uttering a word or looking up at the teacher. Good morning, young man, said Mr. Morgan, his voice stern. It’s nine 15 and you’re 20 minutes late for class. Do you have a good reason? But the boy just sat without responding to Mr. Morgan.
Could you please stand up and introduce yourself, Mr. Morgan added. I’m Archie, replied the boy as he rose and looked up, rubbing his tired eyes. Archie looked very untidy and dizzy, as though he hadn’t slept a wink the previous night. Nice to meet you, Archie. I’m your new history teacher. You’re late for class, aren’t you? Do you mind telling me why? You just walked in without excusing yourself, and I won’t entertain such behavior in my class. Archie hesitated for a while. I’m sorry, sir. I overslept. I didn’t mean to come in late. I was just tired and I’ll not repeat it, sir. Archie finished, unable to control his yawn, and the whole class giggled. Silence, Mr. Morgan declared. Archie, you cannot be late for a class like this. Can I see your homework? I heard your previous history teacher gave you your assignments every weekend.
Show it to me, will you? As Mr. Morgan flipped through Archie’s notebook, his expression grew uneasy. I didn’t do it, sir, Archie said sheepishly, refusing to tell why. That’s when Mr. Morgan’s patience started wearing thin and he exploded at the boy. Archie, what is this and this? You haven’t done any of your homework this whole term. He scoldded the boy in front of the whole class. This is unacceptable and I cannot entertain such a demeanor in my class.
I want to meet your parents tomorrow first thing, all right? Is that clear? Archie felt embarrassed and ashamed. He could hear his classmates whispering things about him and giggling. But Archie never showed up in class the following day and Mr. Morgan started to worry. I hope I didn’t scare him or something. I just wanted to help him, said Mr. Morgan as he packed his belongings and prepared to leave. Just then, he noticed an older woman seemingly in her 80s waiting outside the classroom. Excuse me, are you looking for someone? Mr. Morgan asked her. I’m Willow Parker, Archie’s grandmother. Oh, nice to meet you, Mrs. Parker. Archie didn’t come to school today. Is everything all right with him?
No, my grandson was a little sick today morning, so I told him not to go. Archie told me you wanted to meet his parents, so what do you want to discuss? My daughter couldn’t come. Mr. Morgan sensed the tension in the woman’s words. I hope Archie feels better soon. You see, I just wanted to ensure Archie gets the help he needs to keep his grades up. He hasn’t done his homework this whole term, and I hear he’s always late to class.
Archie’s grandma seemed unconvinced and kept arguing with Mr. Morgan. Did you check everyone else’s homework and assignments, and are you meeting with all their parents? Archie’s mom has been unwell for a while, but I’ll tell her to visit shortly if that’s fine with you. And I’m grateful to you for being so concerned about my grandson, but don’t worry, Mr. Morgan, we’re there to help him. Mr. Morgan couldn’t help but feel frustrated. I don’t think it will help him in the long run. I want to meet his mother soon. The woman grumbled and argued no more, and as Mr. Morgan escorted her out of the corridor, she ran into the principal, Mr.
Smith. Good afternoon, Mrs. Parker. Is everything all right? The principal asked, noticing the distress on grandma’s face. Archie’s grandma explained the situation to him and left. Mr. Morgan, can you please come to my office? Mr. Morgan nodded as he followed the principal to his office. He was partially relieved he might finally get some answers that could help the boy. Mr. Morgan, Archie’s a wonderful boy, and I feel very sorry for what he’s been through, began Mr. Smith. His father was killed in a motorcycle crash some years ago. His mother’s been dealing with some issues since then. She got into a lot of trouble. Let’s not get into that, Mr. Morgan. Let me come straight to the point. The faculty has decided to expel Archie next month.
Mr. Morgan couldn’t believe his ears. What? Are you going to expel that boy? But why? Mr. Smith, I understand that Archie has had a very difficult life. Maybe he’s troubled with something. We’re yet to know why his grades have been dipping, but we can’t just dismiss him like that. We need to help him. I understand your point, Mr. Morgan. We’re all sorry for Archie’s troubled past and whatever he’s going through now, but we have a responsibility to our other students as well.
We’re an esteemed institution and we’re compelled to maintain our academic standards, the principal explained in a firm tone. But Mr. Smith, where will he go if we expel him? This school is Archie’s only chance for a better future. He needs our support, that too, in such a hard time. We cannot just let him go. What if he’s sent to some school for disadvantaged children? He might end up on the wrong track, get into drugs and crimes. That’s even crueler, Mr. Smith. Archie needs our help, and I’m sure he can do much better with proper guidance, Mr. Morgan argued.
We’ve given Archie enough chances, but that boy hasn’t shown any improvement. He’s setting a bad example for all our students and is tarnishing our average academic performance statistics, Mr. Smith replied. Mr. Morgan felt defeated and sorry for Archie. He pleaded with the principal to reconsider his decision, but in vain. I know you’re worried, Mr. Morgan, but this is how our school functionsand you need to get used to our system. We can’t continue to tolerate his behavior and poor performance. Mr. Morgan, you have one month to submit your assessment of Archie so that I can expel him legally and with proof, Mr.
Smith explained. And I don’t think you’ll be forced to make up a lie. Archie will make the job much easier for you with his lowest grades this term, Mr. Smith Chuckled. Mr. Morgan left the office feeling disappointed. Archie’s whole future was about to get destroyed, and he didn’t know what to do to help him. That same evening, he drove to Archie’s address to meet with his mother and warn her about the boys’ impending expulsion. He knocked on the door for a long time, and when nobody answered, he pushed it open himself.
As Mr. Morgan stepped inside, a pungent aroma of stale alcohol washed over him. He called out, and what he encountered next made him stop in his tracks. Empty whiskey bottles were scattered on the floor. The sheer number of bottles stunned Mr. Morgan. Before he could fathom what was going on, a voice startled him from behind. Archie’s grandma was surprised at seeing the teacher in the living room. Mrs. Parker, hey, nice to meet you again. I just wanted to meet Archie’s mother, and Mr. Morgan paused when two little kids, presumably aged four and 6, came running behind the woman. Are they your grandchildren too?
Yes, but what do you want? I told you, my daughter will meet you soon when she gets the time. She’s not at home now. Mrs. Parker, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to invade your privacy. Mr. Morgan forced a smile. I was just passing by and thought I’d meet Archie and see how he’s doing. Where is he? Can I see him? The woman stammered. He’s not at home. He’s gone out to get medicines. Your grandson is sick and you sent him all alone to get medicine? Mr. Morgan, Archie’s a big boy and he knows how to take care of himself.
Besides, I’ve got a lot of work to do. I should start cleaning, so if you don’t mind, Mr. Morgan understood that talking to the grandma about Archie’s expulsion would be useless, so he left the house immediately. As he headed to the gate, he ran into Archie. The boy was dirty and exhausted. He was wearing soiled clothes that looked like some workwear and smelled of tobacco. Mr. Morgan chased after the boy and stopped him in his tracks when he tried to flee after seeing his teacher. Archie looked up at Mr. Morgan, his eyes wide with fear and embarrassment.
Mr. Morgan, I’m okay. Please go home and don’t come here again. I’m tired and I have to wash up. You’re tired? Archie, where have you been? You didn’t come to school today and your grandma told me you were sick. What is it? Look, I can help you, all right? Trust me. Archie refused to speak up and insisted Mr. Morgan leave immediately. But the teacher was hell bent on piecing the puzzle and urge the boy to tell him the truth.
Look, Archie, the principal has decided to expel you from school. I won t let that happen, all right? What s wrong, Archie? Look, I won t scold you or take you to the principal. I want to help you, but you got to speak up, champ. Mr. Morgan, thanks for your efforts, but I don’t think you can help me. I have to deal with my own problems, Archie began. My mom borrowed money from some bad guys after my dad died. She started coming home late and felt very sick often due to overworking in the illegal cigarette factory. She started drinking and once I saw her taking a shot with a needle, she told me it was her only relief.
I m a big boy now and I can’t watch any random man walking into my house and yelling at my mom for not returning the money. So I started working part time at the cigarette factory every day after school so we have enough money to repay the debts. A pang of pity rushed into Mr. Morgan’s heart. I understand, Archie, but you’re too young to work in such an illegal working environment. It could harm your health. Don’t you think it’s a bad decision? Wouldn’t you do the same for your mother? Archie replied with a counter question.
But Archie, you can’t spoil your future like that. You’re meant for something better and more promising, Mr. Morgan argued. Look at your hands. Just look at how dirty and rough they are. You’re supposed to hold books and stationary, not tobacco. Listen to me, Champ. Just get back to school tomorrow and we’ll figure out how to help your mother, all right? What difference is it going to make, Mr. Morgan? We might be struggling now, but I’m sure we’ll overcome this bad time one day. And you know what? You can submit a bad assessment of me and get me expelled.
I’m okay with that. To be honest, I suck at studies. I’m the weakest student in class. Nothing will change if I go to school every day. But Archie, this isn’t the solution to your problems. You need to try and find a way out. Education is necessary for every child, and you can’t just… But the boy yanked his hands before Mr. Morgan could finish and started walking away. It’s okay, Mr. Morgan. I can take care, and I’m glad I have somebody who really cares about my family and me. I got to go now. I have to cook dinner for my brothers. Granny makes a disgusting broth every day and we hate it. Mr. Morgan immediately blocked Archie’s way, telling him he had an idea and pleaded with the boy to give him one chance to try it. Look, Archie, I have a proposal on, right? What if we switch places every day? Yeah, Champ, what if I cook dinner for you guys and you do your homework every day at this time? All you have to do is get back to school. You can still go to work in that factory after school since it’s only a part time gig.