Grades are Due

The sun was still barely about to rise and the smell of dew was fresh on the grass. The tutors marched their way into Mrs. Larks classroom as zero period instruction was about to begin… Oh the joys of working at 6:30 am.

Being a Tuesday, it meant tutorials so the tutors collected the students work and began the separation process. Tom, being in one of his moods, grabbed the work and made it upon himself to separate which was unusual. For the most part we have one physics group, a precalculus group, a calculus group, and then random elective groups. Stella usually takes physics since James no longer works zero period and Tom usually takes calculus because he’s the mighty priestess who swears he’s the only one good at math (please James is almost done with his math degree and Tom isn’t even in school).

As Stella waited for her group, Tom did something completely curve balled. He split her physics group into two and took one for himself. This is odd because it is normal for all the kids to be together so they can help one another and like stated before, Tom always takes calculus. Unfortunately, Tom’s agenda consisted of something else and he was playing a sinister role by stealing Diego and Alejandro.

Diego and Alejandro are James’ two students that are close to him along with Anthony. Stella promised James that she would watch out for them since he was exiled from zero period, but Tom always has to make things hard by upholding his Hitler complex. Stella was left with half of the physics group while Tom took those two plus an extra few. Stella tried to understand, but she continued her work because nothing phases her for too long.

The period ended. Stella was irritated only because Tom spent more time focusing on her group than his own. Stella couldn’t figure out why when she has been working as a tutor longer than him so he really had no say in how she did her work. Oh well, Stella let it go. Work had to be done so the day continued with Tom’s shadow casted over everyone.

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First period ended and second period was about to begin. Stella arrived to Mrs. Larks classroom but Tom was missing. Already short tutors that day, Stella questioned where he was. Thinking he might be in Mr. Smiths class, Stella went over to look but no one was in there. Being a lead tutor, Stella needed to tell Mrs.Lark because knowing her bipolar mood she would start bickering about the short amount of tutors.

Stella: “Mrs. Lark where is Tom? He’s missing and we need his help.”
Lark: “Did you think about maybe he’s in the restroom?”

Her response carried attitude. Stella dropped it. She could have said more because she also realized Katrina was missing, but its okay, not Stella’s problem to worry about what gets done since Lark doesn’t care.

Tom eventually showed up. Stella almost called in James to cover since Tom likes to call in Katrina when he wants, but letting things take course she sat down and did what she had to so the day could go faster.

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Finally third period. James was now on the clock. The tutors greeted him and then they segregated because it was the period where half to go to Mr. Ross and half to stay with Mrs. Lark. Unfortunately, James remembered the new schedule and he was stuck with Katrina and Tom for the next two periods. Having an eye twitch moment, James sucked it up and waited for his assignment.

Third period was okay. James felt the tension still between him and Tom. James still doesn’t quite understand why Tom hates him so much, but he speculates its because Mrs. Lark loves him too and Tom feels she should only love him since he’s the baby. Whatever Tom, you are a grown man having to succumb to teacher work for tutor pay. Little princess bitch.

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Finally a break. James escaped the death eaters and met up with the A team. He shared his feeling of wanting to do harm on to Tom and Katrina, but its always joke. Hope mentioned how it was half off drinks at Starbucks so the tutors made a plan to go during their lunch. Only one more period till they could put some distance between them and south shore.

The bell rang. Fourth period was about to begin. Then turmoil began.

James headed back to Larks class to endure one more period. Oh he could smell freedom already.

Tom was already collecting tutorials by the time he entered the room. Atta boy Tom.

James sat down and waited till he got his group. Knowing he wasn’t going to get Anthony’s group, he just sat there and talked with Anthony about his day and volleyball since he recently made the team. It’s always nice to talk to the kids. Even though Tom feels we shouldn’t get too close, the tutors are role models and establishing a good relationship with the kids means more chances for them to open up and seek the help they need.

Conversing a little more, James was soon interrupted by two students asking for help with their grades. They mentioned to him about how they received zeros on an assignment when they gave it Tom. Tom apparently told them he was going to put it in, but it never made the grade book. James grabbed the rosters and looked. Puzzled, they were still missing.

James finished all the grades the week before for Lark. Why you ask? She wasn’t going to get it done and a few of the students already asked him to start inputting things because grades were about to be due. Out of the kindness of his heart, he finished them for her and thinking everything was okay was a mistake obviously for what happened next.

So James grabbed his laptop and was going to login and fix the grades. Knowing these students, he had no doubt in his mind that they did the work and with a lot of work already missing, he didn’t mind giving them credit for the missing assignments.

Making way to the grade book system took some time. The wifi at work is horrible. Finally having reached the site, James went to go put in Larks login information. Waiting, James thought there was an error but a return message signaled “invalid password”. James thought he misspelled it so he tried a few more times but nothing worked. The password was changed.

Was Lark mad that he did the grades? She thanked him last week so why was the password changed? Feeling bad for these two girls, he told them to talk to Tom because James knew Tom would know what was up.

Listening in on them asking him, Tom stated “Oh yeah I have them. I thought I put them in last night. I’ll do it right now.” James watched him access the grade book from afar, the password was new! It had a “d” and an “f” in it which before it didn’t.

Lark sat behind her desk and just watched. She was too focused on her life as usual so she probably didn’t even change the password herself. James knew Tom must have said something because the next thing that happened was a student complaining about her grade went from an A to a C.

When James finished the grades the week before he put in all her missing work that Tom neglected. This particular student was one that Katrina and Tom had a grudge against last semester. It was shady to see how the work James put in went missing. James told her to give the work to Tom so he could fix it because obviously he wasn’t allowed to do grades anymore.

Whatever Tom. You can do her job for her. James only did it because he cares about the kids unlike Lark and grades hadn’t been done since the beginning of the year.

South Shore continues to be blanketed by darkness. Tom was now playing god with the grades. Worst, how did he convince Lark to change her passwords? Well, she is gullible and so focused on her oh so perfect life that she doesn’t pay attention to what happens at work.

James just bit his tongue and waited for Starbucks; he could use the caffeine. This situation already had him heated, but its not his problem like Stella says.

Let’s just hope the actions of the ones who claim to be doing the right thing don’t have serious consequences on the most important aspect of our program, the kids.

Then again when is the last time Lark or Tom actually cared about them? Keep asking yourself that.

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Curiosity Leads to Confirmed Rumors

Before the previous school year ended, there were rumors of Tom getting a student loan with Mrs. Lark as the co-signer. But he continued to not be in school so eventually that rumor died out. Tom was not able to continue university due to a hold on his account because he owed the college $2,000. When the new school year came around, Tom arrives to work one day with a brand new car. Stella thought this was odd because he did not need a new car and she always thought that he would pay off his hold before anything else. Evidently, she was wrong.

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Every Friday, the tutors come in to grade the student’s binders. But this school year, there was a one hour break between one of the classes. So the tutors help with little tasks here and there to keep busy. This particular Friday the tutors had different tasks. Tom, Lacey, and Stormy were running around campus asking teachers if they were interested in helping with the fundraiser that the program was holding. Teachers that helped would receive a free t-shirt. Stella and Hope were left alone in the classroom to total the amount of each t-shirt size from all the classes and Mrs. Lark left them there to go get breakfast.

Stella and Hope counted the t-shirt sizes and double-checked with each other that they had the right number. They wrote the total number of each size on a post-it and put it on Mrs. Lark’s desk. Stella sat down in the chair behind Lark’s desk and realized that her computer was left on. Out of curiosity, she skimmed through her e-mails and found nothing interesting or irrelevant enough for her to care. Hope and Stella were both hoping to find an e-mail about when the site coach would be visiting them so they can warn the other tutors in advanced. Since they both knew that Tom and Lark would not tell them the information that felt they had to sneak around to find out themselves.

After skimming through her e-mails, Stella and Hope looked at all the clutter on her desktop. They stumbled upon a file titled, ‘Tom Billy Rae.’ Billy Rae was a known organization that gave out scholarships and student loans. Stella clicked on the file and once it opened they were floored. Mrs. Lark did in fact co-sign for a student loan for Tom! The rumors were true! But where did all that money go? The loan was made on April of last year. A loan of $15,000. But Tom was still not in school. That loan could have paid off his hold. And it could have paid for a semester of classes. But why was he not going to school? Did he use it to buy that car that he did not need? It’s been six months, so doesn’t he need to pay off his loan now? The questions were coming but there will never be answers unless Stella and Hope asked Tom himself.

Now they knew why Tom did all her bitch work. She has him on a leash with that loan. Desperate times call for desperate measures but now he is stuck with her until he pays her back. Bad idea, Tom. Bad. Fucking. Idea.

Oh well, your problem, not mine.

Protecting the Baby

After weeks of dealing with Tom and his controlling nature, the A team were getting fed up. Stella and James especially. Before the previous semester ended, Mrs. Lark would go to them for help and tell them everything. Now the vibe was different. Tom was doing everything in his power to separate members of the A team from Lark. Being the gullible person she is, he wanted to keep her close to manipulate her as much as he could. But someone can only bite their tongue for so long. So Stella and James came to South Shore on their day off to discuss their issues about Tom.

James started off telling Lark how he felt as if they were not close to her anymore. He felt that Tom was keeping her away from them. The tutors also voiced their opinion about how they hated that Tom was bossing everyone around. Stella hated that Tom bossed her around because they were both leads. Stella just cared more about the students than the new power she had. Thus, she asked the others what they wanted to do rather than tell them what to do.

Mrs. Lark heard what they had to say but it went in one ear and out the other. She said that Tom had a lot on his plate and that they should not have to ask him if he needs help. She mentioned how they never step up to the plate to help him but they never help because he never wants the help when they do offer it. Also, both James and Stella hated doing the bitch work. They hated doing teacher work for tutor salary, therefore, they tried to avoid doing tasks that were not in their job description. Lark continued to defend her unofficial adopted child until Stella and James just remained silent about their concerns because they knew it was a lost cause.

Stella and James left the impromptu meeting knowing that things would not be gum drops and rainbows at South Shore High but they hoped that Tom would at least simmer down. Maybe if he went to school like most of the tutors, he wouldn’t be on everyone’s case about insignificant things. Wonder how Krista, the site coach, would feel about a tutor not being in school… Isn’t that suppose to be a requirement for a tutor? Observation Day was around the corner for the tutors, so what lies will be twisted to protect her baby?

Twisting Words

The semester was going by quickly. Tom was out of control. Katrina was his little assistant. Mrs. Lark sat at her desk doing nothing productive except e-mailing her best friend about what to get for lunch. The other tutors were on edge about what to do. One little thing that the death eaters saw as wrong would bring dark clouds over South Shore High, which no one wanted.

As the days passed, Mrs. Lark wanted the tutors to have a meeting to get on the same page for grading tutorials. A meeting was held one day during their break. Right when it started, Lark left the classroom and immediately Tom took charge. He started telling the tutors to grade the tutorials how they would normally grade. After about ten minutes or so, the tutors were all done grading and Tom asks, “So did anyone give a student a hundred?” A couple tutors, including lead tutor Stella, raised their hands.

“No one should have gotten a hundred, there was something wrong with each one,” stated Tom.

Tom proceeds to focus on a tutorial of one student in particular, Anthony. Anthony is a student that is always in James’ groups and is a student that will only work well with James. Tom starts to stab at every single thing that he thought was wrong with the student’s work and also how the original tutor graded.

As Tom was talking, Stella zoned out and started looking at the names of the tutorials that they were grading. A majority of the students came from one group. That very same group always had the same tutor… James. As realization hit, Stella started to somewhat listen to what was going on again. It wasn’t just a meeting about getting the tutors on the same page, it was also a subliminal attack on James and how he had a good relationship with the students that looked up to him.

Tom continued to talk about nonsense and compare South Shore High to Northcutt High. He also kept saying how the tutors had to grade more harshly because their site coach, Krista, will be visiting them to observe. Everyone else remained silent. Stella assumed that he was getting tired of talking because he kept repeating himself. Her assumptions were correct when Tom says, “C’mon, guys, say something.”

After a slight pause, Lacey, a tutor that works at three different schools, mentions how Krista is not as bad as how Tom is making her out to be. Stella adds her two cents and says, “We are not a demo school. We are no where near a demo school. So I don’t think she will be as harsh as she is at Northcutt because they are becoming a demo school.”

Katrina must have not have cleaned her ears because she looks at Stella with a dirty look and says, “Yeah. But that doesn’t mean we should slack off.” Stella gave her a dirty look back and states, “I never said that. I didn’t say to slack off. I just said that I don’t think she is going to be that bad.” After correcting her, there was a tense silence in the air. But Stella thought it was better to say something than have Katrina twist her words around to the wrong person. After a while, Tom just mentions, “I guess we shall see then.”

Yeah, Tom. We shall see.

The dark mark was starting to form once again.

No More Ross Town

Weeks had passed and things were silent around South Shore. Not a drip of hate in sight or a knife to be thrown at someones back. Things actually seemed content, at least until Mr. Ross finally broke.

A normal day of tutorials in Mr. Ross’ class is always nice because things are comfortable. With Lark’s class,  there seems to be this imminent shadow looming over everyone making it hard to work sometimes, but in Ross’ class the sun always seems to shine; even in the shady places.

Walking in this day though, something was different. Mr. Ross had something perplexing him and because the tutors care about him, they asked what was wrong.

James: “Hey Mr. Ross what’s up? You look a little sad. Something bothering you?”
Ross: “Well not much. But, I wanted to ask you something and could this stay between us?”
James: “Of course, I’m not like Katrina or Tom”
Ross: “Has Lark ever said anything about me.. Like in a bad way?”

In that moment, James either could either tell him the truth or spin lies like the death eaters. Having known what Mrs.Lark has said, James knew it was time to tell the truth.

James: “Well Mr.Ross you know you are an awesome guy and a great teacher. To answer your question, I want to tell you the truth. Yes, Lark has said many bad things about you. She feels like you are not on a team with her and that you can be a flake sometimes. She always iterates that if she can make time, why can’t you? Of course, we tell her you have kids and she doesn’t, but being the self-centered woman she is, that isn’t a valid excuse that you have kids.”
Ross: “Ahh I see. Anything else?”
James: ” Yes. She has made comments to our principal in order to make herself seem like she has done everything on her own and that you are a bad guy for not helping. But you know what Mr. Ross I know you support this program and us so don’t listen to any of it!”

The mood set after that last sentence and Mr. Ross just retracted and stayed quiet. All he said before releasing the tutors do their work was “if that’s how she feels, then okay”.

…….

The period was ending and the work was coming in to be graded. The tutors were about leave. Mr. Ross stopped James however and in the nicest manner said “I am done.” Puzzled, James asked with what? Ross said, “I truly feel like I have done enough for this program to be a part of it, but if that’s how she feels, then I cannot stop her from seeing things the way she sees it. I want to let you know that I have emailed her and told her that next school year I will no longer be teaching for this program. I am talking to administration and letting them know I am going back to just teaching all sections of English, but I wish Lark the best of luck.”

Still sad, Ross carried a grieved smile and told the tutors to have a nice day.

All James could think was, Lark is going to need the luck because we just lost an important asset to our team. Thus, this officially marked the end of Ross Town leaving us only to deal with Lark County.

We can only hope the dark times don’t consume the new school year, but that’s like asking ice not to melt near a fire.

Follow the Leader: Stella’s Perspective

Before the first semester ended, Tom and I were made lead tutors at South Shore High. Mrs. Lark decided to make us leads because we have been there the longest and we have worked well together before. So I thought things would be okay since last semester the problems and tension diminished. Little did I know that the first day back for the second semester would be hell.

All the tutors came in for a meeting to talk about the new hours and also to refresh the kids on what we expect on how tutorials are suppose to be ran. Tom was being Mrs. Lark’s assistant as usual, which was not surprising. He was telling the tutors what to do and where to go the whole day. What pissed me off was that Tom was trying to boss me around  but I’m a lead tutor as well. He was telling me what to do but I still did my own thing.

I noticed that his power trip was getting bad when a student noticed. One student asked Tom, “Hey Tom, are you the leader or something?” and I nonchalantly say, “Well, I’m a lead tutor too but he just likes to have power.”

Tom, embarrassedly said to me, “No I don’t.”

But I just said, “Sure.” and went to the other class since this semester the tutors will be split during certain periods. After the classes, the tutors went to lunch and as we were all coming back for 6th period we got a text from Tom telling us all where to go. At this point, I was annoyed because he was telling me where to go like I was under him. But yet, we are the same level. We are both leads. Just because I’m not as demanding and bossy as Tom is, it does not mean that I’m not a good lead. The other tutors expressed how they wished that James and I were the leads because we are fair and we ask them nicely to do something and not just yell at them to do it like how Tom does. If this continues, I might just go off on them one day.

Lord Voldemort

“These are dark times, there is no denying. Our world has perhaps faced no greater threat than it does today.”JK Rowling

South shore was being shadowed by a dark cloud. That clouds name was Tom, who to some of the tutors was the modern day Tom Riddle or better known by the name of Lord Voldemort.

Tom was quickly invoking the power he had as a lead tutor. Stella, also being a lead tutor, is nothing like Tom when it comes to who is in control though, which is sad because he maneuvers around her title and plays solo on who really take charge. Within those few days of being back at work, things were starting to rapture into something dark and truly evil.

James was still concerned about what had happened and thinking about it more and more, it started to piece together. For James, his main goal has always been the student over everything. Nothing is more important to him than the success of the kids and the ultimate goal of them going to college. In a way, you could say James has always had a soft spot for certain students, but generally he is just someone who cares. Apparently, Tom and Katrina felt last semester that this was uncalled for. Before break, James remembered that they both made comments about him being to close to the kids. James didn’t deny it because it is true, but never did he let it cloud his judgements on how to grade or evaluate certain situations. However, when that semester ended James just let it go because Tom and Katrina always have something to say, which in most cases it’s never nice.

Anyways, James thought back to that time when they mentioned that. It was all making sense. His hours were cut during the periods where he was closest to the kids. Katrina may have not been involved, but Tom sure as hell had a say in the hours and it was now clear what was going on. Tom had purposefully cut James hours in the areas where he thought he was becoming to close.

James was more sad now then mad. His job means nothing without the kids and now that Tom is playing god and is making decisions based off his own foolish mindset,  he knew things weren’t going to be the same.

James slowly thought things through and began to wonder what made Tom hate him so much now? Was it because he was getting close to Lark right at the end of last semester. Maybe he felt he was losing his connection to her since she was actually listening to what James had to say. Either way, he could not understand what was going on in Tom Riddle’s mind, but what he did understand was that a new target may have been set on him.

….

At the end of the day, James just wanted to tell Tom off. He was so frustrated and upset with him but being the civil person he is, things slowly just were brushed under the carpet.

However, James remembered one of his students in particular that he promised he would make sure to always tutor. Anthony.

Anthony is a very special student to James because he is the only one Anthony will talk to. At the beginning of the year when James first started working Anthony didn’t talk to anyone, but he slowly opened up to him and built a strong bond with him. That bond allowed James to tutor him and be the role model that he needed. With that said, Anthony knew something was up when Tom laid down the law and snapped at James to go to another class to tutor during his period.

Tom was being a dick, to put it bluntly. James wanted to stay for Lark’s class fourth period because Anthony is in there, but Tom wouldn’t let it happen. He told James “Go now” in a deameaning tone which alerted Anthony right off the bat that James wasn’t going to be tutoring that period.

James was fumed at this point because he was being talked to like a child and like he did something wrong. Tom had no right to yell like that, especially since he isn’t the boss. Meeting up with the others, James told them what happened and everyone was slowly opening their eyes to the newly proclaimed Lord Voldemort.