Nine grade nine boys tromp into the office and hover around Grace’s desk waiting for their late slips. Classes started ten minutes ago.
Great, I think, just great. It’s only the second day of school and already they’re waltzing in late. To make matters worse, I’m the new principal. I don’t know the boys. They’re bigger than me, and carry a swaggering insolence. My predecessor, I suspect, was too lenient, maybe even a bit afraid of them.
They saunter out of the office. I know I have to do something, but what?
“Grace, please give me a list of the names and the classes the boys are in right now.”
Armed with my bit of paper, I head off to the math class. I knock and enter. “Sorry, to interrupt,” I say. “Tom, Kirk, Igor, Brian, stand up please.” They do.
The class watches, all eyes on me. This is a test, no question. My mind goes blank. I walked in here armed with their names and no plan. Oh, dear Lord, what do I do now?
That’s when inspiration hits. “You came in late from lunch. I’m guessing you must not have watches, so here’s the plan. I have a watch. I’ll come for lunch with you tomorrow and then I can let you know when it’s time to come back to school.”
The boys start to protest. I hold up my hand for silence. “Or, you can come back on time yourselves.”
“But, but…” they sputter.
“No, no, don’t say anything now. Tom, you are group representative. At dismissal, you come and let me know what you guys have decided.”
Before I leave the room, I glance over to the teacher who is grinning broadly.
I repeat my performance in the second class. I go back to my office wondering just what will happen next.
When the bell rings for nutrition break, nine huge bodies pile into my office and loom over me. “We’ll be back on time,” they say in unison.
“You sure?” I ask. “I’d really love to go for lunch with you guys.”
“Oh, we’re sure,” Tom says. The others nod emphatically.
“Well, okay then.”
And yes, the next day they are back on time.