The Herdmans – Part 3

A teacher for whom I have the greatest respect is Keith Morgan. Together we worked on projects, took courses and served on a district committee. He was principal of Leatherbarrow Primary during my time there. I think the reason Keith stands out is because he was truly in the business for all the right reasons – he was, indeed, student-centred. I have worked with administrators who were policy-centred, power-centred, curriculum-centred and whatever-is-convenient-at-the -moment-centred. I believe the ones who make the biggest and most positive difference are the ones who are student-centred. Keith, thank-you; you inspired me in so many ways.

The Herdmans – Part 3

Of course, I am not referring to this family by their actual names. So, why am I calling them the Herdman’s? A few years prior to their arrival at our school, our annual theatre production was called, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It centred around six delinquent children with the surname Herdman. It was a delightful comedy and a perfect Christmas-themed, middle school play. When the family in question arrived at our school, it wasn’t long until someone said, “Oh my God, it’s the Herdmans.” The name stuck.

I forget the incident, but I was, once again, having a chat with Billy K, the youngest of the Herdmans. Shortly into our conversation he announced that he wanted to see his brothers. I explained that the reason for our conversation had nothing to do with his brothers and that we, at least for the time being, would be chatting alone. He said, “Nope, I going to find my brothers” and ran out the door and down the hall. I was certain that he going in search of the brother in grade 7.

Early into their tenure at our school, it became obvious to us that it was wise to keep the three boys apart. They actually took on a different persona when together. I was impressed that they obviously had each other’s back but when having to deal with one in the presence of another it became a whole different matter. As one staff member said, “When together they’re like wolverines.”

I followed Billy K down the hall. He was standing in the intersection of the middle school wing, trying to figure which classroom door let to his brother. I caught up to him.

“Billy K, come back to the office with me.”

“No. I want to see my brother.”

“I’m sorry. Your brother is in class and we are not going to disturb him or his teacher. Now come with me back to the office. We have things we need to talk about.”


After a bit more verbal sparring I said, “OK. You don’t leave me much choice.” I picked him up, placed him under my right arm and carried him back to the office. All the way he kicked, flailed his arms and called me all kinds of unsavoury things.

After we returned to my office he said, “I am going to have your job. I’m going to get you fired.”

“Really? For carrying you back to my office?”

“Yes”, he said. “What is your lawyer’s name?”.

I gave him the name of the lawyer on staff with the our teacher’s association. “What is your lawyer’s name?”

“None of your business. I want to talk to your boss.”

Having spoken to him earlier, I knew that the District Elementary Supervisor was in his office. I figured, if I contacted him, this would make for a better story, so I called. Now, technically, he wasn’t my boss, but Billy K didn’t know that. After Steve answered the phone I explained to him that I had a grade 3 student who wanted me fired. I put him on speaker phone.

“Hello Billy, what seems to be the problem?”

“I want the principal fired.”

Steve said, “Really, on what grounds?” So Billy K explained exactly what happened. He didn’t embellish at all – he told it exactly as it happened.

“So let me get this straight, Mr Caines wanted you to stay in his office, you refused and left his office and he ended up carrying you back. That being the case, I don’t think he did anything wrong.”

Billy leaned over the phone and said, “Yeah? Well you’re an idiot.”

He never did get me fired.

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