By Maya Pottiger
When Kathleen Plitt returned from winter break, there was a book on her desk titled “How to be a Mean Teacher (Without Really Trying!).”
It was written by two of her sixth-grade students, who dedicated it to her.
“I like Mrs. Plitt. She’s my favorite teacher that I have every day,” said Jeanine Rangel, who authored the book. “I thought it would be an interesting concept. Think like a teacher: how would I want to be mean?”
After she wrote the book, Jeanine turned to her friend Anna DuPont for illustrations.
“Sometimes I found it hard to draw the pictures because I just had to keep reading the book over and over again trying to decide, ‘What am I going to draw for this page?’” Anna said. “I would read the pages and take the writing and put it into pictures. I would take another piece of paper and write what I could draw for each page.”
The idea was inspired by a worksheet Plitt distributed during one of her math classes. Her students were learning how to calculate percentages, and one example was calculating the sales tax on a book called “How to be a Mean Teacher.”
“I’ve seen so many stories on the internet, and I’ve had a few mean teachers,” Jeanine said. “I thought, ‘This should be easy.’”
Jeanine described the book as “sarcastic,” saying she prefers fiction writing because it’s more interesting. Plitt said Jeanine’s voice shines through the writing, and Anna’s pictures really capture the spirit of the book.
“My brother draws a lot, too. Sometimes we’ll challenge each other,” Anna said. “One of my parents will be talking about something, and I’ll be like, ‘I can draw that. [Let’s] draw this, and we’ll see which one’s better.’”
When she first read the book, Plitt said she laughed until tears rolled down her face.
“I was thrilled that they took the time to write it,” Plitt said. “I read it to every one of my classes.”
Jeanine and Anna said their classmates were worried the book gave Plitt some ideas.
“Here’s what I’m going to do,” Plitt said. “There’s 10 tips. I’m going to take two dice and roll them together, and whatever number is what mean thing I have to do that day.”