Most of us teachers face unexplainable challenges. Some of these are difficult to explain. Even though lots of people reading an article from a teacher would expect something academic or ‘inspiring’, I’m afraid this might not be exactly what you expect because I have a different story; a personal story of a weakness, which I am here to share. When I mentioned challenges, I did not mean a shortage of chalk in the classroom or unpaid salaries by the government, but one I find difficult to talk about on a normal day.
I am a teacher at a girls’ Senior High School in the Central Region. In fact, I have been teaching here for six years. I am a professional and do not want to take my students and their parents who invest so much in their education for granted. Fortunately, this positive mindset earned me the trust of the school authorities and I was made Guidance and Counselling Coordinator of the school.
I find so much joy in teaching and counselling that I sometimes believe I may not excel in any other profession because teaching that is what I find real fulfilment in. As the counselling coordinator, I helped students solve their problems, and I developed the patience to see them grow out of their hitches. At least that is what teaching Mathematics has taught me; to be patient and help people find solutions even to the most complicated problems. I am unmarried, and my last relationship ended two years ago because I could not give my ex the needed time and attention.
Amidst all this, I am not a saint. I have blood running through my veins and I have desires, desires I have less control over. One of the students, who was Girls’ Prefect last year was a good mathematics student who loved spending after school hours with me, in my office. I taught, counselled and joked with her on so many occasions. I was proud of her because I knew she had potential of making the best grade in maths that year, which would make me a proud teacher. Veronica was light-skinned with a figure most Ghanaian men would call ‘body’. Some of the other male teachers who made advances towards her, envied my friendship with her and I always made it a point to clarify that there was nothing going on between us. I did my best to protect her from the ‘evil eyes’ of some male teachers. She was innocent, and I did not want to be caught in an uncomfortable position.
One Saturday everything, everything turned around for me. My colleague, Fred who was the teacher responsible for entertainment invited me to go with him to campus to make sure the students’ entertainment programme was successful and ‘drama-free’. During the entertainment period, the students were having so much fun, so I thought it would be a good time to finish up some work in my office. In about three minutes after I entered the office, I heard a knock on the door, with the door opening almost immediately. It was my Veronica (as I had started calling her). She saw me leaving the Entertainment Hall to my office. Surprised to see me on campus at that time, she passed by to find out if everything was okay.
We talked about lots of subjects including the courses she could explore at the university. I so much wanted to see the brilliant, attractive young woman I had gotten close to, become successful. We had our own version of entertainment because we shared jokes and laughed so hard. Meanwhile the other students were still enjoying their variety show as they were given the opportunity that weekend to invite students from a sister school. After we laughed over a joke she made about one of her colleagues, the room slowly went quiet. And for a moment there was an awkward silence. In a very unusual manner, my heart started beating fast. I was uncomfortable and looked up only to see Veronica staring straight at me. I always admired her eyes and smile in secret. To be honest, for a very long time I silently battled between being a professional and my occasional desires to make her my woman. Our eyes were fixated on each other, and suddenly, I lost control. Veronica was seated next to me, so I touched her revealing thigh. She did not look surprised nor try to resist my attempt to get closely. Slowly, what I tried to avoid with mind, body and soul for two years happened. I had sex with my student.
Moments after the act, all I felt was guilt while Veronica on the other hand looked embarrassed and uneasy. We did not realise that it was past entertainment hours and almost all the students had gone back to their dormitories. Not looking back, Veronica walked straight out of the office.
I wanted to apologise, tell her what she could do to prevent a pregnancy and all the million things that kept running through my mind, but every part of my body was numb, and I just watched her leave.
Next Monday, I made up an excuse to the headmaster and stayed away from school the whole week. When I resumed, I make up another excuse and gave up the position of guidance and counselling coordinator. My conscience kept hurting me like a dagger pierced through my body.
As for my escapade with Veronica, I promised myself never to get close to her or any other student for that matter. I just had to get through a painful two months of avoiding Veronica before her final exams.
And since I do not have her ‘military officer father’ coming after me months after she completed school, I assume she did not get pregnant. When it happened, I realised I was more scared of a pregnancy than a Sexually Transmitted Infection (I know it sounds crazy, but that is true).
The unintended consequence of getting close to one my students taught me a lesson the hard way. This is what a good number of male teachers battle daily. At least I have decided to share my story to caution my other colleagues who are likely to fall in the same situation. I could have gotten myself in bigger trouble. I regret getting ‘close’ to my student.
Till date, I dread the day I will meet Veronica on the streets of Cape Coast.