The Teaching Assistant, Parts 0-3

Author’s Note: Similar to “The Road Trip,” this is a story that’s gradually being released for free. However, there are 20+ parts available on my Patreon for those impatient readers. :slight_smile:

PROLOGUE

It all started with a bored teenage girl.

Eighteen year old Ashley Roberts was one of the most popular girls at Westridge Academy. Normally, a hot, rich girl would be content with not working a day in her life, but Ashley wasn’t your average spoiled brat. There was a method to everything she did, including the hours spent working in the main office as an assistant.

It wasn’t about the money; the pennies she made for sitting at the front desk for a few hours every week were nothing compared to the allowance her parents wired to the private high school every month for her to treat herself and to pay the poorer scholarship girls to do her homework. Not that her parents knew the latter.

But money isn’t everything. The assistant position gave Ashley access. All kinds of access. Being in the main office let her suck up to teachers and administrators with none of her peers around to catch her in the act. When no one was looking over her shoulder, she could peruse the files of any student she wanted to check out. And, on those rare instances when she felt bold enough and knew she could get away with it, Ashley could go into the system and change students’ grades. Never a lot; nothing noticeable. But if a girl was irritating her, Ashley could change an A to an A- or a B+ to a B. Worst case scenario, one of those girls would notice an error or two and appeal their grade to get it fixed. If they kept copies of their previous semesters’ grades, of course. Without proof, they’d just look like girls trying to boost their GPA. For the most part, Ashley assumed that her little edits would go unnoticed. It was more for personal satisfaction and petty revenge, as flaunting her exploits would get her into some serious trouble.

There were protocols that were supposed to prevent such abuse, of course, but administrators were busy. Ashley wasn’t supposed to be at the desk without supervision, and technically the rule was to log a student worker out of the computer’s main account whenever there wasn’t an adult present in the office. No one had time for that. Ashley worked there all the time, and always with a polite smile and a helpful attitude. Micromanaging her was too much of a hassle, especially since it would mean constantly pulling her away from the computer whenever anyone had to deliver a copy, grab a signature, or take a quick meeting. Ashley was good at her job. She kept everyone’s schedules up to date, she filed paperwork like a pro, and, after a few weeks of working there, no one batted an eye when she was the only one manning the office.

Ashley was quite happy with the arrangement. Her friends bought the excuse that she worked over lunch every few days as a punishment for whatever trouble she was causing that week. The administrators trusted her enough to leave her alone, and knew nothing about her antics outside of classroom hours. It was perfect; the lies to her girlfriends gave her a rebellious reputation and the lies to the adults kept her in good standing at the school.

Most importantly, her admin-like powers just added onto what being rich and popular already granted her.

It was ideal.

Like most things, however, the job eventually grew monotonous. Her grades got a small upward boost, her enemies’ grades took a minor hit, and there was nothing else she could really get away with while still avoiding any suspicion.

Until the inspiration that struck her in the form of a little blonde haired target.

PART ONE

Amelia Martin nervously sat in her car, counting down the minutes.

She had aimed to be early, but not this early. Her interview was at 12:45 PM, and she pulled into the parking lot just before 12:20. After triple checking her hair and outfit in the mirror, all she could do was draft verbal answers in her mind. Strengths and weaknesses, why she wanted the job, etc. Fresh out of college, the still twenty-two year old really, really wanted this. Westridge Academy was the most prestigious school in the state; an all girls’ academy that groomed teenagers for Ivy League colleges and for later success in life as well. Amelia figured it was worth a shot. Worst case scenario, she could say that she tried, before looking at other private schools. Failing those, she’d get into tutoring or something, as public schools did not appeal to her at all in this day and age.

This wasn’t a full teaching job, but it was a good stepping stone. It was somewhere between a TA position and an internship. Grading papers, leading review sessions, and observing classes would all be part of the teaching side of things, but she would also be responsible for a bit of clerical work around the office. Other young women might have scoffed at the idea of starting their adult life without being a ‘real teacher’ right away, but Amelia knew better. This position offered nearly twice the salary of what she could get as a teacher anywhere else, and that number would only go up once she put in her time and proved herself as someone who could lead a classroom by herself.

After killing almost ten minutes in the car, she finally stepped out just before 12:30. Fifteen minutes early, give or take. Anything more would seem too much, and anything less seemed unprofessional for a school that had such a strong reputation.

She gave herself one last look in the car window, then walked towards the private school’s main office. Everything about her image was carefully crafted. Amelia was short and petite, and her mentors had warned her about the challenges that came with being small in the career path she had chosen. Gaining respect from teenagers was difficult enough for any young adult, and more so when it came to students who were taller than her.

Amelia’s first and last growth spurt was in middle school. She was one of the first in her class to get curves, but that excitement didn’t last for very long. Year after year, her peers developed more and more in both the height and chest department, and she found herself stuck with pretty much just enough curves to identify her as a girl. As a woman, now. She had accepted it, but it didn’t prevent that self conscious feeling from creeping in every now and then when someone assumed she was younger than she was. Liquor stores would excessively check her ID, people would often assume she was still in high school whenever she wore anything too casual, etc. Amelia figured she might appreciate her youthful features when she was older, but it was a huge pain at her current age.

For that reason, she went through plenty of lengths to subvert her immature features. Three inch heels, for height. She was always tempted to do more, but it was important to find a balance between comfort and image. Push-up bras with a bit of padding most days, save for when she was at the gym. Her long, blonde hair was always straightened and then gently curled at the ends for a mature, attractive look. Finally, tactical make-up to hide the few freckles that came with her fair skin, and whatever subtle tricks with eyeshadow and other additions here and there that completed the day’s image.

Normally that was it, but her interview called for a classy outfit as well. Hopefully the modest black skirt and white blouse combo would paint her in a mature and professional light. Amelia wanted this job so badly. She kept telling herself it was only to say that she tried, as the open position aligned so well with graduation and subsequent job hunt, and she could only imagine what kind of competition she might be dealing with. But still. Any other school in the state would be a step down from the impressive campus she had taken in during her drive.

It was easy enough to find where she had to go. The signage in the administration building was intuitive; no surprise there. However, Amelia hadn’t expected the main office to be so empty. As she let the heavy wooden door close behind her, the only face to be found was that of a dark haired student sitting behind the front desk. “Can I help you?” the girl asked, already looking her way after the door opening caught her attention.

“Umm,” Amelia hesitated. She had expected someone on staff, not some girl that was clearly a student here. The plaid green tie over the white button-down was the same as what Amelia had seen on the website during her prep research, as was the dark blazer sitting on the back of the girl’s desk chair. Though Amelia couldn’t confirm it from where she was standing, she assumed the girl also had the plaid skirt that matched the tie underneath. “I’m here for an interview with Mrs. Thompson.”

“Student teacher, I’m assuming?” the girl asked. She looked Amelia up and down without being particularly subtle about it, “You don’t look like the IT type. What’s your name?”

Rude. Or maybe ‘blunt’ would be the better word. But Amelia knew better than to let it get to her. One of the challenges of working at an expensive private school would be dealing with judgmental rich girls. “Amelia. Amelia Martin,” she said.

“Ashley. Ashley Roberts. Nice to meet you,” the girl said, her lips pursed in a small smile as she turned her attention to the computer at her desk. After a few moments of typing and clicking, Ashley glanced back up, “Sorry, Ms. Martin. Did nobody call you? Or email you?”

“Umm, no. I don’t think so,” Amelia said. Her heart dropped at the notion that somebody else might have already swiped the job up. And, insult to injury, she already dressed up, made the drive, and psyched herself up for an interview. So much for Westridge Academy being the best, at least in the communication department. “What is it?” Best to rip the bandaid off.

“Mrs. Thompson had a family emergency come up,” Ashley said, “All of her appointments today were cancelled. You should have gotten a call.”

She was lying.


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Man what a bitch

In case anyone needs some more stuff to read while hiding away from their family this weekend. XD

–Lady Lucia


PART TWO

Amelia frowned a bit as she processed what she was being told. It was better than the job no longer being available, but also an enormous waste of her time. Though that was being selfish. An emergency is an emergency, and maybe there was a voicemail waiting on her phone or something. “So, what now?” Amelia asked, “How long will Mrs. Thompson be out? Should I call to reschedule?”

“I can take care of that for you.” Ashley clicked a few times and pulled up a screen as Amelia stood awkwardly in the middle of the office. In limbo, as she had originally expected to either be greeted here, or to be sent to the administrator’s office. “How does Friday afternoon work for you? Mrs. Thompson should be back by then.”

“That works.” Amelia knew that for sure, as she wasn’t currently working. She dedicated the few weeks following graduation to looking for jobs, for the express purpose of not having conflicts with interviews. “What time?”

“Hmm, never mind. She only has a 5:30 PM slot that day. Traffic will be horrible. How about Monday morning instead?”

“No, 5:30 is fine.” Amelia quickly said. What if the other slots were other interviewees? It would be better to be seen on Friday, just in case someone else stood out and she didn’t have a fair chance to compete before her interview turned into more of a formality. “Let’s stick with Friday.”

“Yes, Ms. Martin.” Ashley nodded. She finished with the computer, then picked up a small packet of papers from nearby, “If you want to speed things along, you can fill this out and fax it back to the office. Someone will get everything processed before you arrive.”

Amelia finally crossed the second half of the room and took the stapled sheets from Ashley. Just a quick skim caused a bit of confusion, though the girl seated at the desk didn’t look like she was amused or trying to pull some kind of prank. It was a Student Registration form. Like any form, it started out asking for her name and other basic information, but then it went on with sections about high school, middle school, GPA, and more.

“Wrong form, Ashley.” Amelia turned it so the seated girl could see the bold words at the top of the page.

Without missing a beat, Ashley responded. “No, that’s the one we use. Westridge doesn’t hire frequently enough to have a separate form for that. Just cross off ‘Student’ and put ‘Applicant’ at the top or something. And ignore everything asking about your current grade and GPA. Just fill in whatever you can. We obviously don’t need you to attach report cards or transcripts either.”

The immature giggle at the end of Ashley’s explanation put Amelia back at ease, as well as the constant ‘Ms. Martin’ references. Initially, she had expected the blunt girl to be the type to call a prospective teacher by her first name, but apparently that wasn’t the case. And, as she glanced through the packet, it made sense. General information was always important, and letting them know about allergies and such wasn’t a bad idea even as a new hire.

“What about the schools?” Amelia asked, seeing the two big grids with boxes for classes and grades for high school and middle school. She could alway substitute university in one of them, but figured it couldn’t hurt to confirm with the girl who worked at the desk.

“Stick with the form as best as you’re able. Just put the name of your old schools in those boxes, and don’t worry about the classes. College and anything else can go on the back or wherever you can find space. And obviously don’t worry about parent or guardian. Either way, I wouldn’t overthink it. The office can clarify whatever they need to on Friday, but they do prefer having as much history as possible on the form.”

Ashley’s words made sense. Having multiple forms asking for the same information did seem a bit wasteful and unnecessary, and the point she made at the end drove it home. It was Westridge Academy. The kind of school that cared about details; if not between forms, then what was written on those forms. The names of her previous schools would give some insight into where she was raised, which may or may not come up in Friday’s interview. Amelia’s initial doubt was easily washed away.

“Got it,” Amelia said, “Friday, at 5:30 PM?”

“Mm hmm,” Ashley nodded, “I don’t think I’m working then, but someone will be here to greet you.”

“Sounds good.” Amelia didn’t particularly care which student was working the front desk at the time. She was more concerned with the interview itself, and Mrs. Thompson was the one she needed to impress. Not some student handling things in the main office. “Well, have a good week, Ashley. I’m sure I’ll see you around if I get the job.”

“Maybe. Oh, you should fax the form at noon tomorrow,” Ashley said, with a wink, “That’ll put you at the top of the pile.”

Amelia couldn’t help but give a small smile in response. She had definitely misjudged the girl at the desk. The cancelled appointment was still a nuisance and a waste of her time, but perhaps this would all work out for the better. Now she was familiar with the school’s layout, and had a few more days to prepare for potential interview answers, she would hopefully be more at ease when she returned in a few days.

“Thank you, Ashley,” Amelia said, “Anything else I should know?”

“Nope! Good luck on Friday.”

With another ‘thank you,’ Amelia turned and left the office, registration form in hand. Just a few more days, and she’d have her shot at being a student teacher at Westridge. Though this development meant she’d have to miss another day at work, it would all be worth it when she could drop the minimum wage job that was only a placeholder anyway. The money at the prestigious academy was much more alluring, as were the possibilities that came with it.

Lost in thoughts on the way out the office door, Amelia failed to notice the devious smirk on Ashley’s face.

PART THREE

“Hey, Amelia!”

Once again, Ashley was working the front desk. Amelia was surprised, for a number of reasons. Wasn’t the girl a student? And didn’t she say she wasn’t working today? Then again, Amelia had only been here at lunchtime and now 5:30 on a Friday. Neither of those times would conflict with classes, and perhaps Ashley was able to get her studying done during whatever down time she had in the office. As for the latter question, there was no sense dwelling on it. The girl could have easily just mixed up her schedule.

“Hey, Ashley.” Amelia gave her a nod. Realizing a second too late that she probably shouldn’t be so casual with a student that could potentially be in one of her future classes, Amelia corrected herself with a belated, “Perhaps Ms. Martin, next time?” Hopefully it would be as easy as the other day, where Ashley simply adjusted to a more respectful approach. Amelia was fresh out of college, and guessed her first few years as a teacher would be spent demanding respect thanks to both her age and her youthful appearance.

“Ms. Martin,” Ashley said, without hesitation, “If you’re ready, Mrs. Thompson can see you now. All the way down the hall, hang a right, and she’s the last door on the left. Sorry again for the mix-up a few days ago.”

“It’s no problem,” Amelia said, “Did the office get all my information?”

“Probably? I don’t work here every day, so I wasn’t the one who got it. If you want, I can pull up your file?”

“No, it’s fine. I should get to my interview.”

“Good luck! I think you’ll be a great fit here.”

“Thanks, Ashley,” Amelia smiled, “Have a good weekend.”

Amelia had done everything she was told. In the name of being thorough, she filled out every single line on the registration form, complete with the extra information added on the back. If the interview went well, then everything else could be expedited. And, while the cancelled appointment had been a nuisance as she begrudgingly drove back home the other day, maybe it was a blessing in disguise. The extra time allowed her to fine tune her canned interview answers, as walking the confident/arrogant line could be quite difficult when talking about yourself. At this point, Amelia was more sure that she could put a more genuine spin on the ways she was prepared to talk herself up for the position.

The directions were easy enough to follow. The first hall ended in a fork, and the second led to a dead end. Impossible to get lost, and the office on the end was one of the only rooms with a light on. It was late afternoon on a Friday, which made sense that most teachers and administrators were already gone. Maybe this time slot was a mistake after all? Her interviewer might be burnt out after a long day; a long week depending on what the family emergency was. But it was too late to change things now.

Amelia’s knock was met with a muffled “Come in!” through the door.

Young.

That was the first description that crossed Amelia’s mind when she laid her eyes on Mrs. Thompson. The brunette woman looked to be around the same age as Amelia herself. She wore a pencil skirt and blouse, and looked more like a teacher than an administrator. Like most women, she was taller and more endowed than the petite interviewee lingering in the doorway. “Amelia Martin?” she asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” Amelia nodded. Inwardly cursing at her southern roots coming out, she took a step into the room. For whatever reason, she had assumed an older woman would be the one interviewing her. It had thrown her enough to steal away whatever greeting she’d normally use.

Gesturing to the chair across the desk, Mrs. Thompson sat back down. “Please, come in. And close the door behind you.”

Amelia did as instructed. She quietly collected herself, once again having the thought that this could be another blessing. A younger woman might be more inclined to hire her, as gaining the trust of someone twice her age would be more difficult in comparison. “How are you doing?” Amelia asked. Small talk first, right? Breaking the ice.

“Doing well, thanks. Please, have a seat.”


The interview was smooth, for the most part.

Amelia had prepared well. After the brief awkwardness that tends to come with not only meeting someone new, but being in an unfamiliar environment, the conversation felt more natural. She touched on her strengths and weaknesses, the easiest question to have prepared answers for. The tricky part was what came next, when she had to explain how her lack of experience might impact her performance at such a prestigious school. Amelia answered as best as she was able, with the logic of how teachers who had been at the job for a while might already be stuck in their ways. She, however, was fresh out of college, and ready to be molded by the academy teachers themselves. The questions bounced back and forth between personal history and different iterations of why she might be a good fit for Westridge. All in all, the interview was a blur, despite how focused Amelia remained.

Mrs. Thompson was impossible to read. The young woman’s face was just friendly enough to not be cold, but otherwise remained neutral as she jotted down a thing or two along the way. By the end, Amelia had absolutely no idea how she stood. While the conversation itself felt natural, there was the self doubt that came with such challenging questions, as well as the knowledge that she was surely up against other candidates. The anticipation was going to be the longest weekend of her life.

“There is one more thing, Amelia,” Mrs. Thompson said.

“Yes, what is it?” Amelia asked.

“What is your availability like next week? Would you be able to audit classes for a full school day? Ideally, we like candidates to do so for a full week, but I know that’s not realistic for everyone.”

This time, Amelia managed to avoid an ‘umm’ that would normally follow a question she wasn’t prepared for. She audited one or two classes in college, but that was with peers. But it was a reasonable enough request. If she was going to work here, it would be good to have a sense of how classes were run before she started. “Of course,” Amelia nodded, “I’d be happy to observe for a day. I think that’s a really good idea.”

“Great. Does Monday work for you? You included your measurements on the form, yes?”

“My measurements?”

“Yes,” Mrs. Thompson said. Setting Amelia’s file aside, she continued with something the blonde interviewee was not at all expecting. “We’ll have a student uniform ready for you on Monday.”


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