As most of you know, I graduated college in May. Imagine my sheer, unadulterated joy when in July, I got a big flat envelope in the mail which I almost threw away because I thought it was another “Get our insurance before your hip breaks” letter from AARP. Luckily I glanced at the return address and saw it was from my college, my old alma mater. I opened it up and gently lifted out the piece of paper that meant I had done it—I, Amy Koko was a college graduate at the age of fifty-ish. Okay, fifty seven–ish.

And then I called my parents who jumped in their car and rushed over because at this point they really needed to see it with their own eyes. And then I group texted my kids: “Mom is officially a college graduate!” And one texted back and said, “What? Who is this?” and another one texted back and said, “Cool. Do you know where I can buy stamps?” and one was actually working and just sent a thumbs up emoji.

So, now, with degree in hand, I began the search for the job of my dreams. No more giving foot baths at a spa, or lugging coffee tables shaped like sea turtles out to people’s cars for them or pretending I know anything about boat lifts as I hold open houses at waterfront homes on Sunday mornings instead of having eggs benedict and mimosas with other successful adults enjoying a well earned brunch.

No, now I could pursue an actual CAREER. I have a degree, after all. In writing no less. The world is my oyster.

You will be happy to know that after months of searching the internet and doing a ton of research on jobs available to women of my age and educational level, I found it. My new career. I am officially a substitute teacher, at the local private school down the street. I am very qualified to sub in classes ranging from Pre-K to senior high school. VERY QUALIFIED, I mean once I got my fingerprints done and stuff.

School started in August and then one day in September, as I was sipping my coffee and debating maybe just a bite of a flax seed bran muffin that I bought at Fresh Market two days ago, it happened. I got the call. “We need you. Can you be here by 11?”

World here I come! I am needed and yes I will be there! Don’t worry kids! Ms. Koko is on her way!

I arrived at 10:45 looking very professional in a black dress and kitten heels, chic yet refined. Elegant yet approachable. One look at me and the kids will know I am the person that can guide them, teach them, help them make the tough decisions they will be faced with. I want them to know they can come to me, any time with anything. I’m here for them.

Susan, the assistant administrator tells me, “You will be subbing in Senior English class. Oh, and you will have lunch duty from 12 to 12:30. Mrs. Smeade left you instructions, she’s very throrough. I’m sure you will have no problems,” and then she showed me to my classroom. MY CLASSROOM!

I entered the room and sat behind the desk. Looking at the long, empty tables and chairs (No desks? Where are the desks? It looks like the boardroom from Mad Men in here!) I felt the enormity of the task ahead of me. Teaching English to seniors, young adults who would soon be making their way in the world, a new generation leading us all into the future. I will have left a mark on them. They will remember me in the years to come and think, “I know Ms. Koko would be proud,” as they climb the corporate ladder or become President or some other great thing.

A bell rings and soon the room begins to fill with young adults. Some are wearing sunglasses. That’s okay. I will foster creativity and individuality. They are laughing and talking and don’t seem to notice me here behind the desk. The bell rings and I stand up and walk to the front. Still lots of talking, and LOTS of laughing. “I’m Ms. Koko,” I say and write my name on the board.

  Still talking and laughing.

Now I say a little louder, “Ms. Smeade wants you all to finish your grammar worksheets? You guys have those right?” They nod. Then they noisily pull out backpacks and notebooks and papers and computers and tablets and pens and phones and get to work.

  As they get to work I sit back down at the desk. The room is quiet now. There’s only one thing for me to do which is to play Word Connect on my phone, obviously. After a few moments a young man approaches my desk: “Ms. Koko? I wonder if you could help me with these transitive and intransitive verbs?”

WTF? Are these kids studying for their masters? A verb is an action word right?

  “Nope.” I say. “Why don’t you go sit down. Maybe you should google it.”

  So. This young man learned a lesson from me today. I just taught him to depend on himself, search for answers, work through obstacles that are blocking his path. You’re sitting at a table next to other students. Look at a friend’s paper like a normal kid for God’s sake.

  He will thank me in years to come.

  I believe my work here is done.








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