The Substitute Teacher Surprise

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The Substitute Teacher Surprise “Mr. Smith” was printed on the board as we entered the classroom. Philip said, “Hey, Chris, substitute teacher today! Guess we won’t be learning much!” “Yeah,” I agreed with a smile. My last name is also Smith, and it never surprises me to meet someone else with such a common name. Today, though, I was in for something unexpected. Just then, the substitute walked in. It was my grandfather! Grandpa had recently retired from the army and was teaching now, but why did he have to end up here? If the kids found out I was related to the teacher, my life would be over. Grandpa smiled. To my relief, he didn’t acknowledge me in any way. “May I have your attention, students?” he said in his commanding voice, and everyone settled down. “I am Mr. Smith, and I’ll be taking over your class for today.” After taking attendance, he said, “I see here you’re learning about the Vietnam conflict in social studies.” The class nodded. “Let’s turn to page 442,” he ordered. Grandpa asked Philip to read the first section aloud. Afterward, Grandpa closed his book. “Excuse me, but this isn’t quite as action-packed as the full story. I remember a time in Vietnam . . .” “You were in Vietnam?” several students said with surprise. “I sure was,” my grandfather replied, “My squad was just completing a mission south of Saigon, and the helicopter was hovering overhead to get us. My good buddy, Michael, was covering for us while we were climbing into the helicopter. Suddenly the enemy appeared. Michael was shot in the leg.” “So what did you do?” Emily whispered. “I was the closest one to him. I dashed over with shots whizzing past my head. My squad members covered me, and I heaved Michael into the helicopter.” No one made a noise for the next hour as my grandfather continued telling of his experiences in Vietnam. Even when he moved on to our other subjects, reading and math and science, everyone paid attention and worked hard. At the end of the day, Philip said, “Wow, what a cool substitute teacher!” “Yeah,” I said. Then I added, “He’s my grandfather.” ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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