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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)

TITLE: Lighthouses in the Darkness
By Venice Kichura


Ring! Ring!

The early-morning call from the Sub Locator jolted me out of my dream as I shot up in bed like a jack-in-the-box.

“This is the Bryson City School Sub Locator…. “The familiar automated voice gave the details of today’s substitute assignment. Mrs. Daley. Librarian. Bryson High. Today, Tuesday, June 6th, 2006.

But the date was 6/06/06 and I wasn‘t sure I should brave the high school with all the hoopla connected with this day. Hmmm….Guess I can handle being Mrs. Daley, the librarian. And, as a child of God doesn’t the greater One live inside of me?

I accepted the job, dressed and drove to school.

“At least it’s not a teaching position. God bless those courageous public high school teachers,” I sighed aloud, driving into the school parking lot, noting the parade of spaced-out students.

The day started out normally enough as I helped students and checked out books for the first five periods.

At lunch I sat next to a new teacher, Mr. Tanner, and was intrigued with the symbol on his key chain. The <>< symbol? Is he a Christian? I wondered.

Returning from lunch, my heart jumped in my chest as I spotted Jonathan P, a kid who‘d given me a migraine last semester. He was 17, had the body of a prize wrestler, and sported a ponytail. A year ago I was in charge of his class and had to buzz the office because he was so disruptive.

I tried to avoid him, hiding in the reference section, shelving books.

But he snuck behind me, snatching the books out of my hands.

“Please give me the books, Jonathan,” I asked politely, trying to stay calm.

The demonic glint in his eye and his stone-faced refusal to submit reminded me it was 6/06/06.

Just as I was debating to buzz the office, Mr. Turner, a no-nonsense math teacher approached us. As he shot his bifocals down his nose, Jonathan straightened up in his chair.

“What’s the problem?” Mr. Turner asked.

“Jonathan grabbed some books I’m trying to shelve,” I explained.

Handing over the books, Jonathan shifted his eyes and mumbled, “I was just foolin’ around. And, anyway, she’s just a sub.”

“She holds just as much authority as Mrs. Daley,” Mr. Turner snapped at him. “Perhaps this will teach you to respect subs,” he continued, slapping a detention slip in his hand.

No wonder this school has trouble getting subs………Now I know why so many parents home school…. God bless these public school teachers. Think I’d rather work at McDonalds than keep subbing…

As Jonathan left the library, he gazed at me and muttered, “I’ll see you later.”

Replaying his obvious threat over in my mind, I trembled, imagining him meeting me outside the library after school, following me to my car.

I looked at the clock and sighed. Only one o’clock? Another hour to go? I’ve got to sneak out of here early before he meets me here and follows me.

At 1:45 PM I was still debating if I should sneak out early when some students left me more books to shelve.

Then in the fiction section I overheard a student explain to another student, “All I can say is that Jesus changed my life. Hang out with me after school and I’ll share more.”

A lighthouse in the darkness! I wanted to hug this Christian kid and clone him, wishing there were more like him.

Then the loud speaker broke in with afternoon announcements…

“Pardon this interruption….The Bible Club meets this afternoon in Room 205 with Mr. Tanner….”

Mr. Tanner? The teacher with the <>< symbol on his key ring? He‘s a believer---just like this student. Another lighthouse in the darkness.

Guess there is hope for our schools, after all, thanks to Christian teachers like Mr. Tanner. Yes, God is in control even if it is 6/06/06.

I walked out the door as the bell rang, forgetting about Jonathan. When Jonathan’s face did flash across my mind, I didn’t even look to see if he was following me. Instead I whispered a prayer for him.

Then I prayed for all the other “Mr. Tanners” on the public school battlefields----that they’d be lighthouses in a dark world.

Let their lights shine, Father. And, yes, I guess I’m called to stay the course---to keep subbing. I may be “just a sub,” but I can pray for all the “Mr. Tanners” who serve You daily on the front lines of battle.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jen Davis11/02/06
“Instead I whispered a prayer for him.” I loved the way you concluded this piece. Great message!
Val Clark11/03/06
A realistic tale! Very visual, without going into lots of detail. I came aground a bit with Mr Turner and Mr Tanner - was it a typo or are they different people. If they are different people it's not such a good idea to give them similar names. My husband is one of those lighthouses and boy, do they value prayer. yeggy
Joanne Sher 11/03/06
Great description and message here. Great ending, too!
Jan Ackerson 11/06/06
Very good--my daughter's fiance' is doing a lot of subbing right now, and it's certainly a challenge. You've nailed it.

A personal preference would be to leave off the "ring ring" at the beginning. It's just as effective without it, and since those words don't really sound like the ringing of a telephone, it starts your story off on a jarring note.

I like the little hint of wry humor throughout, and the peek we get into your protagonist's thoughts.
Debbie Sickler11/07/06
I agree with Val about the names confusing me a little because of being so similar, but I still enjoyed reading this.

I really related to the joy she felt by finding other believers. I get the same way when I see Christian bumper stickers on cars as I drive, especially ones for the radio station I'm listening to. It's nice to have reminders that we're not alone in the world, no matter how dark things can feel at time.

Hope you find many more beacons of light as you finish out your days of subbing. :)
Beth Muehlhausen11/07/06
A realistic snip of life told with the voice of one who's been in public school trenches - praying. I enjoyed sharing the emotion of your character. Thanks for the hopeful ending!!
Phyllis Inniss11/09/06
The challenges teachers face these days are too enormous to be experienced without prayer. You have exposed this problem well and ended your piece with hope and prayer and this makes me feel good.
Pat Guy 11/15/06
Well done Venice! Boy, do we need thise lighthouses in our schools. It's also sad our children aren't challenged today to be the beacons they should be. "Politically 'Correct' has become the poison of today.

But anyway, this was very well written and I felt I was right there experiencing all the same emotions.

Well done girl!