There have been many movies and TV shows that attempt to highlight, through drama or comedy, the issues that exist in America’s inner-city schools. But what is it like, really? “Confessions of a Rogue Teacher” by novelist and retired teacher George Colon, employs plot as a vehicle to communicate the realities of life for an inner-city teacher.
“Confessions of a Rogue Teacher” opens with English teacher Manny Quesada hurrying back to his classroom from the restroom. He has just had what the reader finds out in Chapter 2, an altercation with one of his students, Wilson Contreras. In the course of this altercation things turned physical and Manny had hit Wilson in self-defense. This fateful event will drive the entire plot of “Confessions of a Rogue Teacher,” not only for Manny but for the people around him as well.
As one would expect, as a result of Manny’s altercation there is an inquiry. As a result, Manny is removed from the classroom pending a full review. This is a great blow to a man who had dedicated his life to teaching and at one time held to the ideal that he could help his fellow Puerto Ricans rise up from poverty through education. Now, after 20 years of teaching, Manny is felled by an altercation resulting in a momentary act of anger and impulse. As a result of the altercation, Manny is instructed to report to the superintendent’s office. Unsure of where he stands or if he will even be allowed to return to the classroom, Manny is faced with a new reality; what comes next?
“I’ve been here three days now and don’t know why,” I complained. “I have union rights.” I’d called Peter Goldstein, who told me Joseph Arimet, roving troubleshooter, would contact me, but he hadn’t yet.
“You’ve been placed in this office,” he twiddled his moustache. “I didn’t send for you.” While he let these words sink in, his eyes bore down on me with the sneer of command. “Don’t know what you’ve done – don’t care.”
His eyes softened, though not his tone, “When Minerva returns, she’ll talk to you. For now, man a desk, file papers, and handle the phone. Take messages and complaints. Give information. No opinions. Tell callers they’ll be contacted. Mario will break you in. He’s got a problem, too.”
George Colon is a native of Puerto Rico and grew up in the South Bronx neighborhoods. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s of Secondary Education, Colon returned to the South Bronx. He was a teacher there for 30 years. Upon retiring, he began writing. This is his first published novel. Colon has a wife and daughter and still resides in the Bronx.
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