The Teacher and the Celebrity

When Rivka the principal phoned Miriam the teacher and asked her to come right away because she had something nice to tell her, Miriam wasn't sure what to think. Maybe our town is having another lovely event for its 60th anniversary, she guessed. Maybe the very rich man is buying us another performance by a famous pop star and inviting the ever-so-eminent personality who'll tell us things we like to hear, as only he knows how. Was there any way Ninette would come? But her dreams were carrying her too far, Miriam felt.

The celebrityration two weeks ago, she recalled, was fabulous but also a little disappointing. Not because of the NIS 50 she paid to get in - she came with her husband and two children - but because the show was in a way detached from their town and could have been held in Caesarea or anywhere else. The stadium was full, the program was full, but there was an empty feeling. What a pity a few local talents weren't allowed to take the stage; even among her own students over the years some could have warmed her heart as a warm-up band. That's what happens when VIPs from the outside buy us presents that aren't quite right and there's no way to exchange them, she concluded.

Miriam the teacher knocks on the door, her heart thumping. Sit, says Rivka the principal. You won't believe it, she says. You won't believe what's going to happen at our school in 10 days. They called from the Education Ministry - from the minister's office itself - to tell me that on the first day of school we're getting a visit from - the principal whispers the name into the teacher's ear. Miriam is out of her mind with excitement. She can't believe it's happening to her, immediately thinking of the autograph she could get from the celebrity, maybe even a personal dedication to her two children.

For now, this is just between you and me, the principal says. I don't want the others to start asking questions like "Why her class? Why Miriam and not me?"

They part with a conspiratorial hug. On the way home, Miriam realizes she hasn't asked all the necessary questions, but there's still time. Would the celebrity be there for only an hour, a whole school day, or as a volunteer for a whole year? And what would the celebrity teach her students? She still remembers how the annual school trip was postponed because of the final episode of "Big Brother." Again, she feels a slight pang of disappointment. Apparently I'm not good enough anymore to start the school year on my own. Is that guest-for-a-moment a better educational model than me? she asks herself, and answers. True, I'm not a hot shot, I don't appear on TV, and I don't earn as much as the celebrity, who makes 10 or 20 times more than me.

She's already not entirely sure she'll feel good when the celebrity speaks about how to succeed in life, and she'll be standing in the corner, excited but also a little embarrassed. And when the celebrity goes, she'll still be there with her 40 students, and as a teacher for life, for her whole life. Once again she won't know what to do with the gift the minister has given her.