Chuck Terrill: We got away with murder

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Each year, when the fall school semester starts, I remember.

"Class, I need to run an errand. I will be out of the room for several minutes. While I am gone, I expect you to behave yourselves. You can work on your reading assignment for tomorrow."

With that announcement, our new fifth-grade teacher left the classroom. Such trust! Such innocence! I shot from my desk and peeked down the hall after her. I watched as she disappeared around the corner at the far end of the hall. It was party time!

A guard was quickly appointed to watch for our teacher's return. Then the boys ran around the room and teased the girls, who remained in their seats. Girls always do what they are supposed to do.

But, some of us boys had an eraser fight. We frantically put the erasers back and jumped for our desks when the lookout hissed, "She's coming!"

When our teacher entered the room, we were cherubs, innocent. We were diligent students hard at work. She said nothing when she righted her overturned chair. She did not notice the chalk dust eraser rectangles that peppered the blackboard. She did not say anything!

It really did not surprise me that we got away with it. After all, our teacher was quite old, everybody knew that she was 37.

We got away with murder!

That is what I thought, anyway, until I got the letter.

I got a letter from her, my fifth-grade teacher! Forty years had passed, but she wanted to know if I was the same Chuck Terrill that had been in her class. She wrote that she had enjoyed an article that I had published in a national magazine.

She informed me that she always suspected that I had some leadership (she called it "ringleader") potential.

"Each new school year," she explained, "I always use a little ruse to find out who the troublemakers are in my class. I excuse myself, walk casually down the hall, then dart out the door and make a mad dash to the classroom window. After spying for a few minutes, I know just exactly who to watch out for. That year, it was you."

Man, those fifth-grade teachers are sneaky!

"You can be certain that your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23).


Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 417-847-2460.