By Beth Pugh

The usual brightly lit hallway remained pitch black as every student exited the room. The light from inside slipped through the glass window once the door was shut, throwing shadows of teenage figures against the walls. Being a female dominated class we were anything but quiet as we walked along. Our whispers came out more like chirps despite our best efforts to keep the chatter to a minimum as we strategically took our places. Excitement continued to build as our eyes adjusted to the dark, waiting for the signal.

Thankfully, the wait wasn’t long. Someone yelled action and our planned chaos ensued. High school corridors created for silence and slow steps echoed our squalls as we stampeded through. Behind us ran Ms. Fain. Her usual teaching attire was replaced with head-to-toe camouflage, boots and eye black. After nearly a minute of running down one hallway and up another, the video camera stopped rolling. With that, the first phase of her audition was a wrap and we all returned to the classroom to begin phase two.

The audition was for the ever popular reality show Survivor. Ms. Fain knew she had what it took to be the last man, or woman in her case, standing. She enlisted her best, brightest, and favorite class to assist with her audition. I was beyond thrilled to be a part of it, as was the rest of my AP English class made up of all seniors. Any kind of break from the normal routine was a welcome one, especially one where we could run and scream through the halls without facing punishment.

Phase two was set up as a press conference. Ms. Fain stood behind a podium in the front of the class. We were no longer students sitting before her, but reporters eager to ask our burning questions. She called on one and then another, each question and answer ultimately highlighting her superior survival qualities. The interview was meant to be the nail in the coffin for the judges solidifying her as an obvious choice.

Ms. Fain was unlike any teacher I’d ever met before. While the majority of teachers ate in the lounge or their classrooms, she ate in the cafeteria most days. She stood with the student section instead of in the stands for all sporting events. In fact, her voice could be heard loud and proud leading chants for the Blue Crew during basketball games. Her personality was big, bold and beautiful. No one that walked the halls of Shelby Valley High School could rival her excitement, student or teacher alike. There was no denying she was made for the spotlight.

To all our dismay, Ms. Fain wasn’t chosen for the show. It’s a shame, too. The enthusiasm she lived out daily spread like wildfire, igniting whatever or whoever was in its path. She could have single handedly shot the ratings through the roof.

It’s been going on thirteen years since I last walked through the door of her classroom and the spark she lit then is still starting unquenchable fires within me. Her courage to take a risk despite the probability of failure continues to inspire me to chase after my dreams no matter how improbable and farfetched they may seem. Though she never claimed the title of survivor, her legacy of enthusiasm and courage certainly has survived the test of time.

About this writer

  • Beth Pugh

    Beth Pugh

    Beth Pugh is a wife, mother and daughter striving to live a life of contentment, like baby bear soup. She hopes telling her stories help others to do the same.

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One Response to “Survivor”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Ms. Fain is a teacher who will live on in infamy. The experience will stay with you always. Great story.

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