If Mr. Johnson was nothing like any GT teacher we had had in the past, that didn’t mean he was incompetent. He was just immensely different. Instead of energetic and dynamic, he was calm and patient. Instead of rejecting the local religious atmosphere, he just kept quiet about it. So quiet that none of us knew what beliefs he had, if any. His effeminate nature sent rumors flying about his sexuality, but I couldn’t tell you with certainty which way he swung. Quiet, calm and patient.
Behind his back, the students called him Tommy Teacher. His first name was Lauren, so I have no idea where the origin of this nickname came from. There was a rumor that Mr. Johnson failed a student for calling him Tommy to his face. I don’t think that was true. The student was probably failing in the first place. Not believing the rumor didn’t stop me from calling him Tommy behind his back, though.
The shock of Mr. Johnson’s quiet and patient manner after having such dynamic teachers in the past made me come to the conclusion that he was bored. We had been told that Mr. Johnson gave up his preparation period to teach our class and that he had been teaching GT forever.
Maybe he was tired. I remember being told that teachers were so underpaid that they needed to work several jobs just to make ends meet. Maybe Mr. Johnson had a night job. I remember a rumor of a restaurant that was owned by his “roommate,” but I never put my trust in rumors. I didn’t believe that he was up all night cooking for his boyfriend, but, in retrospect, I’m perfectly willing to believe that he might have been tired.
We were left unsupervised many times, but there was always a teacher’s assistant in the room. The TA for our class had taken GT when he was a sophomore. Now, he was a senior, taking Honor’s English from Mr. Johnson and preparing for the AP Test. Not even that guy called him Tommy to his face.