Many years ago, I had my moment of glory. My first job teaching English, at the age of 50, was at a local school.

On my first day of employment, the principal came to my classroom and told me he was short one physical education teacher.

I was a little confused, wondering why he confided in me – the low person on the totem pole. He went on to say that if each of the women teachers would teach one period of P.E., the problem would be solved.

Somehow I knew I was supposed to volunteer.

Should I tell him I had never taken P.E. and didn’t know a soccer ball from a basketball? Better not.

The other female teachers were very supportive.

“Eighth grade girls know the ropes, and they’ll help you,” they said.

They were obviously puzzled about why I was so ignorant of P.E. It was hard to explain that Catholic schools in Chicago were more interested in the soul than in the body.

I did have a limited amount of athletics in college: horseback riding, in which my horse always wanted to eat grass so I could slide over his head; fencing, in which I nearly got slaughtered; and interpretive dancing – what more can I say?

On the plus side, I knew how to take roll and it was fun to wear shorts and a T-shirt the last period of the day.

The girls did run the show – they knew all the exercises and all the rules of the games. Most of them were nice, helpful girls, but there were – as always – a few rebels.

The rebs were real pills during the pandemonium of the showers. If they could get out of showering, they would sneak around and swipe each other’s panties. I didn’t dare shower. If I tried when they did, the rebels would steal my keys. And I couldn’t shower after they did because they needed supervision.

Guess what I did as soon as I got home from school? Whew!

I learned a lot about P.E. that year. I learned that it is a real subject, with lots of rules, strict grades and as much work as any other class.

The end of the year was my first moment of glory. My P.E. girls all hugged me – even the rebs – and thanked me for my work.

But the best moments of glory were yet to come.

After my retirement, I’d be walking down Broad Street and a young matron would rush up, hug me and say, “Oh, Mrs. Agar, you were the best teacher I ever had.”

Of course, they could have been referring to my Shakespeare class.

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