A snowstorm began. All the city-bound buses were canceled. Near the stop, there wasn’t a single store or a café under which roof I could hide from the wind and cold. Nothing save a forest and a long broad street with posh mansions surrounded by three-meter high concrete walls. I tucked my hands into my pockets, wrapped the scarf around my nose, and settled down on a chilly bench hoping for a miracle.
My name is Eirene. I’m an ordinary teacher of mathematics. In my childhood, I dreamed of becoming a journalist, a chemist, and a doctor. But my family willed I would enter a pedagogical university, a department of mathematics. I began working while still a student, initially as a librarian and a technician at the University’s chairs, and then as a school teacher. It is a standard practice to give new teachers particularly “uproarious” classes. As a rule, the outstanding achievements of such classes are registered in police records and the Principal’s copious archives containing numerous complaints from teachers, parents, and parallel class pupils. It was those children with their immediate problems, tears, treacheries, laziness and endless boredom in their eyes who showed me the real world of education. This world differed somewhat from the ideal picture painted by the university textbooks describing modern pedagogical approaches and cutting-edge technologies. That was a planet of conservative outlooks and rigid hierarchy.
Four years later, I decided to change my job for that at a private school where my salary could grow from 180 to 540 dollars a month. But it looked rather like a dream. In fact, I ended up deeply disappointed in a snowstorm and with a broken heel to boot. It was freezing hard. I felt I was getting cold. I had no strength left and fell asleep on a bench near the bus stop.
I woke up hearing somebody croon by my side. Sitting next to me was a vivacious old man in a stylish brown raincoat. Such raincoats are usually worn by chief characters of computer games. The old man appeared to be very amiable. He treated me to some hot tea from his thermos flask and a bar of chocolate. We fell to talking. Listening to my mishaps, he sighed compassionately and smiled cunningly. If I were not so upset, I’d be more vigilant and less talkative.
“You want to be the best teacher?” the old man asked.
“Of course! But how can I?”
“You won’t know until you try,” the old man grunted, holding out a very thin booklet to me. Its cover was made of leather with velvet insets and plates decorated with enamel and twisted golden wire. Obviously, that was a hand-crafted piece of art. Inside the booklet were only two sheets. The first one was an invitation to a teachers’ refresher course and another showed an address for a job interview plus organizers’ contact information.