The Last Clone.
When we started at this school site, my co-teacher and I had a team of teachers that were largely new hires. Young people, at the beginning of their careers, generally at the top of their class, some of them recruited by Teach for America. They were smart, highly qualified, and mostly trained and educated by the same places in the same paradigms, so there was a fair amount of overlap in their ideas and opinions.
In addition, a surprising number of them were young women with a strikingly similar look, having dark hair and fair complexions, in a similar style and with unusually similar features. At some point, I made the crack that “somebody left the cloning machine on,” and the idea stuck with me through the illustration process for Adequacy, representing the junior teachers as newly minted Clone Troopers.
Over the years, the “clones” as it were, have left. In four years since the reorganization, we started this year with merely one of the “clones” left in place, an English teacher that I have serious respect for, given her intelligence and dedication to the job. Always working hard, coming in early and staying late, this young woman is an example that the students should strive to be like, to impress. This year has been ROUGH, and she finally made the call to seriously interview at other schools. Being the highly qualified person that she is, she promptly found another posting.
The salient point is…she actually made great effort to teach at our school in the first place. She knew what she was getting into, at the reorganization, and still signed on. This teacher stuck out some tough, tough years…and this year, she decided that things were enough. Partially administration was an issue, but more than that, it was her perception of a lack of support in dealing with students. My co-teacher and I have been teaching for close to two decades, and I will admit…this year has been the hardest that we have ever seen.
Two days ago, the last of the clones informed our school that she would not be coming back, that she had secured a posting elsewhere.
I tried to capture the feeling of that. Of having to tell that to someone that you don’t really know that well, and having to basically say, despite what you feel, that you have given up. It’s Amanda Waller’s second appearance in the strip, because when you’re leaving the Suicide Squad, you need to tell the Wall. I also decided that she should be turning in a generic War Machine helmet….and that was for two reasons. Thematically, this year’s staff were represented as having these knock off War Machine Suits as a generic accommodation, so she would have it, in storyline. Secondly, it seemed that she deserved an upgrade from Generic Clone Trooper to Big Kid Status. The protagonist wears a War Machine Suit often enough…and this Clone is at least as hard working at the job as she is. She cares at least as much.
I guess also…the person in reference here wears a lanyard for her keys, and this year, every day, it proudly sports a Tony Stark style helmet on it. I felt that in the end, she should have chosen her own gear.
You’ll note that the helmet is beat up, and she looks a bit sad, a bit pensive. As usual, the metaphor is heavy handed, people. You can figure it out.
I look forward to printing, mounting, and framing today’s art to give to her, with all due respect accorded. A weekend project, I should think.
It also leaves my school’s English department greatly diminished. A position like that is hard to fill with someone as competent, intelligent and dedicated…even harder to get that person to tough it out, in the Negative Zone.