(Please, just call me Ma’am)
I’m officially a Captain now: Captain Currier. It sounds like a cross between a Star Trek character and a brand of cereal, and I prefer my students to call me Ma’am.
Teaching is fun, in that crazy, I-haven’t-slept-in-four-days-and-where-did-my-red-pen-go? kind of way. Teaching at a military school definitely has its perks, though some of them are double-edged sword in nature.
Take, for instance, the uniform. On the plus side, I don’t have to wonder what I’m going to wear every day, or care about whether or not my students notice I’ve worn the same skirt three days in a row. I only have to worry about pressed inseams and getting my pins on straight—my nameplate equidistant from the second button and the inseam of the sleeve, and the school emblem centered above the middle of my name. And I can’t leave without “boards” on my shoulder, which display the “Captain” insignia. Double bars, woot woot!
The downside to the uniform IS the uniform. Before it was tailored (the second time), I looked like a kid who raided her father’s closet to play dress-up. Now that the clothes fit, I appear only slightly less ridiculous. Take, for instance:
The shirt: A stiff, white button-down that upholds the saying “white expands” and makes me look like a pregnant starched marshmallow.
The pants: Royal blue with a gold stripe down the side, which I have dubbed “band pants.” I feel better suited for a drum strapped to my chest than for a classroom. And let’s not forget that the pants—by design—come up to my bellybutton and fall even with my ankle, allowing my socks to show any time I’m not standing perfectly erect.
The hat: This is a garrison hat.
It’s navy blue, which is interesting in contrast to the royal blue pants, and makes my head come to a point. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the hat; I just look like a tool wearing it.
Then there’s the issue of saluting.
Anyone of lower rank is to salute a person of higher rank, which means the cadets have to salute me. This is an odd experience and one I like to avoid at all costs. It’d be one thing if they just saluted and I gave an appreciative nod, but no—I have to return the salute. There are rules to proper salutation, and I won’t go through them, but it’s harder than it looks, especially when one is under pressure and panics.
There are two caveats:
- No need to salute indoors, and
- If a person of lesser rank is walking with a person of higher rank, only the higher rank individual returns the salute.
Therefore, if I never go outside, or if I’m always walking with a person of higher rank, I’m in the clear!
Obviously, I can’t avoid the outdoors entirely; there is no limo service to my classroom door. I must face the students occasionally. But I try to only go outside during times of low traffic, and never during lunchtime, unless caveat #2 (from above) is satisfied. There is a rule in the Blue Book (the 100-page handbook students memorize) that says RATS—recruits at training—must always walk with purpose. No moseying around. No dilly-dallying, slow-paced nonsense. Square those corners and march!
When I am outside, I abide by that rule. I walk with purpose. In fact, when I don’t see cadets around, I am one shade away from sprinting. GET ME TO THE BUILDING NOW!
Safely inside, I can take off my hat, rest my arm, and worry about the whole rest of it: what it means to be a teacher.