A frog in the school library? The librarian on Dick Sargent’s February 1956 cover can’t figure out why Jimmy seems so engrossed with his history homework. Notice the gloppy fountain pen where he started taking notes until he decided it was much more fun playing with little Froggy. If the librarian zeroes in for closer inspection, will screams ensue? We showed you hardworking teachers, but what about the other school workers?
Artist Richard Sargent also shows us that principals, too, have their crosses to bear. In the February 1959 two-part cover, we see little Bobby greeting the principal happily in a “nice to see you, sir!” gesture. Gee, what a nice kid. But … the gesture changes in panel two, after the little stinker got in trouble in class. It looks as if he was sent to the Library next door to get a book on how to behave (Manners Are Fun, the title reads) and decides to let baldy know what he really thinks. Let’s hope that door doesn’t open and Mr. Principal sees that tongue sticking out. He’ll have more than a boring book to worry about.
At least little Bobby wasn’t sent to the principal’s office for fighting, as in the Frances Tipton Hunter cover from September 1936. Two boys stand disheveled outside the principal’s office: They have some explaining to do, starting with the black eye. Certainly not the first time this has happened. Artist J.C. Leyendecker showed us two schoolboys going at each other fast and furious way back in 1911. What is it about boys and fighting? Wait a minute. There is that Rockwell cover from May 1953 with the girl in pigtails boasting quite a shiner while sitting outside the principal’s office.
Let’s not forget the hardworking bus drivers. “At what point did I lose control?” The driver is musing in the September 1950 cover. Climbing over seats, pulling hair, and just being overall rowdy, this is quite a trip. And the school year is only beginning. Will the poor driver make it to Thanksgiving vacation?
Showing the other side of the coin is the September 12, 1959, cover by the same artist. After a summer of noise and bustling activity interspersed with whining complaints of “I’m bored,” Mom finally gets the kids off to school. And it is a sweet moment indeed as she kicks off her shoes, lies back, and enjoys a cup of coffee, with nary a thought for the poor bus driver. Hey, she’s done her time.
But we’re being unfair here. Not all students are misbehaving little monsters, right? There’s the October 16, 1920, cover … never mind, that boy has a slingshot. OK, there’s artist Alan Foster’s September 1930 cover … never mind, that boy is writing “I was tardy” a hundred times on the blackboard. We’ve got it! Norman Rockwell’s June 26, 1926, cover of the schoolmaster extolling the virtues of the young scholar who seems to be grabbing “first in class” honors. May you shine as brightly this school year.