When I first started teaching, teacher salaries  barely covered the bills. I guess that is one thing that hasn't changed much in the last thirty years. Since my husband was working on his Master of Public Administration degree at N.C. State after we first got married, I would always try to find a job during the summer to supplement our income.

One summer, I remember getting a job as the Art Director  at a local day camp. The Nature Director was also a relatively new teacher who worked in the same school I did and asked if he could borrow my classroom terrarium to use for the summer. It was housed in an old aquarium and it really looked great. I had spent a lot of time and effort on it collecting various plants and I was very proud of it. He promised to treat it with care and return it to me in good condition.

Before I knew it, camp was over and  it was time for another new school year to begin. I retreived my  terrarium from the science director and took it back to school where it had a place of honor in my science center. My assistant at that time was a middle aged woman who was extremely overweight. She was also one of the sweetest, most child oriented people I had ever met. She was very efficient and dependable and I really enjoyed working with her. 

One morning, as I was up at the board teaching math, my assistant was diligently watering the plants  in the terrarium with her green plastic watering can. All of a sudden, she let out a blood curdling scream, threw her plastic watering can straight up in the air, and ran out the door screaming "snaaaaaaaaakeeeeeeeeeeeeee"!!! A few children unlucky enough to be sitting nearby got a second morning shower. Her screams immediately threw the children into a panic and they started screaming too. Once I had  finally picked my jaw up off the floor, I calmed the children down and  lined them up single file to herd them out the door. I found my assistant cowering outside in the hall. She started waving her arms frantically saying that there was a snake in the terrarium and that she was terrified of snakes. Sure enough, when I went back in the classroom and looked, a baby snake was meandering around the plants spitting its baby tongue out at me.  It turns out that my dingy nature friend had kept snakes in my terrarium during camp unbeknown to me.  Not only did he forget to mention that minor little detail, one of them laid some  eggs. It seems that one  had hatched over the  long labor day weekend and my assistant saw it poke its little head up at her when she stuck her hand in to water the plants.

I pushed the intercom button to ask for the custodian to come and help me asap. He was built like a lumberjack and I figured he could take care of the problem pronto. When he arrived and heard what had happened, he got a funny look on his face. He went into the classroom carrying a broom  slowly easing his way up to the terrarium in a crouched position. I am still not sure what exactly he planned to do with the broom but whatever it was, it went the way of the watering can. as soon as he saw the snake. I thought my assistant had run fast but when the he got a look at the snake, he threw the broom to the side and took off running too. He evidently was as scared of snakes as she was. I ended up having to pick up the  terrarium  and  take it outside to dump everything out of it. I figured it wouldn't be worth taking a chance on any more little friends  popping up unexpectedly. Besides, I wanted my assistant to keep working with me and she said it was either her or the terrarium. I didn't have to think twice about that!

The picture below was taken that summer when we had an "art show" for the parents at camp at the end of the six weeks. Little did I know what would be coming back to school with me in the fall.

Epilogue: I think my nature director finished a new terrarium for me around November. You didn't think I was going to let him get by without replacing it, did you? See what you are missing by not teaching kindergarten!

66 comments

  1. The Girl Next Door Grows Up // April 18, 2010 at 8:33 PM  

    WHat a cool blog. I am following you now. Love the alliteration post below!

  2. Alicia // April 18, 2010 at 8:54 PM  

    Haha! I can picture that well. That's about the reaction I got from the custodians when we found a bat hanging from the library ceiling.

  3. VKT // April 18, 2010 at 9:06 PM  

    Thanks Girl Next Door! Have a great week.

  4. VKT // April 18, 2010 at 9:06 PM  

    OMG Alicia....I would have reacted that way to bats myself!!!

  5. Debbie // April 18, 2010 at 9:10 PM  

    I think I would have had the same reaction!~ Even for spiders, it was funny, I had a vision of the entire story!~

  6. Ms. Anthropy // April 18, 2010 at 9:14 PM  

    That made for an exciting day!

  7. Khrys { Mom of 3 Dolls } // April 18, 2010 at 9:32 PM  

    Thank you for stopping by. The kids had a great time playing outside this weekend. I, on the other hand, was working but I had a great night and was able to sleep during the days.

    Great stories...I played with gardener snakes when I was little but all my kids aren't into that stuff. No bugs for them. They're even scared of ladybugs :(

  8. Robin // April 18, 2010 at 10:14 PM  

    There is no middle ground about snakes. People either love them or are terrefied. That was really terrible that the nature guy wasn't honest with you, but I am glad you made him replace everything. Very funny. I could totally see that watering can going up, up, and away.

  9. Adrienne // April 18, 2010 at 10:53 PM  

    I hate me some snakes...ewwwe and spiders and pretty much all bugs...lol

  10. purseblogger // April 18, 2010 at 11:01 PM  

    I would have done the same thing! Yikes!

  11. Together We Save // April 18, 2010 at 11:43 PM  

    Oh my!! I hate snakes!!

  12. Sienna // April 18, 2010 at 11:51 PM  

    That is disgusting... I also hate snakes. A teacher I knew had a snake as a classroom pet and it got out once and wandered the walls of the school for a few weeks. EWE!
    BTW, I gave you an award on my blog, come by and pick it up ☺

  13. Marla // April 19, 2010 at 12:00 AM  

    Love this post. I could just see them running from the room screaming. Too funny!

  14. Bernie // April 19, 2010 at 1:50 AM  

    I don't like snakes but I burst out laughing at that big man carrying a broom then running off, don't know why but it did strike me so funny........;-) Hugs

  15. InspiredGifts.com // April 19, 2010 at 2:30 AM  

    Hi! Thanks for stopping by our blog. We hope you had a great weekend and we are your newest followers.

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  16. Holly // April 19, 2010 at 2:57 AM  

    Thanks fro stopping by 504 Main. I will happily follow you..hope to see you at my place soon.

    I think I would have ran really fast if I saw a snake. After just volunteering in my sons kindergarten class, I can only imagine the stories you have!

    Holly
    504 Main

  17. Choices // April 19, 2010 at 9:09 AM  

    I am not a lover of snakes either. That is one pet, I wouldn't want in a classroom. I can just imagine the reaction of the children and I am sure they remember the snake in their kindergarten class to this day.
    Have a wonderful day.

  18. Sue // April 19, 2010 at 9:26 AM  

    Very funny story! I can't believe he had snakes in there and neglected to tell you that!

    Your poor assistant & the janitor had quite a shock.

    Glad he replaced the terrarium! Thanks for sharing♥

  19. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 9:30 AM  

    Debbie,

    After all these years, I do too. I have to confess that I had to go in the bathroom and laugh so I wouldn't hurt my assistant's feelings. I laughed until I cried after it was all over. I know that is mean, but I couldn't help it.

  20. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 9:30 AM  

    Ms. A,

    It was a tad bit more exciting than normal...lol

  21. T.J. // April 19, 2010 at 9:42 AM  

    it's always in the classroom setting that these strange animal sighting occur!! Snakes, bats... I even heard of a random stray cat story. What teachers endure ;)

    I never had a snake in my classroom, but we did have a pet turtle (Franklin of course) who had free range of the room when we were in it. Occasionally he'd sneak next door or be found headed to the caf!

  22. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 9:48 AM  

    Khyrs,

    I am so glad you got some rest. You were braver than I! I never played with any snakes when I was little. I wasn't afraid to pick the terrarium up to bring it outside....much!

  23. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 9:49 AM  

    Robin,

    After it was all over, I would just picture it in my mind for days and start laughing.

  24. Robyn Jones // April 19, 2010 at 10:45 AM  

    I think it is very unfortunate teachers aren't paid better...When one of my girls was in grade 7 , her teacher had to supplement herself working in a car wash.... :( I have an award for you, if you would like it!

  25. Aging Mommy // April 19, 2010 at 10:57 AM  

    This is so funny - especially the big guy approaching to deal with the situation with such trepidation.

  26. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 11:19 AM  

    Adrienne,

    I don't like snakes either.....bugs don't bother me that much ...unless they sting....ewwwwwww

  27. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 11:20 AM  

    Lol purseblogger. That terrarium was so darn heavy. I had to pick that thing up and lug it outside, hoping that baby didn't get out. As soon as I got it outside, I dropped it, turned it over, and ran.

  28. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 11:21 AM  

    Together We Save,

    Then we have something in common!

  29. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 11:21 AM  

    Why thank you Sienna. That is really sweet of you.

  30. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 11:22 AM  

    Marla,

    I laughed until I cried when I got home, and every time I thought about it afterward.

  31. Kim // April 19, 2010 at 11:36 AM  

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. You have a great blog here! I am your newest follower! Have a great Monday!

  32. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 11:41 AM  

    Robyn,

    The benefit for me is that I love the job. I would rather be working at something I really enjoy versus a higher paid job that I didn't. Thanks so much for the award. I will try to check it out after school. Blessings

  33. teacherwoman // April 19, 2010 at 12:25 PM  

    I hate snakes too... yuck!

  34. Suzi // April 19, 2010 at 12:41 PM  

    Happy (but very late) Friday Follow!

    www.confessionsofafitnessinstructor.com

  35. Shell // April 19, 2010 at 1:43 PM  

    How funny! I would have screamed, too!

  36. jayayceeblog // April 19, 2010 at 2:40 PM  

    I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I probably would have beat your assistant out the door and run over a few kids in the process. I am terrified of snakes - doesn't matter how little they are! It's nice that you eventually got a replacement terrarium.

  37. Gina F // April 19, 2010 at 2:56 PM  

    Too Funny! I hate snakes. I know I would of threw up the broom and watering can also. I think more than that would of went up in the air. HAVE A NICE MONDAY!!!

    Gina
    motherof1princessand2princes.blogspot.com

  38. Marice // April 19, 2010 at 3:54 PM  

    thanks for the visit! following u now! Feel free to visit me here:
    Life Can't Wait and Up Now and What's Next

  39. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 4:11 PM  

    I did too Bernie....that night I went home and laughed until my sides hurt!

  40. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 4:12 PM  

    Me too teacherwoman!!

  41. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 4:12 PM  

    Thanks so much inspired gifts. I really appreciate it!

  42. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 4:14 PM  

    Holly,

    I couldn't figure out what was going on at first....she just shrieked and ran out...lol. Nobody else would pick the darn terrarium up so I had no choice.

  43. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 4:19 PM  

    Anne,

    The only pet I have these days are electric fish that bump around in water due to magnets.

  44. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 4:20 PM  

    Sue,

    I had a few choice words for him afterward. I can't believe he did it either.

  45. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 4:43 PM  

    T.J.,

    Thats so cute. Now, I wouldn't mind having a turtle. Thanks for commenting!

  46. Theresa Milstein // April 19, 2010 at 6:06 PM  

    What a crazy story! This is why I don't want to teach younger grades. I don't do well with things that slither and crawl, so I wouldn't be happy about the animals I would have to keep in my classroom.

    I don't know how I'd handle a snake, but probably like your assistant and the custodian!

  47. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 6:22 PM  

    Robyn,

    I prefer after school art classes, summer school, camps, etc. when I needed to earn extra income because I just like working with children. Good for her for finding something else though.

  48. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 6:23 PM  

    Aging Mommy,

    It really was funny. I was really surprised because of his size. I guess anybody can be afraid of snakes.

  49. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 6:24 PM  

    Thanks Kim. I look forward to visiting yours as well.

  50. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 6:25 PM  

    Teacherwoman.....you and me both. Unfortunately, nobody else wanted to pick that terrarium up...sooooooo!

  51. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 6:26 PM  

    Thanks Suzi!

  52. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 6:27 PM  

    Lol Shell,

    For a minute, I was dumbstruck. I had no idea where the snake was so all I could do was tell them to get in line and get out.

  53. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 6:28 PM  

    Jayay,

    You are too funny. lol

  54. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 6:28 PM  

    Thanks Gina,


    You too. lol

  55. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 6:29 PM  

    Following you back Maurice! Thanks!

  56. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 6:31 PM  

    Theresa,

    The only "animal" in my classroom now is a set of electric fish in water. They float around and bump each other because they are magnetized....lol They are a cinch to take care of too...

  57. Karin Katherine // April 19, 2010 at 6:41 PM  

    That is a great story! You have a way with story telling.

  58. VKT // April 19, 2010 at 7:34 PM  

    Thanks Karin Katherine!

  59. Crystal // April 19, 2010 at 8:32 PM  

    I just love your posts!! I could go on and on about how irritated I get at the celebrities making mils and the real people in the world that truly make the difference making a weee small salary - it's nuts!

  60. Bits-n-Pieces // April 20, 2010 at 12:12 AM  

    We had a snake come up the through one of the bathroom drains in one of our 2nd grade rooms last week. She was calm..I woulda reacted just like your assistant did!!!

  61. Traci // April 20, 2010 at 10:55 AM  

    Oh my goodness! My son is a kindergartner and all I can say is AAAAHH! Though he would probably love the snake. You are way braver and more together than I!

    Have a great week (and keep sharing these stories)>
    :-)
    Traci

  62. VKT // April 21, 2010 at 7:31 PM  

    Awwwww thanks Crystal, you are so sweet!

  63. VKT // April 21, 2010 at 7:32 PM  

    Bits and Pieces.....now if one had come up through the bathroom drain, I would have reacted the same way.

  64. VKT // April 21, 2010 at 7:33 PM  

    Lol Traci,

    I was afraid I would get in trouble with the Principal...who was off campus at the time....I wanted it gone

  65. Annesphamily // April 22, 2010 at 10:11 PM  

    These school stories are so great! I am glad you stopped by my blog! I just stopped by here to read and ended up joining you! Great stories! Keep writing! Hugs Anne

  66. VKT // April 23, 2010 at 11:45 PM  

    Thanks Anne!

    I really appreciate it!