There was one student—lets call him Gary—that sat near the rear doorway with his grandmother. Now, this kid, a 5-year old, was very smart, but he was just as equally naughty on occasion. He could smile, laugh, and joyously participate in class activities with no problems, then suddenly become very loud, disruptive and an overall nuisance to everyone. To add icing on the cake, he was often extremely clingy, especially with his grandparents, whom, since I had known them, never showed an ounce of firmness in regards to his bad behavior.
So there he was, in the back of the classroom, not playing with other students or entertaining himself with books or toys, but clinging on to his grandmother as she was trying to leave. After a few minutes she managed to do so successfully, and he returned to his seat. No more than 2 minutes Iater, though, I watched him sneak out the rear doorway, run down the hallway, and desperately call for his grandmother, who had already left the building. He nearly made it all the way to the front entrance when I had yelled for him to return to the class.
Nothing to worry about, right? I continued chatting with the manager, prepped some materials, and started class on time about 12 minutes later.
And then it happened. As I was warming up the students, I noticed that Gary was M.I.A—missing in action. Gasp. My heart felt the piercings of a thousand needles all at once. I immediately let my assistant check the restroom. He wasn't there. The nearby classrooms? Nope. In the office? Upstairs? In the playground? Hiding in the cafeteria? No sight of him.
The next step was notifying the teachers and administration in the office, who organized a big search party while I stayed in the classroom with my students. But after a long while, he still wasn't found. "What could have happened to him?", I thought.
Then a message came through. A parent from my class had spoken to my assistant and claimed to have seen a little boy that looked like Gary exit the building, cross the street, and hop on the bus. WHAT THE F@$#! I want to remind you that this kid was only 5 years old!
Time passed, and during that time we began preparations for calling Gary's parents and notifying the local police. We gathered up a description of his clothes and everything.
I felt shattered. I thought about all the horrible things that could happen to this kid, and all of the terrible things that would happen to me if he wasn't safe. I could only pray over and over again that he'd be located and out of harm's way.
And then, another message came through. "We found him. He's ok". Gasp. THANK YOU GOD!
So, what exactly happened? Well, it turns out that the parent that saw Gary was right. He had snuck out of my classroom 10 minutes before class started, slipped passed the school's security doors—they weren't locked—made it outside, hopped on a bus, went all the way home, and upon finding out that both his parents and grandparents weren't there, crashed at his neighbors house, who wound up calling his parents to notify them. I can't make this stuff up.
After class I had a long talk with my manager. He reinstated that everyone, including the parents, knew that my assistant and I were good teachers, and that the entire incident was an unfortunate situation. Nevertheless, we agreed that there were 3 truths: For one, Gary was a very unstable, mischievous, wicked kid that deserved everything coming and—well, you can imagine all that I really want to say.
Two, as teachers, once the students are in the class and their parents have left, it's our responsibility to care for them, period, especially at their age. That means taking all the necessary steps and precautions to ensure that their presence, healthiness, and safety on campus is taken care of to the umpteenth degree.
And three, our school must enforce better security measures to guarantee that this type of incident would never happen again. It was just far too easy for Gary to sneak out of the campus unnoticed.
Over the next few days several things happened. First, both the Chinese and Foreign managers visited Gary's house, gifted him with toys, and made a formal apology to his parents. Second, Gary continued taking classes at our school—he and his parents still loved me as a teacher—and I made a formal apology to them. They did acknowledge that Gary was extremely naughty, but at the same time, they felt that the school was largely at fault for not having appropriate security measures in place that should have prevented him from leaving.
Third, changes were made big and small around campus. In the classroom, I made sure to always keep the rear end door locked and to stand by the front door up until when class started. As for the school, doors were locked, memos went out to parents, signs were placed around campus, and extra staff were used to monitor the hallways during class time.
And lastly, Gary's parents wound up receiving a big discount from the school for all the trouble. And I mean BIG.
It sucks that I had to experience such a soul-crushing ordeal, but I was just elated that Gary was found safe and sound. It was definitely a learning lesson on my part, and I was happy that the school took all the necessary, precautionary measures to make sure it didn't occur again.
In the end, Gary managed to finish out the semester as one of the top students in the class. And you want to know the funny part? His parents had asked if I could continue teaching him at their home once the semester ended. Let's just say that I'll let you guess what I replied.