This is a fill for the following prompt at LJ's st_xi_kink_meme:
My friend and I noticed that Kirk gives a lot of cheesy motivational speeches about "BEING THE BEST YOU CAN BE" and whatnot. We decided that he would make a great kindergarten teacher. So...Requesting AU where Kirk is a kindergarten teacher.
Title: The Basics of Primary Ed.
Disclaimer: Yeah, I wish.
Summary: AU – Jim Kirk is a kindergarten teacher. Leonard is the skeptical parent.
Note: Poem excerpt is courtesy of the great Dr. Seuss
Leonard eyed the child sitting next to him as he waited to speak with the principal. The boy's feet swung a good six inches over the floor, but that was where the cute ended and the surly began. His arms were crossed tightly over his chest and his face was scrunched into a scowl that rivaled Leonard's.
"So, kid…what're you in for?" Leonard asked.
"Fighting? How old are you? Why were you fighting?"
"I'm eight, and a stupid dummy called me cupcake and ripped up my picture," he grumbled.
"Hmm…" Leonard said seriously. "Is he going to call you cupcake again?" The boy looked up at him and smiled. Leonard checked his own reflexive smile. Even surly, missing two front teeth is cute.
"Mr. McCoy, the principal will see you now," one of the women at the front desk called to him. Leonard stood.
"Good luck, kid."
"Are you in trouble too mister?" Leonard stopped and considered it.
"Maybe," he replied. The boy smiled again.
"Don't worry about it…Ms. Uhura pretends she's mean, but she's really nice."
"I'll keep that in mind," Leonard replied. He followed the secretary down the hall in the administrative offices of McKinley Elementary School.
The reached the principal's office and the secretary rapped on the door, pushing it open. "Ms. Uhura, Mr. McCoy," she introduced.
Principal Uhura stood as Leonard entered, coming around her desk to shake his hand. She looked a little too young and fresh-faced to be a principal, but a quick look at the walls of her office did a lot to reassure. A Communications Bachelor's, a Masters of Arts in Primary Education, a second Master's in Educational Administration and several certifications…the paperwork looked like she knew what she was doing. That however, remained to be seen.
"Mr. McCoy, it's a pleasure to meet you. Please, take a seat." Leonard sat in one of the guest chairs, and instead of taking the seat behind her desk, she sat in the other chair, turning it slightly so they were facing each other at angles.
"So, what can I do for you?"
"Ms. Uhura, as you know, my daughter will be starting here in a few days, and when we received her class information, I must admit I was…concerned." Leonard paused, not wanting this meeting to go badly. This was the best school in the area.
"Go on," she said, nodding.
"I want my daughter to have a different teacher." The principal was quiet for a moment, studying him. He held her eye unwaveringly.
"Mr. McCoy, we don't…" and he could hear the "no" before she got any further.
"Ms. Uhura, it's Dr. McCoy, and this is not up for discussion," he said, using his most authoritative voice. "I don't want to, but I will pull her, and her tuition fees, and let my colleagues know at San Fran Gen that they may want to continue interviewing schools."
Uhura narrowed her eyes slightly, and suddenly she didn't seem quite as young and fresh-faced. She also wasn't reacting the way his interns did when he used that voice with them. I may have misjudged this woman, he thought to himself.
"Dr. McCoy," she said, in the voice she generally reserved for recalcitrant students. "May I ask why you want a different teacher for your child?" And yes, he'd been expecting this question. And he was very firm in his belief that he was right. But, he knew how this was going to sound.
"I'm not comfortable with the thought of my daughter in Mr. Kirk's class," he said, meaning clear.
"Excuse me for a moment Doctor," she said, rising. He followed her with his eyes as she walked to the other side of the room, going first to one file cabinet and then the other, pulling one folder from each. Returning to her seat, she opened one of them.
"Let's see here," she said turning a few pages. "Oh, yes. Exhibits difficulty maintaining eye contact with peers; selects individual activities during free play time; speaks in consistently low tones or not at all--" Leonard recognized what she was reading.
"I realize Jo has an introverted personality--" Uhura ignored him and flipped a page, continuing to read as if she was never interrupted.
"Highly imaginative and artistically expressive. Reading comprehension two levels above age standards; displays an advanced comprehension of spatial relationships and mathematical concepts…"
"Ms. Uhura, I don't need to review Joanna's educational benchmarks," Leonard started. But again, she ignored him as she set Joanna's folder aside and opened the other one.
"Undergraduate degrees in General Psychology and Elementary Education. Master's Degree in Primary Educational Development, with a focus on psychological development, certification to teach students with exceptionalities, developed the Education of the Gifted Child teacher education program at the Teacher's College within the University of California…"
"That is the kind of teacher Joanna should have. Not some guy who…"
"Dr. McCoy," Uhura said sharply. Leonard clenched his jaw at being interrupted for the third time. "Have you met Mr. Kirk?" Drawing on every reserve of southern gentlemanliness he had, he forced himself to answer levelly.
"Have you taken the opportunity to observe him while class is in session?"
"Dr. McCoy," and now her voice was gentler. "Did you ever have a male elementary school teacher?"
"Me? No, I didn't." Uhura nodded.
"Things are different now. More men are teaching elementary and middle school… almost as many as in the high schools. All of our teachers are thoroughly vetted with background checks, psychological clearances, and unannounced observations every quarter." Uhura sat back in her chair, closing the folder she'd been reading from and holding it up. "These qualifications do belong to your daughter's teacher. They belong to Mr. Kirk."
Leonard remained quiet as she checked her watch. "School will be over in about 25 minutes. Why don't we walk down to his room, and then you and he can meet for a while. Do you have time for that?"
And how could he say no? He still thought he would prefer his little girl with a different teacher, but what harm could come from taking her up on her offer.
* * *
"Okay guys!" Jim called as free play ended. He clapped his hands five times in a rhythmic pattern and the kids echoed it with their own surprisingly on beat claps. The noise in the room quieted and all fourteen of them turned to look at him. "Good job everyone! Free play is over…are you ready for…"
"THE CLEAN-UP SONG!" the kids yelled. Jim beamed as they started singing.
"Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up!
We had fun but the time has come
For everyone to clean up, clean up, everybody clean up!
We had fun but the time has come…"
The simple refrain was repeated a couple of times as the children carried toys to their correct cubbies and moved building blocks from the floor to the bins. Leonard watched as Mr. Kirk and his classroom assistant moved from area to area, pitching in.
Leonard noticed that although they were standing at a large window right above where Jim Kirk was currently crouched with a couple of students, none of them even glanced their way. "Is this a one-way window?" Leonard asked the principal.
"Yes. All of the classrooms have one. We frequently have visitors and we don't want to disrupt class every time someone wants to observe. On the other side it's just a mirror."
Leonard liked that. A lot.
After just a couple of minutes, the teacher declared the room clean enough for the final story.
"Everyone to the round red rug!"
"Does he always sound so energetic?" Leonard asked. Ms. Uhura snorted gently beside him.
"Yes," she said simply. "All the time." Leonard glanced down at her and noticed the fond look on her face.
"Okay, kiddos," Jim was saying to the kids gathered around him. Everyone was seated on the round, brightly colored rug in the center of the room. He had their rapt attention. "Do you want to know what we're going to read today?"
"Yes!" They answered in unison. He turned to look at the assistant.
"Miss Kelley, did they all fall asleep?" he asked. "I can't hear anything…"
"YES!" the kids yelled again.
"Mr. Kirk, Mr. Kirk…what are we reading? What story is it?"
"Ohhh…there you all are! Okay today we're going to read my favorite book…" he paused while the kids all laughed. Leonard glanced at Ms. Uhura in askance.
"They're all his favorites," she explained.
They listened while Jim Kirk read. The exuberance in his voice held through the whole rhymed story…that happened to be one Leonard knew well. It was one of Jo's favorites
"…You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
be your name Robert or Robin or Rosie McCray
or Michael, Alison, Vance, Allan, or Kay,
You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!"
"At the end…" Leonard started. Ms. Uhura smiled.
"He always substitutes students' names in the stories he reads."
Leonard nodded. He watched as the kids got up to collect their belongings. The bell rang, and instead of the stampede he was expecting, the kids lined up at the door.
"Teachers walk their students to aftercare, parent pick-up and the bus loop," Uhura said. Jim opened the door.
"Oh, hi Ms. Uhura. Say hello to Ms. Uhura guys!"
"HI MS. UHURA!"
"Hi everyone! Have a good day?"
Uhura leaned over to Jim, speaking quickly. Jim nodded.
"Alrighty, my mighty little ones. Ms. Uhura is going to walk you today. See you tomorrow!"
Leonard waited as the kids filed out, each slapping the teacher a high five as they went and Jim giving each of them a personal goodbye. The assistant was the last person in line, and when the door finally closed, the quiet was deafening.
"So," the teacher said, turning to Leonard. "I'm Jim Kirk. Please call me Jim." He held out his hand and shook Leonard's firmly. "You're Joanna McCoy's father."
"Leonard McCoy," he said. "Leonard's fine."
"Good to meet you Leonard. Did you get the chance to observe some of the day?"
"Just the last few minutes."
"Well, you're welcome to come by any time," he gestured at the window. "Though, if you want to actually come in the classroom during class time we'd need to schedule that in advance."
"Of course," Leonard said. He was quiet for a moment…he wasn't quite sure what to ask. Somehow "You're not actually a pedophile, are you?" didn't seem appropriate. Jim watched as he looked around the room.
"Would you like to tour the stations?" Jim asked.
"Yes, let's do that," Leonard said. The two spent a good 15 minutes visiting the different stations that the kids rotated through during the day. Jim explained that the kids were broken into small groups that traveled through the stations together when working individually or in pairs. He talked about whole class learning, when the groups came together, and lead-ins for the next day.
"For example," Jim said. "That story I read at the end of the day will be the theme of our day tomorrow. We'll talk about mountainous regions in social studies, we'll discuss imagery as creating pictures with words in language arts, we'll talk about the way the brain controls the feet in science, and so on."
"Mr. Kirk," Leonard started.
"Jim," he interrupted.
"Jim," Leonard started again. "Wasn't that story kind of advanced for kindergarten?"
"Oh, definitely. But that doesn't really matter. Kids grow intellectually when they are asked to stretch. They didn't understand most of the story, but they felt the excitement and the hope, and when we use pieces of it tomorrow for the various stations, they'll make connections to the story, to their lives. True comprehension for a story like that will come later. For now, it's more about the fun."
"This all looks great, but I don't know how well it's going to suite Joanna."
"Yes, I did read her file. Do you want to sit?" he offered. Leonard looked around at the miniature chairs.
"My desk is over in the corner."
"Oh, okay sure."
They settled and Jim pulled a file out of a desk drawer.
"So, this is Joanna's file…I've got her aptitude results as well as the evaluations. I know this is the first classroom Joanna's going to be in, and you're right in thinking it's not going to be a cakewalk for her at first."
"I just want to make sure she's comfortable," Leonard said.
"Of course. I understand that. But here's the thing…if you let her be comfortable as she is, this relatively mild introversion is not going to be something she grows out of. It's easier to get young children to change the way they interact with their peers and surroundings. If things don't change for Joanna early, it will be much harder for her later on, and she'll never be comfortable in a classroom situation."
They talked for a few more minutes, and Jim asked some very pointed questions that assured Leonard he did really know what he was doing. It also reassured him of Jim's professionalism, and after a while, he thought that maybe this Mr. Kirk actually would be a good teacher for his daughter.
Maybe Ms. Uhura was right after all.