Disclaimer – I do not own the worst of the Herdman, nor do I own the best of the Herdman. It's a joke! Read the books The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Best School Year Ever and The Best Halloween Ever.

Tutoring a Herdman

Where did this whole thing start? I had to think very hard about this because, unlike all the other events with the Herdman, one can actually place where things started. But this time, it was harder to try to figure out where everything actually started. I mean, it is very simple to say that Ralph, Imogene, Ollie, Leroy, Claude and Gladys were trouble walking on two feet. But defiantly, it had to have started somewhere.

I guess that the place it started was when the sixth grade teacher up and moved the year I started fifth grade with their entire family. One might think that there is no big deal for someone who is in the fifth grade, but I tell you it was a big deal, considering that the new teacher just moved to town and didn't know about the Herdman. So, she wasn't expecting the oldest Herdman in her class.

Of course, I don't blame the first teacher for running away when they did. That was the one class that had been Herdman free in the entire history of our school. The thought of the Herdman was enough to drive anyone insane and want to get out of there before the whole thing went all wrong, as it always would. However to push this on to someone else was wrong.

So, before she had started class, Mrs. Tadlem had heard about how bad the Herdman were. She had also heard that they were passed because no one wanted to deal with them. She also heard how the Kindergarten teacher had gone out and gotten drunk because she was going to have no Herdman in her class that year. One had to say she deserved it, after having had six years of Herdman.

The first thing the Herdman did when the Tadlems moved to our town was greet them the only way the Herdman could… they stole their mailbox… and so the mailman said he had to go and deliver their mail by hand. Mr. Tadlem had asked what had happened to their mailbox and the mailman had to tell them it was the Herdman. Which it was, because who else would steal anything in the town?

Also, Ms. Tadlem had been left a special gift in her desk drawer. Apparently the Herdman had thought it was a good idea to leave a snake in her drawer, so one the first day they had expected her to open it and freak out so that Ralph could go and say that it was just a little grader snake. Instead she had done the unexpected; she picked it up and showed the class the snake. The girls were screaming their heads off. "Whose idea was it to put our friend here in the drawer?"

As I heard, all kids turned their heads towards Ralph, who just shrugged his shoulders, not admitting he had or hadn't done anything. However, the teacher knew and gave him a detention. She actually gave Ralph a lot of detention, but he never showed up for it. Yet she kept giving him the pink slips… of course, the first two were warnings, as with all of us… but still, no one gave a Herdman detention because they knew that they would never show up.

A lot of things happened this past school year, that was for sure. But everyone who knew the Herdman expected it. Everyone was also excited, because once Ralph graduated elementary school; there would be one less Herdman next year, as he would be going to the junior-high. But really, none of us could expect that something would have worked out differently. I guess the thing that should have really told me that something was amiss was right after school ended on the last day that I heard Ralph arguing with Mrs. Tadlem and walked on by, not thinking anything about it.


On the last day of school, every single sixth grader was looking forward to the packet that they would be given explaining what options they had at the junior high, though there were only a few in comparison to high school. The old teacher would just hand out the packets to those in the sixth grade class right before the bell ring, but this year was different. This year the new teacher had a stack of papers on her desk and told them not to leave when the bell rang, but instead wait until she called their names.

When the bell rang, she called the students one by one and they left through the door, hurrying to go and show their parents their packets and discuss their options for classes the next year. Mrs. Tadlem called them one at a time and finally they were all gone, except on Ralph Herdman. There were also no packets on the desk left, which made him fidget in his desk.

"Ralph, we need to talk," was the only thing she said.

"About what! It's rather obvious that you're not going to let me go onto seventh grade!" Ralph commented, glaring at her.

"It's not that I don't want to. I would love for you to have gone on with the rest of your class," she said, shaking her head.

"Yeah right!" Ralph suddenly yelled. "I know I'm dumb, but I'm not that dumb!"

"Now, explain to me what that's supposed to mean," the teacher said. She watched as Ralph stormed up to her desk and got almost into her face.

"The real reason is you're mad about all the things done this year! I mean everyone gets mad at us!"

"There is no need to yell. Ralph… junior high isn't like elementary school. It's a lot harder, and you won't have the rest of your family there to support you..." Mrs. Tadlem suddenly let out a small cough. "… like they do."

"They always pass us, no matter how bad out grades are!" Ralph snapped at her.

"And because of that they've done you yet another injustice! You read on a first or second grade level. You can't do basic math. You have problems turning in homework… in fact; you've turned in the homework roughly between zero to five percent of the time and have flunked all my tests! You truancy is horrible…"

"I want to go onto the seventh grade!" Ralph said, still yelling.

"Ralph… not this school year! Maybe the one after that one, but not this one! If I were to let you, you would be left even further behind. Oh, and your not dumb… no one has given you the chance is all,"

"I want…"

"As I said, not this year. If you want to go next year, I need you to show major improvements! No more not turning in assignments, no more truancy. And…" she paused for a few seconds. "I am wanting you to get tutoring with your reading from another student."

"No! No! No!" Ralph said, anger in his voice. "There isn't anyone who would ever do something like that for us… not unless you offered that stupid special credit, which you don't ever do, and then they won't ever still do it."

With that he stormed out of the room, bumping into Beth Bradley as he stormed out of the room. She was on her way out, leaving the school. She didn't seemed that surprised and continued on her way, not having heard any of the conversation.

Author's note – The year that the first book was published was the 1970's. Since then, 'exceptional education', aka, gifted and special needs education has changed drastically. I'm writing this as if they are a bit behind in the times, and it is finally catching up to them.