Gander Academy is in the province of Newfoundland,Canada.It is an elementary school.It is a school for children from kindergarten to grade six. I was hired to teach grade four.There are five grade four classrooms with five teachers. Out of these there is one for French immersion. My classroom was four Blue. I was a new teacher.I had to remember the colour of my classroom. On the first day the kids were lined up to go to their respective teachers. My class of thirty-three marched in, took their seats, and looked at me. I was not the kind of teacher,they expected to see. I was wearing a Saree,I had long hair and I was not Caucasian. The darlings were exposed to someone they had not seen before. They exchanged glances,whispered, then they were quiet.
When I started teaching,one of them said to the one beside him.’She talks funny.’ Then one named James was irritated by this remark, ‘he felt he needed to come to my rescue.’ James gave him a piercing look and replied,’No she doesn’t, My mom also has the same accent,you know nothing,people from England has this accent.’ So I was saved from opening my mouth. The boys and girls were sizing me up at this point.I was going along smoothly. Since it was the first day for us.I distributed the text books. They had their exercise books,a separate one for each subject and pencils, erasers and the geometry set.We were ready to start. The kids were anxious to go home and tell their parents regarding me who is so different from the others. This became evident,on parent -teacher interviews.
On the day of the interview,the parents wanted to see who I was,the kids were so excited to tell them? Gander is a very small town,it has a population of ten thousand and I’m sure some of them have seen me. My husband was an ophthalmologist. Half of the population probably had trouble with their eyes, so to know me was not unusual. When they came to see me regarding their children,they realized I was the one they were referring to. The day went very well,I was able to tell the parents some positive facts with regard to their children. However there was one mother who wasn’t quite sure how to react when she heard her child has an Indian teacher. At this point I feel I should let my readers know when one comes from that part of the globe,they are Indians. She went to the Principal and voiced her opinion. The Principal wanted to ease her mind,he told her I was the most qualified teacher in the school and she shouldn’t be concerned. As soon as she stepped into my classroom she confessed her feeling and also what the principal had told her.
There was one problem I noticed. Although they all were in the fourth grade, their ability varied from one another. Some were extremely capable,some could read well,some couldn’t,same was true of Mathematics,and other subjects.
Then came the month of December. The boys and girls were extremely restless.Their discussion centered around Santa Claus. They had to let me know what Santa will bring for them. They knew it beforehand because they wrote to him and alerted him of their preference. Santa never fails,it is his duty to keep the children happy. One day I saw a variety of gifts on my desk.I tried to review the situation,my brain refused to co-operate. Disappointed by my inability I opted to go to one of the senior teachers to solve this mystery. Oh she told me,’these are for you, and you have to accept them.’ Later on I learned ,at this time of the year,all the teachers are given gifts by their students and it was absolutely normal.At the end of that day I went home with all the gifts, my husband had all sorts of questions, I chose to ignore him.
Before the school was closed for Christmas, we had a Christmas party.Then we had an assembly,we all gathered in the auditorium to hear what the principal had to say.We sang a few Christmas carols. The assembly was over.It was time for us to collect our gifts and wish each other a very merry Christmas and a happy,”NEW Year!”