The strictest teacher of them all
They were all strict, all the teachers in the big school, but one of them seemed especially strict. His name was Mr Smethurst and he taught them geography. In the summer, before they had left Year 6 in the primary school, they had visited the big comprehensive and spent a day there. There was an assembly and a lot of teachers were introduced to them. Cindy had turned to her friend Ruth and said very quietly, “I hope he doesn’t teach us.”
Then, on the second day of the new term, there he was standing in front of them. They remembered him. He was wearing the same grey suit and his hair cut could not have been any shorter. He said nothing, but just looked at them until they were all sitting still. Cindy remembered now; he was the only teacher in that assembly who had not smiled.
In the corner of the classroom, somewhere behind Cindy, someone scrapped a chair.
“You boy.” Mr Smethurst was bellowing at one of the boys. “Stand up, will you?” The teacher pointed a long finger at the boy. “Tell me, are you incapable of sitting still for more than a few seconds?”
The boy struggled to his feet.
“Well, young man, I asked you a question.”
Mr Smethurst’s other hand was tucked neatly in his jacket pocket while he continued to point and stare at the boy who had fidgeted in his chair. It was as if he had forgotten all about the rest of them. Cindy felt sorry for the boy.
“Right. So you have no answer for me.” Still the boy said nothing and Mr Smethurst was beckoning to him now, to come out to the front of the class. The boy made his way, past the other children, and stood with his head down in front of this terrifying teacher.
“So, I will have to punish you, young man. What’s your name?”
“Er, Billy – er Billy sir. Billy Watson.”
“Right young Billy Watson.” Mr Smethurst was lifting a bag out of his pocket. From the bag he picked out a sweet. For the first time he looked around at the class then tossed the sweet into the air and caught it in his mouth. Something about his face had changed and Cindy realised that Mr Smethurst was almost smiling.
“There.” Mr Smethurst paused and seemed to struggle with a smile. “Now then, Billy. These sweets are the most popular sweets you will find in this school. I want you to offer them around the class. Look, start over here.”
Once Billy started his journey around the class, Mr Smethurst’s smile took over. “Right, class, whatever you do, don’t believe anything that people tell you about me.”
Around her, Cindy could tell that all the class was smiling. She looked up and saw that the teacher was smiling back at them.
“Now then, thank you, Billy.”
Why did Cindy fell sorry for Billy?
Why do you think Mr Smethurst pretended to be strict?