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WHY I TEACH-Part 13: Fan-Flippin-Tastick

by Kelley M Likes 4 months ago in teacher · updated 4 months ago
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Sometimes All You Need is Some Pancake Batter

And a give a damn attitude.

The end of the day on the first day of a new month, the National Anthem played over the loudspeaker. My students stayed at attention until Mrs. Orian said, “You are now dismissed.”

I grabbed my coat and headed to the bus area for my month-long mandatory bus duty.

I met another teacher standing out front and asked him what our job was. “Wait for the buses to leave,” he said blandly.

So that’s what I did. When the last of the 27 buses pulled away, I noticed 30 or so kids milling around. I spied Terrance sitting on a ledge with his back against the wall.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“We have to wait for the bus to come back,” he said, without looking up from his phone.

“Did you miss it?”

“Nah, there’s just not enough buses, so we take the second trip.”

“How long does that take?”

He shrugged. “Sometimes 90 minutes or if traffic’s bad, two hours.”

“You have to wait here for two hours?”

“Yeah, sometimes.”

I saw motion to the left of me and turned. The other teacher was walking away. “Hey,” I called after him, “What about this group?”

“Not my problem,” he said as he quickened his pace.

“Does any teacher stay with you?”


“Well, I’ll stay,” I said cheerfully.

“Got any food?” Terrance asked.

I shook my head. “I’ll bring something tomorrow. What happens if it rains?” I looked up at the uncovered waiting area.

“We get wet.”

My jaw dropped.

“They lock the building so we can’t get back in, so if it rains, we’re stuck out here.”

I wrapped my coat around me a little tighter and took a spot on the ledge. The bus returned 93 minutes later and 32 kids got on.

Tuesday in first period, I asked Terrance if he could stop by after school on his way to the bus to help me carry some stuff.

“What is all this stuff?” Terrance asked as he looked at the pile on the floor in front of him.

“Can you carry the table and the tent?” I asked. “I’ve got the wagon.”

Ten or so minutes later, with the help of most of the leftover students, we had constructed a popup sheltered tent with side panels, complete with a table and an electric griddle.

I waited until the first group of students left and then pulled out an enormous pitcher filled with pancake mix and began pouring the batter onto the griddle.

“Who wants pancakes?” I asked. Dare I say they all did.

Wednesday afternoon, we were able to construct the tent in nine minutes flat. We were standing around, enjoying the warmth when Mr. Myers burst into the tent. “You can’t be cooking food inside,” he said a bit breathless.

“I’m not cooking food inside,” I replied as I motioned to the griddle on the table, which was clearly standing on the grass, outside.

“Ms. Keen said you were cooking inside the building.”

I motioned to the griddle again and shrugged.

“Where’d you get this tent?” he asked.

“I brought it from my house,” I replied. “We have big family get-togethers so we had it just lying around.”

He came toward the table and looked behind it. Pointing to the orange extension cord plugged into an outlet on the exterior of the building he said, “This cord could be a tripping hazard.”

“I’ll be sure to duct tape it down tomorrow,” I replied.

He nodded. “And trash,” he began.

“We actually cleaned up all the trash from the entire area and threw our bags in the dumpsters.”

“Good, good,” Mr. Myers muttered. “Then I don’t see anything wrong with this, though you are going to spoil them.”

“Is that a bad thing?” I asked.

Mr. Myers gave me a sour look and left the tent.

Thursday, an icy rain pelted the tent. As the leftovers were enjoying their pancakes, the tent flap flew open. Mr. B. walked in carrying a rather large cardboard box.

He found me behind the table, flipping pancakes.

“This is nice,” he said with a slow sort of southern drawl. “Nice, nice.”

“Would you like some pancakes?” I offered.

“No, no thank you,” he replied. “I wanted to give you this.” He offered me the box and set it on the table.

I opened it and found two supersized bags of pancake mix, a large bag of chocolate chips, and a jug of syrup.

Mr. B. leaned in close, “What you are doing here is super cool. I just wanted to let you know that.”

“Thank you!” I said, fighting back the tears in my eyes. “Thank you very much.”

At lunch the next day, I found Mr. B. at the faculty lunch table and sat next to him.

“I can’t thank you enough,” I said.

Mr. B. nodded. “You see, the thing about these knuckleheads is that most of them aren’t going to college. Their life choices aren’t going to increase the school graduation rate or test score statistics. So no one really gives a damn about them.” He paused. “But they show up every day to my classes and your classes.”

He was right. I rarely had a kid miss a class.

“Most of the time, school is the only safe place they have. Now some of these guys are just here to help the family business.”

I cocked my head and tossed him a confused look.

“I have this turd in one of my classes. A few years ago, his mom had him classified as special ed. He’s not, but she had some doctor’s note and some garbage like that. So this kid gets to stay in school until he’s 22. He shows up every now and again, sells some crap, and then leaves.”

“Wait, what?”

“The other day I caught this turd making a deal in my classroom. Now I’ve got cameras in my classroom and I got him selling right there on camera. I took it to Myers and he said there was nothing he could do. Didn’t want to deal with a special ed kid.”

“Wait, what? That can’t have happened.”

Mr. B. slowly stirred his container of rice and veggies and looked me straight in the eyes. “It’s a bunch of garbage, and there’s nothing we can do.”

“Well, I can make them pancakes,” I said with a smile.


About the author

Kelley M Likes

I'm a wife & mother of five spectacular kids, retired teacher, B+ Latter-day Saint, Recovering Codependent Guide @

Find my books @

I'm also the CEO of NetherCream @

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