A Class Act

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Just last week a news story on TV caught my attention. It featured an Edmonton teacher who had to kiss a pig after his students met a challenge. My husband turned to me and matter-of-factly stated, “Didn’t you once kiss a pig?” (And he wasn’t making a disparaging comment about an old boyfriend of mine.)

I had, indeed, once kissed a pig as part of a school event, but this was only one of many such activities in which I participated. And while I was glad to see this feel-good story on TV, I was also a bit disappointed that such a big deal was being made of it. Now before some of you get upset by this comment, let me explain. I say this because the reporter seemed to be implying that this event was highly unusual and this teacher unique, and I know better.

After spending nearly 36 years as an educator, I feel I can speak with some authority on the matter. I know for a fact that teachers on a regular basis put themselves into situations much like this and it is by choice.

In my own years as a teacher, student council advisor and principal, I had offered myself for public humiliation many times. I have taken many a pie in the face, had soaking wet sponges thrown at me, hitchhiked to a neighbouring community and back dressed as a hippie, and worn lovely outfits provided by my students to a school fashion show. On three different occasions I, along with some colleagues and students, spent the night on the school roof (those November nights in Saskatchewan can get quite cold).

I narrowly missed having my hair shaved off when the president of our Student Representative Council decided it would be a good idea and volunteered my head, but thankfully the students were just shy of the goal set. I have one of the most misshapen heads around and with a no cap policy in our school I wasn’t eager to lose my hair.

But one of my favourite events was the mud-wrestling match I had with the grade 1 teacher on the front lawn of our school. (Again, this was in November!) Another memorable event did not involve me, but a male teacher who volunteered to have his hairy back waxed. I still wince as I recall the strips being peeled off his skin as he purposely (I think) screamed like a little girl, much to the delight of the students.

Some might wonder why some teachers would set themselves up for embarrassment, discomfort or even pain. Well, they do it to motivate their students, to build spirit in the school or to raise money for a good cause. Sometimes they even get some accolades for what they do and on rare occasions they might make the evening news.

So while I commend the news station for running the story, I would also hope that reporters in the future would acknowledge the regular occurrence of such events in schools right across this province and nation, as well as the numerous sacrifices that many teachers make outside of the classroom.

And, just for the record, there are far worse things in life than kissing a pig!

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