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

TITLE: Dog Faced Dawson
By terri tiffany


We called her ‘Dog-faced Dawson.’ She not only resembled a bulldog but barked orders like one too. George Mitchell spent most his time in her class with his nose pressed against the blackboard when he wasn’t flirting with me. Mrs. Dawson not only ruled with an iron fist but with a wooden paddle, too. It was 1964 when teachers ran their classrooms.

I spread the Times out on the floor to search through the class schedules. I couldn’t wait to find my third grade assignment.

“You have her!” My older sister howled in my ear. My name was there in black and white. My fate was sealed. Not that I was a trouble maker. Not by a long shot. I was what most kids would call a quiet one – the teacher’s favorite kind of student. But even I didn’t know if my exemplary behavior would be enough.

I managed to hide in the back of the first row along with all the other students beginning with the letter D. I raised my hand only when her look lingered in my direction too long. Until THE DAY. I call it THE DAY because it proved to be one of life’s embarrassing moments that can permanently alter the course of history – my history.

Little did I understand that suppressing the urge to use the little girl’s room would be detrimental to my health. Whenever Mother Nature called, I tried to wait out the clock until lunch time or recess. On that particular day, minutes stretched into hours. I knew I needed to get a hall pass pretty fast.

I raised my hand. I raised it again. I waved it over my head as Dog- Faced turned into a pit bull before my water logged eyes. I’ll avoid the gory details but it is sufficient to say that George Mitchell’s flirting turned into tattle telling. Mrs. Dawson marched to my chair, discovered the pool beneath and ordered me into her private bathroom.

This is probably a good place to stop to save me further embarrassment but I’ll press on. My third grade teacher mopped me up then gave me a change of clothing she kept on hand for just these occasions. She returned to the classroom to call the janitor. I hid in the teacher’s closet until the bell rang and everyone was dismissed. My school career was over. I would never be able to show my face again.

In 1964, teachers often drove their students home when they wanted to talk with a parent. I personally couldn’t think of a better use for old Dog -Face’s Buick. We drove seven blocks in silence to my house. My mother didn’t work outside the home yet so she was there waiting.

“I’m coming in with you to talk with your mother.” I slid out of her car then led the way up the concrete steps. “Mom.” I shouted into the living room. “I’m home with my teacher.” My mother acted like I brought home the queen. I sat in the opposite corner as the two of them conferred. Mrs. Dawson turned to me lifting her lips into what I could only surmise as a smile.

“She had a tiny accident today in my class. You might want her to see her physician.” My mother knitted her brows then nodded with understanding.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Ellen.” My teacher did that thing with her face again then actually patted my head. I didn’t plan on ever seeing her again. I was destined to be a nine year old drop out.

My mother had other ideas. Despite my protests, I returned to school the next day. My girlfriends surrounded me in sympathy while I glanced over their heads to my teacher who was scraping gum off her desk.

“Boys and girls.” She stood ramrod straight in front of the thirty wiggling bodies while puffing her chest out like a pigeon. “From now on, if any of you have to use the little girl’s or boy’s room and I don’t see your hand…” At this point, the whole classroom shifted their eyes in my direction. “I want you to get out of your seat and leave the room anyway. I am so sorry for missing a hand yesterday. Please forgive me.”

Old Dog-Faced Dawson immediately lost her status as Man’s Best Friend and won my Teacher of the Year award.

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This article has been read 1196 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 11/02/06
How precious! One MOST of us will be able to relate too! (and lived through) ;)

I loved the irony and wit through-out this very well-written piece. Great job!
Donna Haug11/02/06
Great job. Fav line: "Old Dog-Faced Dawson immediately lost her status as Man’s Best Friend and won my Teacher of the Year award."
Ann FitzHenry11/04/06
This is a story that brings back memories. I loved your description of Dog Faced Dawson barking orders. Thanks for sharing this very personal story about a teacher.
Your last line is perfect!
Dolores Stohler11/05/06
Words fail me...almost. I really, really liked this piece. Why? Because it's so honest and revealing. You told it like it was and I think your Ms. Dawson must have been a lovely person and a great teacher.Incidentally, some dog's faces are adorable!
Sharlyn Guthrie11/05/06
It was nice to learn that "dog-faced" Dawson had the heart of a good teacher. Delightful and entertaining read!
Stephen Paynter11/07/06
You evoke the place and time extremely well. I particularly liked the little almost incidental bits of information that showed the human side of the teacher, but which your character was missing. Good writing, indeed.
Marilee Alvey11/07/06
WOW! A thoroughly enjoyable story. It was like traveling back in a time capsule. You think you've outgrown those feelings of fear and of shame....but a talented author can transport you right back there. Thanks for the memories!
Betty Castleberry11/07/06
Delightful. This piece shows how kids often misjudge a teacher with a good heart. Very nicely done.
Donna Powers 11/07/06
A wonderful story and I smiled throughout. How great that you learned what she was really like. Thanks for sharing this.
Joanne Sher 11/08/06
This came across as SO genuine and real and wonderful - and I just LOVED the final line! Your emotions are so real here - great job!
Valora Otis11/08/06
I was voted the shyest kid in sixth grade. I felt for this sweet little girl. Every word was well thought out. The emotions swept back to my childhood and a younger sister, who did indeed have a medical problem. It made me realize what life must have been like for her. Bless you!
Laurie Glass 11/08/06
Oh, I like this. I felt so sorry for this little girl, but was so relieved at the teacher's response. Your style and descriptions held my attention throughout.
william price11/09/06
I really, really enjoyed this story. I hope it does well. I really llike the title and the story held my interest and compassion all the way thru.
God, bless.
Sandra Petersen 11/09/06
This is such a precious story. Who can't relate, remembering a teacher who was supposed to be the terror of the school, only to find out she had a heart after all? You kept me reading. Your description was such that I could almost picture Mrs. Dawson. Great job! Congrats on the EC and level placing. Well-deserved!