For Christine Rembert, principal at Francis W. Parker School 56 in Indianapolis Public Schools, education is the family business.
Her dad teaches chemistry to adults, and her mom is a retired high school English teacher. So it made sense that Rembert, too, would be an educator. As she has transitioned from a teacher to an administrator, she’s done a lot of learning — in fact, she considers herself not the person with all the answers, but the “lead learner” in her school.
And it hasn’t always been glamorous. Dealing with bodily fluids, for example, is a regular part of her day. As a new principal, she confronted that head-on in an anecdote she recounted in a recent story slam sponsored by Chalkbeat, Teachers Lounge Indy, WFYI Public Media, and the Indianapolis Public Library.
Here’s an excerpt of her story. It has been lightly edited for length and clarity:
The last story I have to tell happened in my first few months as a school administrator, and I’ve learned many things from this story. I was sitting at my desk and doing some work, and my behavior person came in.
That’s the person who’s kind of the bouncer in the school who manages all the naughty kids. So we had that person, and she came in, and she was a tall woman — over 6 feet tall. She looked down at my desk, and she said: Do you want me to tell you the story first?
And I, in all my brand-new administrator wisdom, said no. And she goes, well, I have a teacher and a kid, and we need to talk to you.
And I was like, OK come on in!
Well, note to self: When the behavior person says do you want me to tell you the story, you need to say yes right then.
Because the reason is you have to not laugh.
So the teacher came in, and she has a Clorox wipe, and she’s (frantically wiping her nose). And I was like, OK, that’s weird. She sat down, and the child came in, and she was kind of sad.
I proceeded to hear the story whereby the child had stuck her finger into her (wet) belly button and then held it up to the teacher’s nose and said: Smell my finger.
Public education is like living in a fraternity house.
Check out the video below to hear the rest of Rembert’s story.
You can find more stories from educators, students, and parents here.