Clip, clop. Clip, clop. The sound of their heels hitting the linoleum floor echoed through the hallways of Garehime Elementary School. As they walked by in a tightly formed group, the kids around them scrambled to catch a glimpse.
The group of neatly dressed fifth graders turned the corner and walked into a classroom, clipboards in hand. Abby, a quiet girl who had just transferred from another school, immediately sensed she was in the presence of people who were very important.
A boy in a suit tapped Abby on the shoulder, and her eyes widened. “May we please speak to your manager?” he said.
She pointed in the direction of her boss, Andrew and then turned to her friend and whispered, “Who are they?”
“They are the Department of Education,” Ellie said matter-of-factly.
“What are they doing here?”
“They’re here to make sure we’re following the standards.”
“What are the standar—-“
Ellie interrupted her before she could finish. “Shhh! I know you’re new, but you’ll get us in trouble if they think you don’t know.”
Abby was stunned. She had just started working as an assistant bookkeeper at the Garehime Heights Print Shop two weeks ago, but it was the shop’s busy season, and Andrew wasn’t able to meet with her until next week.
It was too late. One of the girls, sharply dressed in a black dress with black leggings and boots, spun around to face them. “Can I speak with you privately?” she asked Abby.
Abby gulped and muttered under her breath, “I’ve only been here two weeks and I’m already in trouble.”
The girl in black took her aside and held out her hand. “Hi, I’m Devon. I hear you’re new here.”
“Yes, I’m Abby,” she responded softly. “I’m an assistant bookkeeper.”
“Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble,” she said. “We’re here from the Department of Education. We were elected to monitor how your company is meeting certain academic standards. For example – we’d be interested in seeing how your department incorporates new math skills and assignments as you learn throughout the year.”
Abby nodded. “Has your boss spoken with you about this yet?”
Abby was hesitant to answer. She was the new girl, and really wanted her co-workers to like her. Devon sensed her nervousness.
“It’s OK, ” she assured Abby. “We just want to make sure he’s keeping you informed.”
“Well, it’s been really busy and… we haven’t had a chance to meet yet. But we’re going to next Wednesday.”
Abby nervously folded her hands together as Devon took notes.
“Andrew is a really great boss,” she added.
“Tell me more about your experience here at the Print Shop,” Devon said.
Abby told her about how the entire team had welcomed her on her first day, and how Andrew had arranged for her to be trained right away. The entire company had even collected together some Micro bucks to buy her a special gift from another store.
Devon nodded and smiled as she continued taking notes. Abby felt more at ease.
“What are you writing?” Abby asked curiously.
“I’m leaving a note for Andrew,” she said. Abby gulped, wondering if her boss was in trouble.
“I think it’s really great how he took a lot of time and care to get the whole store involved in welcoming you here,” she said. “I’m going to ask him to share his ideas at the next business meeting.”
Abby’s eyes lit up. “Really?”
“I understand he hasn’t gone over the standards with you yet, but you said he’d already scheduled a meeting. So I’ll be back next week to make sure.”
Abby nodded. “I know he’ll keep his word.”
Devon and Abby shook hands again. “One more thing, Devon,” Abby said.
“Sure, what is it?”
“How do I join the Department of Education?”
Devon smiled and pulled a small card from underneath her notebook. “Here’s my card,” she said.
“Come meet with me next week and I’ll tell you all about it.”