Mitzi Mufflin - Principal for a Day
Publishing date early 2019
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Exerpt: Chapter 1 Mitzi Mufflin - Principal for a Day

Chapter 1 

Hello Mitzi Rain, rain, and more spring rain. It had been pelting and pounding Mortimer Potts Elementary School for days.
       “I’m sick of it,” declared Hoops Russell. “I was counting on practicing my hook shot. This indoor recess stinks!” He wadded up a piece of notebook paper and sent it sailing across the room into the trash can.   Marques and Janie ducked as the paper ball sailed over their heads.
      Bonnie Skinks wheeled herself over to Hoops. “Relax, Hoops. You’re just nervous because the championship basketball game is tomorrow. I just know we’re going to win. Stottlemyer School doesn’t have a team half as good as ours!” She pulled a checkerboard out of a bag suspended from the arm of her purple wheelchair. “Let’s play a game of checkers. That will keep your mind off the game.”
       “That’s right Hoops, you have nothing to worry about. Our cheerleading squad came up with some great new cheers for the game. We can’t lose!  Do you want to hear one?  GIVE ME AN ‘M,’ GIVE ME AN ‘O,’…,” Janie’s  loud voice rang out enthusiastically before she was cut off by Miss Timmons. 
      “Thank you Janie.  I’m sure everyone would love to hear your cheers, but it would be much better to surprise everyone tomorrow.” This statement resulted in scattered applause from various parts of the room. While Hoops allowed himself to be drawn into a checker game with Bonnie. 
      Marques continued working on a sketch of Janie’s face.  He was having trouble getting her mouth just right because she kept talking.  “I can’t believe how nice Hoops is to Bonnie. He doesn’t usually like anybody who isn’t athletic.” She said.  Marques nodded thoughtfully. “Hoops has mellowed out since Bonnie joined the class last September. He doesn’t care that she uses a wheelchair to get around.  Maybe he’s changed his ways.”
       “I hope so,” Janie said. “He used to be pretty mean. 
       “Ha! Hoops has changed?”  Frederick “French Frye slipped into the seat next to Marques.  He had just come from the main office where his sister Myra worked as a student aide.  He liked to make excuses to visit the office during recess time to see if Myra had any new gossip.  Today, he had big news to share. “Hoops is going to have a fit.  We’re getting a new girl in our class and she’s blind!” Marques stopped sketching.
      “That’s terrible!” said Janie.
      Marques nodded, adding, “I can’t imagine not being able to see.  How would I draw?” He signed his name at the bottom of Janie’s portrait with a flourish.  It was a rather good likeness, although it looked a bit strange  because Janie’s mouth was open.
      French looked over at Hoops, playing checkers with Bonnie.  “Yeah, I feel sorry for the new kid.  Hoops can’t think before he speaks.  Remember how he acted the last time a new kid in a wheelchair came to school? I sure hope that Hoops doesn’t give the new kid a hard time.”   The others agreed.  Their conversation was suddenly interrupted by the classroom door suddenly  opening with a crash.            
      “Head’s up! Look sharp! I like to run over feet,” yelled Mr. Jasper, bumping through the doorway, pushing a cart loaded with a large box and a variety of smaller boxes.  He unloaded the cart and whipped out a box cutter.  “Where do you want the new computer set up, Miss Timmons?”           
     “Over here on this desk please.” Miss Timmons pointed to the empty student desk next to Hoops.            
     Hoops was pleased.  It seemed that there was never enough time on the classroom computers.  It seemed like an odd place to put one though.  “Hey Miss Timmons, he called out.  Why are you sticking the computer in the middle of the room instead of on the back wall with the other ones?”           
      “Oh, that’s not for the class, Hoops, it’s for our new student, Mitzi.  It has a specialized software program loaded in just for her use.”           
     “Huh?”  Hoops was dumbfounded.  That wasn’t fair.  Why should a new kid get her own computer?  “I object” he said loudly with a scowl.
                                                                                                          ********               
     After indoor recess, the class had settled into their afternoon routine of journal writing. The silence was broken by loud talking and footsteps coming from down the hallway. The classroom door opened, revealing Mr. Beamer, the acting principal, and a girl with long dark brown braids, some of which swirled around the top of her head in an elaborate pattern. She was wearing rainbow colored dark glasses and a plaid raincoat. She carefully entered the room, using a long skinny white cane to check for obstacles in her path. She stood quietly while Mr. Beamer whispered to Miss Timmons. He then turned to face the class.            
     “Ahem.” He cleared his throat. “Class, this is Mitzi Mufflin from Montrose, Maine.             
      Mr. Beamer said, frowning.             Hoops slapped his desk in delight. “Wait! I just thought up some more M words.  Mitzi, that Madras Macintosh will prevent Malaise in this May Monsoon.             “MR. RUSSELL!”  Mr. Beamer’s voice rose.             Hoops shook his head sadly.  “I’m sorry Mr. Beamer.  I’m a Miscreant.”            Miss Timmons looked puzzled.  “Hoops, I don’t understand why you flunk every vocabulary test.             Mr. Beamer looked sternly at the class as he put his hand under Mitzi’s elbow and led her to the desk with the new equipment.  The screen reader and headphones would allow Mitzi to hear what was on her computer screen.  Mr. Beamer looked directly at Hoops as he spoke, “I know that EVERYONE will help Mitzi feel welcome.    Goodbye Mitzi.  Let me know if you have any problems.”   He shot one more warning glance at Hoops, and he was gone.             The entire class sat silently, everyone staring at the new girl.             “Well then, said Miss Timmons brightly, “Why don’t we introduce ourselves to Mitzi.”  Hoops wasn’t listening.  He was busy making faces at the new student.             Mitzi suddenly stood up. “Thanks Miss Timmons. Here, have an apple.   No need to be nervous.  Actually, I’m just like the other kids in most ways.  You must be new to the teaching game.”            “Why yes, this is my first teaching assignment.  I took over for Mr. Beamer earlier this year when he became acting principal.  How did you know?”            “Oh, I’m very good at listening for information.  You seem jittery.  Any experienced teacher wouldn’t show they’re nervous.  That’s how they lose control of the class.”            “Is that so?” Miss Timmons was slightly insulted.             “Now everybody, please tell me your name and something about yourself.  It can be what you look like or a favorite hobby.  You see, I’ve got to memorize your voices.  Let’s start with this Hoops person.  The one who’s making faces at me.”            Hoops was stunned. How did she know?  He stepped up to Mitzi.  “You’re a faker!  You’re not really blind.”            “HOOPS!” Miss Timmons was shocked. “How can you say such a thing?” There have been fakers here before, and I’m the one who”…….He stopped short when he noticed that Bonnie who was glaring at him. “Never mind,” he said, sitting down.             “For your information, said Mitzi, I am NOT faking.  I can’t see anything with my eyes.  However, I do have excellent hearing.  I heard the smacking noises your mouth was making.  By the way, Hoops, why are you named after a pair of earrings?             The class laughed.             Hoops scowled.  “Not earring hoops.  Basketball hoops.  I’m the best player on the team.”            “Well, it’s a good thing, because you can’t possibly have the best manners on the team!             Several students snickered and a few clapped in appreciation of Mitzi’s last statement.  Hoop’s rudeness could be tiresome.             Janie stood up.  “Hi Mitzi, I’m Janie.  I’m the captain of the cheerleading squad. My hair is brown and I’m about 4 feet and 7 inches tall and I have school spirit.”            Mitzi was interested.  “You have a cheerleading squad in an elementary school?”            “Oh yes!” Janie exclaimed. “This school is run much more like a middle school or high school with great activities.”            “Terrific,” declared Mitzi, “Maybe I’ll join the squad.”            Janie looked blank. “How can you? I mean…”            Mitzi leaned her cane against the desk. “Why not? Who’s next?”            Ramon stood up.  I’m Ramon Rodriquez and this is Stretch.”  He yanked Stretch up out of his chair.  “Stretch is shy because he’s so tall.”            “Aw, Cut it out Ramon, I’m not that tall.” Stretch slid back into his chair and sank down as low as he could, hoping to decrease his height.  He was tallest student in the school, even taller than some of the teachers.             “Nice to meetcha.  Next!”            Marques  was next.  “I love art,” he explained to Mitzi.  He pointed to several detailed sketches that were tacked in various parts of the room. I’ve been drawing since I was little.”  He was suddenly embarrassed when he realized Mitzi couldn’t see them.             “Have you ever tried sculpture?” she asked.  “I can’t see colors to paint or draw, but I love sculpture.             Marques admitted that he had not tried sculpture.             “I’ll give you a lesson sometime,” she promised. “Next!”            Melody Wu enthusiastically described her love of music, and one by one, the rest of the class introduced themselves.             Miss Timmons scanned the room and realized that one of the students was missing.  “Boys and Girls” she interrupted.  Where’s Neville Winningham?  Has anybody seen him?”            As if hearing her question, Neville rushed into the room holding a giant plastic tube filled with sloshing water.  Neville was small for his age.  He was pale with slicked back brown hair.  His glasses were often perched on his head or slipping halfway down his nose.  He was wearing his favorite outfit, an oversized white lab coat and a snap-on bow tie. He frantically yelled, “We’re doomed! This weather data is indisputable!  I predict a rainfall of unprecedented……”            Not seeing Mitzi’s cane leaning against the desk, he tripped over it and was sent sprawling.  The water sailed out of the tube directly into Hoop’s face.  The class laughed, but Hoops was not amused.  Hoops jumped out of his seat, intent on grabbing Neville.             “Class, Class!  Please sit down.  Please calm down.  Class!”  Miss Timmons couldn’t be heard in the din that followed.             Hoops chased Neville around several clusters of desks.  Neville’s glasses were falling off and hanging on one ear as he ducked Hoop’s attempts to catch him.  The rest of the students either cheered as Neville passed by, or howled in pain as their toes were stepped on.  Mitzi couldn’t see what was happening, but she heard the frustration in Miss Timmons’s voice and had a general idea of what was going on.  She took charge by placing her index fingers in the corners of her mouth and emitting a loud shrill whistle.             “Ow!” said Ramon, “That hurt my ears.” The room became quiet, but Neville was still on the run, being pursued by Hoops.             “Boys……Please!” pleaded Miss Smith.                                                                                                          “Don’t worry Miss Timmons, I’ll stop them,” Mitzi called out.  She listened intently to the running feet and estimated how many more seconds until the boys rounded several groups of desks.  She waited until Neville pounded past her, and then quickly stuck her cane out into the aisle.  Hoops tripped over it and landed on the floor with a thud.             “There” said Mitzi, “That should do it.”            Hoops got up and dusted himself off. “Hey! What do you think you’re doing, tripping me like that?  That was dangerous.  I could have gotten hurt!  What if I couldn’t play basketball tomorrow?  Our team would be doomed!”            Mitzi fixed an innocent expression on her face.  “Are you talking to me? I don’t know what you mean.  How could I possibly trip you when I can’t even see you.”  Hoops scowled, too tired to reply.  He sat down.             Miss Timmons said stiffly, “I may be new, but I will not tolerate fighting in the classroom.  The three of you need to have a talk with Mr. Beamer.  He can sort this out.” Quiet giggling could be heard from several classmates as the trio made their way out the door.    Mitzi and Hoops could be heard arguing all of the way down the hallway. French Frye shook his head.             “Told ya,” he announced to nobody in particular.Chapter 1  Hello Mitzi Rain, rain, and more spring rain. It had been pelting and pounding Mortimer Potts Elementary School for days.  “I’m sick of it,” declared Hoops Russell. “I was counting on practicing my hook shot. This indoor recess stinks!” He wadded up a piece of notebook paper and sent it sailing across the room into the trash can.   Marques and Janie ducked as the paper ball sailed over their heads. Bonnie Skinks wheeled herself over to Hoops. “Relax, Hoops. You’re just nervous because the championship basketball game is tomorrow. I just know we’re going to win. Stottlemyer School doesn’t have a team half as good as ours!” She pulled a checkerboard out of a bag suspended from the arm of her purple wheelchair. “Let’s play a game of checkers. That will keep your mind off the game.” “That’s right Hoops, you have nothing to worry about. Our cheerleading squad came up with some great new cheers for the game. We can’t lose!  Do you want to hear one?  GIVE ME AN ‘M,’ GIVE ME AN ‘O,’…,” Janie’s  loud voice rang out enthusiastically before she was cut off by Miss Timmons. “Thank you Janie.  I’m sure everyone would love to hear your cheers, but it would be much better to surprise everyone tomorrow.” This statement resulted in scattered applause from various parts of the room. While Hoops allowed himself to be drawn into a checker game with Bonnie.  Marques continued working on a sketch of Janie’s face.  He was having trouble getting her mouth just right because she kept talking.  “I can’t believe how nice Hoops is to Bonnie. He doesn’t usually like anybody who isn’t athletic.” She said.  Marques nodded thoughtfully. “Hoops has mellowed out since Bonnie joined the class last September. He doesn’t care that she uses a wheelchair to get around.  Maybe he’s changed his ways.”“I hope so,” Janie said. “He used to be pretty mean. “Ha! Hoops has changed?”  Frederick “French Frye slipped into the seat next to Marques.  He had just come from the main office where his sister Myra worked as a student aide.  He liked to make excuses to visit the office during recess time to see if Myra had any new gossip.  Today, he had big news to share. “Hoops is going to have a fit.  We’re getting a new girl in our class and she’s blind!” Marques stopped sketching. “That’s terrible!” said Janie. Marques nodded, adding, “I can’t imagine not being able to see.  How would I draw?” He signed his name at the bottom of Janie’s portrait with a flourish.  It was a rather good likeness, although it looked a bit strange  because Janie’s mouth was open. French looked over at Hoops, playing checkers with Bonnie.  “Yeah, I feel sorry for the new kid.  Hoops can’t think before he speaks.  Remember how he acted the last time a new kid in a wheelchair came to school? I sure hope that Hoops doesn’t give the new kid a hard time.”   The others agreed.  Their conversation was suddenly interrupted by the classroom door suddenly  opening with a crash.             “Head’s up! Look sharp! I like to run over feet,” yelled Mr. Jasper, bumping through the doorway, pushing a cart loaded with a large box and a variety of smaller boxes.  He unloaded the cart and whipped out a box cutter.  “Where do you want the new computer set up, Miss Timmons?”            “Over here on this desk please.” Miss Timmons pointed to the empty student desk next to Hoops.             Hoops was pleased.  It seemed that there was never enough time on the classroom computers.  It seemed like an odd place to put one though.  “Hey Miss Timmons, he called out.  Why are you sticking the computer in the middle of the room instead of on the back wall with the other ones?”            “Oh, that’s not for the class, Hoops, it’s for our new student, Mitzi.  It has a specialized software program loaded in just for her use.”            “Huh?”  Hoops was dumbfounded.  That wasn’t fair.  Why should a new kid get her own computer?  “I object” he said loudly with a scowl. ********             After indoor recess, the class had settled into their afternoon routine of journal writing. The silence was broken by loud talking and footsteps coming from down the hallway. The classroom door opened, revealing Mr. Beamer, the acting principal, and a girl with long dark brown braids, some of which swirled around the top of her head in an elaborate pattern. She was wearing rainbow colored dark glasses and a plaid raincoat. She carefully entered the room, using a long skinny white cane to check for obstacles in her path. She stood quietly while Mr. Beamer whispered to Miss Timmons. He then turned to face the class.             “Ahem.” He cleared his throat. “Class, this is Mitzi Mufflin from Montrose, Maine.             Hoops couldn’t contain himself and sputtered, “Mitzi Mufflin, from Montrose Maine is Matriculating at Mortimer Potts.’            “That will do Mr. Russell,” Mr. Beamer said, frowning.             Hoops slapped his desk in delight. “Wait! I just thought up some more M words.  Mitzi, that Madras Macintosh will prevent Malaise in this May Monsoon.             “MR. RUSSELL!”  Mr. Beamer’s voice rose.             Hoops shook his head sadly.  “I’m sorry Mr. Beamer.  I’m a Miscreant.”            Miss Timmons looked puzzled.  “Hoops, I don’t understand why you flunk every vocabulary test.             Mr. Beamer looked sternly at the class as he put his hand under Mitzi’s elbow and led her to the desk with the new equipment.  The screen reader and headphones would allow Mitzi to hear what was on her computer screen.  Mr. Beamer looked directly at Hoops as he spoke, “I know that EVERYONE will help Mitzi feel welcome.    Goodbye Mitzi.  Let me know if you have any problems.”   He shot one more warning glance at Hoops, and he was gone.             The entire class sat silently, everyone staring at the new girl.             “Well then, said Miss Timmons brightly, “Why don’t we introduce ourselves to Mitzi.”  Hoops wasn’t listening.  He was busy making faces at the new student.             Mitzi suddenly stood up. “Thanks Miss Timmons. Here, have an apple.   No need to be nervous.  Actually, I’m just like the other kids in most ways.  You must be new to the teaching game.”            “Why yes, this is my first teaching assignment.  I took over for Mr. Beamer earlier this year when he became acting principal.  How did you know?”            “Oh, I’m very good at listening for information.  You seem jittery.  Any experienced teacher wouldn’t show they’re nervous.  That’s how they lose control of the class.”            “Is that so?” Miss Timmons was slightly insulted.             “Now everybody, please tell me your name and something about yourself.  It can be what you look like or a favorite hobby.  You see, I’ve got to memorize your voices.  Let’s start with this Hoops person.  The one who’s making faces at me.”            Hoops was stunned. How did she know?  He stepped up to Mitzi.  “You’re a faker!  You’re not really blind.”            “HOOPS!” Miss Timmons was shocked. “How can you say such a thing?” There have been fakers here before, and I’m the one who”…….He stopped short when he noticed that Bonnie who was glaring at him. “Never mind,” he said, sitting down.             “For your information, said Mitzi, I am NOT faking.  I can’t see anything with my eyes.  However, I do have excellent hearing.  I heard the smacking noises your mouth was making.  By the way, Hoops, why are you named after a pair of earrings?             The class laughed.             Hoops scowled.  “Not earring hoops.  Basketball hoops.  I’m the best player on the team.”            “Well, it’s a good thing, because you can’t possibly have the best manners on the team!             Several students snickered and a few clapped in appreciation of Mitzi’s last statement.  Hoop’s rudeness could be tiresome.             Janie stood up.  “Hi Mitzi, I’m Janie.  I’m the captain of the cheerleading squad. My hair is brown and I’m about 4 feet and 7 inches tall and I have school spirit.”            Mitzi was interested.  “You have a cheerleading squad in an elementary school?”            “Oh yes!” Janie exclaimed. “This school is run much more like a middle school or high school with great activities.”            “Terrific,” declared Mitzi, “Maybe I’ll join the squad.”            Janie looked blank. “How can you? I mean…”            Mitzi leaned her cane against the desk. “Why not? Who’s next?”            Ramon stood up.  I’m Ramon Rodriquez and this is Stretch.”  He yanked Stretch up out of his chair.  “Stretch is shy because he’s so tall.”            “Aw, Cut it out Ramon, I’m not that tall.” Stretch slid back into his chair and sank down as low as he could, hoping to decrease his height.  He was tallest student in the school, even taller than some of the teachers.             “Nice to meetcha.  Next!”            Marques  was next.  “I love art,” he explained to Mitzi.  He pointed to several detailed sketches that were tacked in various parts of the room. I’ve been drawing since I was little.”  He was suddenly embarrassed when he realized Mitzi couldn’t see them.             “Have you ever tried sculpture?” she asked.  “I can’t see colors to paint or draw, but I love sculpture.             Marques admitted that he had not tried sculpture.             “I’ll give you a lesson sometime,” she promised. “Next!”            Melody Wu enthusiastically described her love of music, and one by one, the rest of the class introduced themselves.             Miss Timmons scanned the room and realized that one of the students was missing.  “Boys and Girls” she interrupted.  Where’s Neville Winningham?  Has anybody seen him?”            As if hearing her question, Neville rushed into the room holding a giant plastic tube filled with sloshing water.  Neville was small for his age.  He was pale with slicked back brown hair.  His glasses were often perched on his head or slipping halfway down his nose.  He was wearing his favorite outfit, an oversized white lab coat and a snap-on bow tie. He frantically yelled, “We’re doomed! This weather data is indisputable!  I predict a rainfall of unprecedented……”            Not seeing Mitzi’s cane leaning against the desk, he tripped over it and was sent sprawling.  The water sailed out of the tube directly into Hoop’s face.  The class laughed, but Hoops was not amused.  Hoops jumped out of his seat, intent on grabbing Neville.             “Class, Class!  Please sit down.  Please calm down.  Class!”  Miss Timmons couldn’t be heard in the din that followed.             Hoops chased Neville around several clusters of desks.  Neville’s glasses were falling off and hanging on one ear as he ducked Hoop’s attempts to catch him.  The rest of the students either cheered as Neville passed by, or howled in pain as their toes were stepped on.  Mitzi couldn’t see what was happening, but she heard the frustration in Miss Timmons’s voice and had a general idea of what was going on.  She took charge by placing her index fingers in the corners of her mouth and emitting a loud shrill whistle.             “Ow!” said Ramon, “That hurt my ears.” The room became quiet, but Neville was still on the run, being pursued by Hoops.             “Boys……Please!” pleaded Miss Smith.                                                                                                          “Don’t worry Miss Timmons, I’ll stop them,” Mitzi called out.  She listened intently to the running feet and estimated how many more seconds until the boys rounded several groups of desks.  She waited until Neville pounded past her, and then quickly stuck her cane out into the aisle.  Hoops tripped over it and landed on the floor with a thud.             “There” said Mitzi, “That should do it.”            Hoops got up and dusted himself off. “Hey! What do you think you’re doing, tripping me like that?  That was dangerous.  I could have gotten hurt!  What if I couldn’t play basketball tomorrow?  Our team would be doomed!”            Mitzi fixed an innocent expression on her face.  “Are you talking to me? I don’t know what you mean.  How could I possibly trip you when I can’t even see you.”  Hoops scowled, too tired to reply.  He sat down.             Miss Timmons said stiffly, “I may be new, but I will not tolerate fighting in the classroom.  The three of you need to have a talk with Mr. Beamer.  He can sort this out.” Quiet giggling could be heard from several classmates as the trio made their way out the door.    Mitzi and Hoops could be heard arguing all of the way down the hallway. French Frye shook his head.             “Told ya,” he announced to nobody in particular.   




Illustrations by Maria Santucci
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