7th Grade Science Class Was Horrifying for This Aspie

Miss McHendry’s No Science 7th Grade Science Class
by Mari Stein
The worst teacher I ever had, indeed the worst teacher I ever saw, was Miss McHendry. She was 4 feet 9 inches of pure crazy. We all knew this not only from her reputation of jumping off her desk, but I knew it from those eyes. Her eyes glittered with unfounded excitement. The first day of class we wondered how long it would be until she jumped. I, for one, wanted that to be a myth. I hoped it was an untruth enjoyed and perpetuated by each class to titillate the next class. Everybody loves an “in” joke; Miss McHendry was the perfect foil,but she proved the myth to be true.10-Awesome-Facts-About-Halloween-Movies-You-Had-No-Idea-Of-2
The first week of class she climbed on the chair and onto the desk. There she made some noise asserting that humans can’t fly, even if they flap their arms. So there she is, tight grey curls badly contained on her elderly head, crazy eyes looking directly at her captive audience, while trying to raise onto her toes. The thick heels of her heavy black oxfords made quite a task of it, but she didn’t let that stop her. She had been doing this bi monthly for more years than anyone could remember. She mustered enough lift to carry her off the desk, and as she landed on the floor she said, “Humans can’t fly.” The other thing she did that first week was give us our ONE and only assignment for the year. We were to collect fall leaves for class. They had to be ‘perfect’ leaves, not small, not large, not spotted, not curled. Only perfect leaves would qualify. I drove my mother crazy obsessing about my leaves not being perfect enough. This was for a GRADE. 57_1oak_leaf_scaler
Miss McHendry loved to teach standing on her desk. She was my homeroom teacher and one of two science teachers for the 7th grade. It was my misfortune to have her as a teacher instead of the real science teacher. I absolutely detest crazy for the sake of crazy, and that is exactly what we were dealing with. We had science books, we could have spent that 50 minutes each day studying science. Studying directly from the books. It would have required no effort on her part. She could have made up test questions directly from the review in each section. We could have had Science Class. Instead we had a woman instructing us on ‘men with value vs. men without value’.
“My father was a wonderful man,” she raised her eyes, her face glowed with a beatific smile. Then she launched into a tribute about her father’s military heroism. She was too old to be teaching, so I could never really understand when his military career took place, but it didn’t matter because from there she launched into a diatribe about men who didn’t serve in the military. I think this diatribe covered any and all wars. “Namby Pambies they are! Panty Waists I say. They are not worth my father’s pinkie finger!” As she said this she had her hands on her hips and minced around, back and forth on the desk.
As she got angrier over these ‘Nambie Pambies’, she adopted her Shirley Temple voice and a five year old child’s earnestness. She drew her elbow back then thrust her fist forward and upward in an awkward hooray kind of motion. It was as confusing as it was disturbing.
I for one hated it. I hated it every day. It’s not like we ever went to class and has a science class. We no longer had those expectations, but as a person who values order and routine, I detested never knowing what the day’s crazy was going to be.
Of course we all got B’s on our report cards. We kept asking when we should turn in our leaves. “Not yet” she would say, She never wanted them. She changed her mind.


3 thoughts on “7th Grade Science Class Was Horrifying for This Aspie

  1. It sounds like your science teacher would have been a better ROTC teacher, what with her lecturing from atop her desk about her military iconic father. I had to collect leaves too, but mine were never perfect. Great piece of memoir writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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