This month marks the debut of Mr. Reed’s Tales. Contributing editor Brian Anderson has compiled numerous stories from colleagues into a collection that will appear periodically in The Instrumentalist. Enjoy the first set, and check our August issue for the next.
During his first years at a new school, Mr. Reed had a small group of disgruntled parents who aired their grievances at band booster meetings, hoping to drag others into their fold. One particular meeting they were complaining about the state of the program and Mr. Reed’s leadership. During a lull in the discussion, one parent stood up and said, “I am sick and tired of you people always complaining about Mr. Reed. My kids love him as a teacher and I think he is doing a good job. Just leave him alone!” Mr. Reed was amazed when the majority of the boosters nodded in agreement, followed by applause from everyone except the small group of naysayers. From that point on, Mr. Reed had no further problems with the band boosters.
We’re Surprised No One Stole It
At a parent-teacher conference night during his years teaching elementary band, Mr. Reed was approached by a student’s parents, who wanted to know how their child was doing in band. Mr. Reed told them he had not seen him at his lesson in over a month. It seemed as if he always forgot his horn. The parents were confused, as they said he took his horn to school on every lesson day – they made sure of it. Mr. Reed apologized for not contacting them sooner, and they said they would talk to their student and get to the bottom of this.
The next day Mr. Reed received a phone call from the mother. The student did not want to be in band anymore. He had been taking his horn to school on the day of his lesson, but on the way to school he hid the horn behind a row of bushes outside the school building. He then told his classroom teacher and Mr. Reed that he forgot his horn. On the way home, he retrieved his horn from the bushes and take it home so his parents were none the wiser. The mother also said that the student should quit because he was wasting everyone’s time. While Mr. Reed thanked her for letting him know the situation, he felt guilty for not trying to get to the bottom of this sooner. In addition, he could not help wondering what might have been if he had been more diligent.
Mr. Reed received an email from the principal to come see him. When Mr. Reed arrived at his office, the principal informed him that he had been contacted by one of the guidance counselors. The mother of a band student had called the counselor and wanted her student out of the band. He wanted to know if there was an incident in the classroom that he needed to be aware of. When Mr. Reed said that there had not been, the principal asked him to see the counselor, as she was the one who was contacted and had all the information. Mr. Reed went to the counselor, who explained that the mother had contacted the guidance office and requested her student drop band, but she did not want Mr. Reed to know. When the counselor told her she would not remove the student without a valid reason and Mr. Reed’s knowledge, the mother became belligerent and contacted the principal. After repeated parental contacts from both Mr. Reed and the counselor, the student remained in band that year and for the rest of his high school career. No one at the school ever found out what the mother’s problem was.
As the Band was loading the buses to go to a post-season basketball tournament, a female student approached Mr. Reed.
Student: “I can’t go to the game tonight, Mr. Reed. I don’t feel well.”
Mr. Reed: “Well, I don’t think you should go if you are sick. Go home and get some rest.”
As they were heading toward the bus, the student walked toward a car in the parking lot that was filled with other teenagers, who yelled at her to hurry up and get in the car. Seeing this, Mr. Reed called her back.
Mr. Reed: “What’s with the group of kids? I don’t recognize any of them.”
Student: “Oh, they’re just taking me home.”
Mr. Reed: “But your car is in the parking lot.”
Then the light bulb came on.
Mr. Reed: “You are planning on going out with those other kids and using band as an excuse so your parents don’t know, aren’t you?”
After a few seconds of insisting she was sick, she eventually confessed, that yes, she was planning on being with those other students that night.
Mr. Reed: “Whether you go with the band tonight is up to you, but you will not use me or this activity as an excuse to deceive your parents. Let’s go.”
He escorted her inside to his office, called her parents, handed the phone to her, and had her explain the situation. Her parents requested she come home immediately, and Mr. Reed obliged. After the incident, she pouted for a couple of days in class, but then she was back to normal.
Maybe They Thought the Movie Was One Night Only
A student came up to Mr. Reed after class.
Student: “Mr. Reed, I can’t be at the concert tomorrow night.”
Mr. Reed: “What’s the problem?”
Student: “My family is going to see the opening night of the new Star Wars movie.”
Mr. Reed: “What?”
The student repeated his previous response.
Mr. Reed: “Don’t your parents know that we have a concert tomorrow night?”
Student: “Yes, but we’d rather go to the movie.”
Mr. Reed: “Well, I’m sure there are several students who would like to see the movie, but they are keeping their commitment to the band and their classmates. You need to be here. You do realize that your grade will be adversely affected?”
Student: “Yes, but we want to go to the movie.”
Mr. Reed informed the student he would be contacting his parents and did so. The parents said they were aware of the concert but wanted to take their entire family to the movie and understood this would affect their son’s grade in the course. The student missed the concert, received a poor grade, and Mr. Reed never heard another word from the parents or student about the incident.
The student stayed in the program throughout his high school career and never missed another performance.
Foiled Teenager II
The band was on a trip as part of a theme park festival. As they were preparing to leave for the theme park that morning, a female student approached Mr. Reed.
Student: “Mr. Reed. I don’t feel well. I need to stay at the motel.”
Mr. Reed: “What seems to be the problem?”
Student: “I just don’t feel well and don’t think I should go, but I don’t want to ruin everyone else’s good time so I’ll just stay here.”
Mr. Reed: “If you really think you need to stay here you can, but either I or one of the other adult chaperones will be here with you. You will not be here alone.”
Student: “I don’t want to cause any trouble. I’ll be fine here by myself.”
Mr. Reed: “Out of the question. Let’s go talk to our nurse and see if she can figure out what’s wrong.”
The student insisted that she didn’t need medical attention, she just needed to stay by herself and get some rest. The nurse checked her for symptoms and told Mr. Reed that she didn’t think anything was wrong with the student. This was not agreeable to the student, so Mr. Reed contacted her parents. He let the nurse share her concerns, and the parents agreed and told their daughter to go along with everyone. The nurse also told the student that there were First Aid Stations at the theme park where she could lay down if she felt ill.
As the students and chaperones were boarding the buses, a young male who was not with the band came up to the female student and asked, “Did you get it worked out to stay here?” When the girl said no, he asked what park they were going to. Mr. Reed hurried over to the young man and told him to leave and not bother any of the band students again. He then called a quick chaperones meeting and reminded them to watch the students closely and report any people hanging around who weren’t with the band. They never saw the young man again.
Prior to a class period, the Assistant Principal stopped by. He was in charge of Mr. Reed’s evaluation for that school year and wanted to watch class for 10-15 minutes to get an idea of the class dynamics before beginning the official evaluation procedure. Mr. Reed welcomed him into the room and soon forgot he was there, as he was concerned about the daily lesson. Later that day the Assistant Principal sent a note to Mr. Reed in which he stated how much he enjoyed being in his class that day. He also added that Mr. Reed was one of the true instructional leaders on the staff, and that the school should take advantage of his expertise in training the younger teachers. Mr. Reed walked home a little taller that evening.