The Sugar Quill
Author: S. Gwendolyn (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Just Being You  Chapter: Prologue
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The desks were in perfectly straight rows.  The walls had been covered with subject appropriate material.  There was a mug full of extra quills, a few bottles of ink, two or three rolls of parchment, and a couple copies of the textbook on a table near the front of the classroom for students who came unprepared.  In twelve short hours, the room would be filled with dozens of noisy, hormone-driven teenagers.  Many would be excited to return to be with their friends and school activities.  A few would sigh and roll their eyes as they counted off the days until the summer holiday.  And some would be nervously waiting to find what their new teacher would be like.  Would she be fair?  How strict was she?  Was she nice?  Would she understand that they might not be able to finish all of their homework for her class because of an unreasonable essay assigned at the last moment by their Potion’s professor?

But as uneasy as each student might be, it was nothing compared to the anxiety Professor Blake was feeling.  For the fourth time, she rewrote her name on the chalkboard cursing because it appeared uneven again and started over once more.  She had been terrified fifteen years previous when she had begun her own studies as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  But that fear paled in comparison when she remembered that she was starting her first official day as a teacher tomorrow.  What if the students didn’t like her?  What if they started throwing paper airplanes, or whatever they did these days, around the classroom?  How would she handle it?  Was she allowed to ask other members of the staff for advice?  How was she ever going to live with the fear of knowing that she could completely destroy a student’s education if she made a mistake?  Perhaps, she should just quit now.

That’s it, she thought.  Just give up now, and no harm will come to anyone.  Nearly sprinting back to her office, she threw open her door and started tossing lesson plans and other personal items back into the boxes they had recently left.  Through the open door, she could hear the first students beginning to arrive.  That meant she should be sitting at the staff table to greet all of them with a warm and friendly smile.  But they would just have to find someone else to fill the position.

Given fifteen minutes, she probably would have completely emptied her office and quarters, and been on the road back to Hogsmeade.  But as she threw her personal copy of Sense and Sensibility onto of a stack of books, an unopened envelope that had been gently placed inside fell to the floor.  She was momentarily tempted to toss it on top of her belongings again and read it once she was far away from the castle, but curiosity got the better of her.  Carefully, she slid her finger along the edge of the parchment and broke the seal.

My dear Professor Blake,

Professor—sounds intimidating, doesn’t it?  I thought so as well the first day that I started teaching.  I didn’t feel old enough to be labeled as a professor.  But don’t worry; soon you’ll forget that you even had a first name other than “Professor.”  

I wanted you to know that I’m proud of what you’re doing.  Your parents would be proud as well.  Your father always said that you would someday find a way to change the world.  And what better way to change the world than to teach the future generation.

I know some members of the staff will tell you that you shouldn’t smile at your students until Christmas.  But for me, teaching is a matter of relating what you know to those who don’t know in such a way that your students will come back begging for more.  You can be strict and fair; a disciplinarian and a friend.  I know that must seem like a contradiction, but I believe that you can do it.  The most important thing that I learned from teaching was to JUST BE YOURSELF!  (Unfortunately for me, I learned that a little too late.)

So, chin up.  You’ll be fine.  I can’t wait to hear about all of my former students at Christmas.

Yours truly,

— (former) Professor R. J. Lupin

Professor Blake sat silently on the floor of her office and reread the letter.  She sighed as she looked at the half-filled boxes around her.  Staying would require meeting her fears head on.  But if she left, would the next professor care about her students in the same way as she did?  Her students—she hadn’t even met them yet and she was already taking responsibility for them.  She would have to thank Remus the next time she saw him for reminding her that she should be herself.  Thank him for that bit of advice, and chastise him for inspiring her with an idea for a new lesson plan for the first day of school that would require her staying up half the night to prepare.

She picked herself up off the floor, dusted off her robes, and faced the mess that she had created.  Sighing, she decided to leave it for tomorrow.  Professor Blake had the future generation waiting for her—well, waiting to eat if nothing else.

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