The Phantom Student

Dear Phantom Student,

Your name has appeared on my roster every semester for the last two years – yet, we’ve never met. I call your name daily to no avail. Before class ends, while the rest of the class is packing up, I try calling for you again. And because I really care, I’ll throw out three or four pronunciations, and then apologize if I’ve completely bungled your name. So far, you haven’t responded to a single version.

I’ve assigned you to a group and scheduled a date for your presentation. Your group grumbles their dissatisfaction. Who can blame them? They don’t want to get stuck writing your section of the paper. As the weeks pass, I check with the Registrar, assuming that a “W” will magically materialize by your name and release me from my quest. But no! You’re still enrolled and I refuse to give up.

My attempts at human contact escalate. I send a friendly note to your school email and then I try your personal mail which leaves me wondering how you came up with partykidz@gmail. Then I call your home and leave a bunch of messages. I’m sorry if your parents think I’m a stalker.

Not to be discouraged, I make earnest inquiries across campus. My colleagues are perplexed.  “Do you recognize this name? Have you ever had this kid?” Your name becomes legendary. Like an urban myth, it gets whispered by teachers trying to place a name with a face. “I feel like I’ve seen that name before.”

As the days creep by, the inevitable occurs as the attendance roster is replaced by the grade roster. My choices are limited and I feel like I’ve failed. Except for one thing – the F isn’t for me, but it’s also not for you. You haven’t even tried yet.

So next semester, let’s get this right. Come see me on the first day of class and we’ll take it from there.

Sincerely,

Your Very Real Teacher