The next morning Mrs. Miles arrived a bit early to school. She unlocked her classroom door placed her coffee and bag on the desk and then made her way to the office.
In the office the secretary Mrs. Stamper nodded and she headed down the short hall to the Principal’s office. “Mr. Woodson, can I have a word?”
“Sure come on in.” He motioned for her to have a seat.
“Is the team ready for tonight?”
“I think so.”
“This season should be a lot of fun to watch.”
Mr. Woodson always seemed young to be a principal. Stephanie had never asked but she figured he was in his mid to late 30’s. He often talked about his little girl, who was three, and his wife, who had just finished studying to be a nurse.
He’d been a teacher at Riverside High School, the school Lincoln fed in to, and then an assistant principal there when the long time principal at Lincoln had retired. Mrs. Snellen, like Stephanie, had been here since the school opened 12 years ago and her’s were big shoes to fill.
Stephanie thought that Mr. Woodson had done just about as good a job as possible at keeping the high standard that Mrs. Snellen had created at the school. It helped that all of the staff and faculty had been in favor of his hiring and had stayed. Their support and the continuity that they offered made the transition easier.
“You know this group of eighth graders were coming in to sixth grade when I started here. I feel like I’ve really seen them grow as young women and as teammates.”
“They really have. This has been a special group of girls.”
“So what brings you in this morning?”
“Well I wanted to find out some background on one of the new players. Do you know what the story is on Emmy Taylor? I’ve yet to meet a parent and now she’s been late to practice twice without any explanation.”
“The name doesn’t ring a bell, so let me pull her up in the system and we can take a look.” Mr. Woodson typed her name into the computer and waited. “I’m not finding her.
“Oh sorry its actually Emmylou Taylor.” He gave her a glance. “I know she said her mom loved the singer. She hates it.”
He corrected the name and this time found Emmy’s file. Reading it over he sighed. “I don’t think you’ll ever meet any parents. If you have trouble with her being late you’ll have to contact John Case over at St. Thomas.”
Coach’s eyes closed. “She’s one of the kids from St. Thomas?”
“Yes.” Lincoln Middle School was in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. About five years ago a religious organization had petitioned the city government for approval to build a children’s home on some property near the edge of the city. The plan was to build a group home for older kids that for some reason or another couldn’t be placed with a family. Some of the kids had behavior disorders and others medical problems or had been the victims of abuse.
The home had brought them a mixture of students. Several years ago one of the most amazing students had been a resident there. This young girl played the piano unlike anyone Stephanie had ever heard. She’d gotten a scholarship to one of the prestigious private high schools in Cincinnati that had a fantastic arts program. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, they’d gotten students who’d spent their entire childhoods in the system and lacked any parental supervision. These kids were disruptive within the classroom and prone to violence. Stephanie had one of those students this year and it made her job rough.
“She seems like a good kid, any idea why she’s there and not with a family?”
“I’m not sure. Let me see if there’s anything in her file.” He paused as he read the notes in her file. “Well looks like her academic records are stellar and behavior reports from her old school are good. This year her grades are perfect, literally. She has a 100% in every class.
“She’s turned in a progress report each week and they’ve all been glowing. Sounds like she’s dealing with a lot. Maybe its nothing, just adjusting to things here. Thanks sir.”
“Anytime. Keep an eye on her. If you think we need to, we can give Mr. Case a call and check on things.”
“I will. Thanks again.” Mrs. Miles stood and left closing the door to his office as she exited. She was even more worried now. Emmy was such a respectful kid. In the time since that first open gym she’d watched her go downhill. Her play was still amazing, but socially she was withdrawn. She never smiled and lately there’d been little things that the coach had noticed. Like the slight sway yesterday at practice after running that made Coach worry something was going on.