The mask
Drum English|23 April 2020
The mask
Phumla is the worst-behaved student in his class, but his new teacher knows a trick or two
NQOBILE NGCOBO

MRS Khune was a woman whose actions spoke louder than words. She was kind and gentle but she had a presence that couldn’t be ignored.

When she decided to be a teacher, her relatives were not certain she’d made the right choice. But Mrs Khune knew it was her calling. Teaching was not child’s play – it required self-control, patience, love and dedication.

“Good morning, class,” Mr Biko called the room to order. “I’d like to introduce Mrs Khune, your new class teacher. Please don’t give her a hard time – we don’t want her to quit before she’s even started.”

The principal left Mrs Khune and headed back to his office. He was anxious about how she’d handle such a difficult class. Many teachers had given up on the learners of Grade 10A because of their disobedience and high failure rate.

“Good morning, as Mr Biko said, I’m your new class teacher.”

“Do you know why the last teacher left?” one of the students called out and the rest of the class erupted in laughter.

“No, no one informed me. Perhaps you’d care to enlighten me?”

Her question was met with silence. “Well, if you don’t want to tell me, let’s not waste any more time and begin by marking the register.”

The teacher’s confidence started to sink into the learners, even those who used to be the rulers of the classroom.

Phumla was the most feared in class. He had a beautiful, deep, rich baritone voice he used very effectively to scare his classmates and teachers. But Mrs Khune was completely unfazed.

“You have a good voice – I think we should form a choir. We can’t let this go to waste,” she told him.

Phumla was not amused – how could his most powerful weapon be so easily turned into a harmless singing instrument?

“So, Mrs Khune, how was your first day in class?” a concerned Mr Biko asked later that afternoon.

“It was fantastic, sir, thank you for asking.”

“You mean it was frustrating, right?” “No, fantastic. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

THE next morning, all the classes were busy with their work except Grade 10A. You could hear their noise at the far end of the school.

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23 April 2020