“What if you get Mr. Dann?” Jack asked in a shrill, exaggerated voice.
“Yah, I’ve heard he is SO tough!” said Alicia while extending her arms as wide as they would go to show just how tough he was.
Philip didn’t want to think about Mr. Dann, and he didn’t want to think about school again. The three drudged along slowly towards the ominous brick building that loomed threateningly ahead. He wanted to think about running down the street as fast as he could with his best friend Jack, wind blowing past their skinny bodies, secretly following four stocky, older boys. He wanted to think about spying on them under the hot summer sun when they didn’t know they were being watched, or about hiding under the thick green bushes when they were finally discovered.
“I want to get Mrs. Rodrigues,” announced Jack. “She’s nice.”
“Me too-” started Alicia.
“You’re too young-,” snapped Jack cruelly.
“Yah but I heard Mr. Dann picks you up by your ears,” she said running all her words together so she wouldn’t be interrupted again.
Philip looked up to see the monstrous building sneering down at him and winced as the three walked through one of the cast iron doors arranged in endless rows.
“Room assignments,” yelled an elderly woman from a distant corner of the entranceway crowded with many students. Alicia ran eagerly to the table while Jack hung back with Philip, still trying to delay the inevitable.
“I got Mrs. Rodrigues!” exclaimed Jack victoriously after they had been handed their assignments. “Who did you get?”
Philip slowly opened the folded page to show the typed print that read, “Mr. Dann, Room B16.”
“Too bad!” he laughed. “I’m on the other end of the school. See you tonight,” he said as he breezed away happily for his classroom.
Philip walked slowly, head down, towards room B16. Why did everything always go wrong for him? Why did he have to get Mr. Dann? He was so distraught that he didn’t even notice four stocky boys walk up behind him. Suddenly he was shoved hard to the floor with his paper flying out of his hand. Shaking with fear he looked up to see one of the boys standing over him, “Still spying on us?”
Philip felt his insides reach up and grab his throat so he couldn’t speak.
The boy punched him in the stomach so that Philip was gasping for breath. “Maybe that will-”
“WHAT IS GOING ON HERE!” boomed a giant of a man towering over all the boys. Philip saw his head way up by the ceiling surrounded by the light fixture in such a way that it looked like a halo. “Take these boys to detention,” he growled to another teacher nearby. Philip felt warm, strong hands raise him to his feet and pick up his assignment. “Philip,” the voice boomed with a smile while reading the paper, “I’m Mr. Dann. You’ll be in my classroom this year.”
Philip stood up straight and proud as Mr. Dann led him around the corner and into a brightly decorated room. At the front of the room he saw large words sprawled across the wall that read,
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”