56: Social Secretary

56: Social Secretary

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales

Social Secretary

Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age.
Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.

~Tom Wilson

In my classroom, I have students as Class Council President, Vice President, and Ambassador. While I complete the morning tasks that frustrate so many teachers, the Class Council members set up the computers, run books to the library, and turn in any notes to the office and the nurse. This leaves me free to quickly handle any paperwork.

Last January, as I was completing my attendance count verification sheet, one of my fourth grade students approached the desk. Only half listening, I heard him ask, “Mrs. Breen? May I change the calendar?”

I glanced at the small daily calendar and noted it showed the third day of the month. I replied rather impatiently, “No, the calendar is correct.”

“But Mrs. Breen, today is the fourth,” Jason insisted. Jason is a very reserved student. He was finally beginning to trust me with his thoughts.

“Honey, the fourth is my husband’s birthday and I’d remember that. It’s tomorrow. Now, have a seat please.” And I returned to my work.

He insisted and I finally looked at the large classroom calendar. I jumped up from my seat and went over to the calendar as if hoping it would change as I watched it. “Oh no! Oh my stars!” burst from me as I realized he was correct.

A horrified “You-forgot-your husband’s-birthday?” statement floated past me from a horrified Jason. He stood looking at me with shock screaming from every pore of his body. With a disgusted and more than a little indignant expression, Jason returned to his desk and began to work on a writing project.

As he was leaving for the afternoon, Jason placed a piece of paper on my desk, gave me a reproachful look, and said not to read it, but to give it to my husband as soon as I got home. The letter read:

Dear Mr. Breen,

I hope you have a delightful dinner tonight. Mrs. Breen COMPLETELY forgot your birthday today until I reminded her of the correct day! She promised she’d take you out for a steak dinner. Happy Birthday.


Properly humbled, I shared the letter with my husband and we went out for dinner. Upon returning, my husband wrote a note back to Jason thanking him for reminding me of his special day.

I thought that was the last of this issue until one day, as I was attempting to get the classroom Valentine’s Day party underway, with twenty excited fourth-graders making suggestions, the phone began to ring. Our school secretary was asking about the student who had written the “birthday note” to my husband. Confused and thrown off balance, I told her it was Jason. She requested he be sent to the office ASAP.

Upon his arrival in the office, Jason was introduced to my husband Bill, who had brought roses for me. They shook hands and Bill thanked Jason for helping me to remember his birthday, and asked him to deliver the flowers to me.

Jason walked into the classroom with that “You’re-going-to-be-so-sorry” look and I knew I had been had by Bill. Jason handed me the flowers and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day. Mr. Breen remembered Valentine’s Day and I didn’t have to tell him.” After laughing and thanking him for the delivery, I mentioned that we were going out for dinner again. “That’s it?!” Jason said very indignantly. “You did that for his birthday.”

I surrendered and am still laughing.

~Ilah Breen

More stories from our partners