reporter, editor, teacher
After some nerves in the ICS parking lot this afternoon, the boys joined the line outside the lunchroom, navigated the crowds inside, and – amid hugs and hand-slaps from last year’s teachers – registered for school and after-hours activities. Bill also signed up for a heavy dose of soccer.
Then, the brothers met their new teachers. In the trailer behind the lunch room, teacher Sherry Forbes and assistant Naza Orlovic were waiting for Bill. “Mister President!” Ms. Sherry said, opening her arms. She showed him his new desk and gave him a packet of worksheets. Bill liked her, he said later, but he’s nervous about third grade; friends have warned him that “she give hard homework.”
Then it was over to Igey’s room, a bright, colorful space in the basement of the main school building. Teacher Michael Sanders met Igey with a hug and patient answers to his many questions.
But it was assistant Janine Ndayaremwa, from Burundi, whom the boys’ mom, Dawami, was most excited to meet. Neither of Dawami’s sons has been taught by a fellow Swahili-speaker before – so in their first two years of American school, Dawami has never talked to anyone but her husband about their education. She took to Ms. Janine immediately, confiding her worries about Igey’s school performance and her puzzlement about why he’s such a different kid at home, where he’s lively and curious, and at school, where he can be defiant and withdrawn.
On the way home, the family stopped at Wal-Mart to buy the boys new uniforms. Other ICS families were already there, yelling “Mohammed!” and chasing half-clad kindergartners down the aisles. Bill tried to hide when his mom ordered him to take off his T-shirt in the middle of the boys’ department and try on a new white polo. But Igey traded his shirt gladly and danced in the aisle like a rap star, saying: “That’s what I’m talking about!”
(Published as part of The Christian Science Monitor series “Little Bill Clinton: A School Year in the Life of a New American”)