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 Scapegoat (Andrei)

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Mimosa Harrington

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PostSubject: Scapegoat (Andrei)   Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:22 am


There was something profoundly unsettling about Valentine's Day to Adelaide Goshawk, a day when pink reigned the dominant color and and young people were more likely to make poor judgement calls. Still, the school had to observe the occasion so the pink banners were out, the enchanted skies rained occasional misty hearts and house elves found an additional duty on their chore roster - delivering love notes all around the castle.

The headmistress herself had received the usual perfunctory card from the staff wishing her a good day and a few personalized notes from individual staff members who either genuinely wished her a happy 14th of February or were trying to kiss up in the wake of all the firings that were to come.

A big bouquet of roses took place of pride on her desk, arranged perfectly in a crystal vase. She wondered if Harvey had picked the flowers himself or gotten his secretary to do it. They looked too tasteful for his rather bland eye towards flowers.

Today, the redhead was seated behind her desk contemplating a simple folder marked "Kessler, A." The subject of her file had been asked to come see her at his earliest convenience, to which today's date had been agreed upon. in her hands, the witch held his entire career summary at Hogwarts. How he conducted classes, how his lessons were received and his general conduct around school. Of interest was also his vast teaching experience. Adelaide had also found he actually held sway in his chosen field, perceived as an academical authority on Runes.

And yet there was almost something negligible about the man that she couldn't put her finger on. Was he too unassuming? Too prone to getting lost in the crowd? She supposed they'd find out soon enough. Tapping her long, expertly manicured nails on the desk, the redhead waited for her appointment to arrive.

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Andrei Kessler
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PostSubject: Re: Scapegoat (Andrei)   Tue Nov 07, 2017 1:57 am

Up until a few years ago, Andrei rather enjoyed valentine’s day. It meant getting a babysitter for the kids, taking Marie out to dinner, and then spending a sleepless night with her. That, however, all changed as Helen got older. Now, he wouldn’t call himself overprotective, but it just seemed that his daughter had such poor taste in boys. Why couldn’t she just hang out with her friends? Alas, she found it prudent to make googly eyes at fourth years and in his class no less. So, suffice to say he had other things on his mind than the meeting he was now walking to.

Early on in his career, the runes professor might have gotten worked up about a meeting with someone who was essentially his boss. Though, with age came an effortless confidence that even as he knocked once on Goshawk’s door before entering never left him. After all, in his travels, he’d surmounted many more daunting challenges than one stuck-up businesswoman could possibly offer. Plus, the worst thing she could do was fire him, which, in the grand scheme of things, wasn’t all that bad.

“Good morning,” he chirped with a smile as he made his way across the room to where the headmistress sat. “I trust the day is treating you well.”

Waiting to be asked to take a seat, Andrei took note of the of the roses and cards. He had signed the one from the entire staff but did not elect to send a personalized one as it seemed to be crossing more than a few boundaries. And, if nothing else, he was a man of boundaries.
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PostSubject: Re: Scapegoat (Andrei)   Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:45 am

"Andrei, what a pleasure," the redhead greeted with a professionally warm smile. "Please do take a seat." The file she had been perusing had been appropriately put away before he had entered but the contents of the folder were still sharp in her mind. Though the Runes' professor's records suggested he was close to her in age, he could easily pass for ten years older. Whether that reflected well on her beauty regiment or poorly on his, who was to say?

"As well as it can, I suppose," she replied smoothly before moving on. "I signed off on your little excursion next month. I'm sure the students will be delighted at a chance to step out of the classroom. I always was at that age." Not that much had changed now. Even today, Adelaide would rather almost be anywhere than the inside of a classroom.

There was a certain office etiquette observed world wide, and this meeting was no different. the first few minutes would pass with only small talk before they got to the meat of the matter. "So any special plans with Marie this weekend?" she asked lightly, letting him know she had done enough research to memorize his family's names. "Or is all the grading getting in the way of family time?"

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Andrei Kessler
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PostSubject: Re: Scapegoat (Andrei)   Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:19 am

“Yes, yes, Egypt is lovely this time of year,” Andrei nodded good-naturedly as he took a seat. “I think the students will get a kick out of it and who knows? They might even learn something.”

He paused here for less than a breath and flashed a wry smile in spite of himself.

“Hopefully the parents are as obliging as yourself.”

He did really wonder if anyone would show up for his next lesson at all. On one hand, he had little doubt that the students would be excited about it, but on the other hand, there were the parents. Parents could be finicky when it came to such things like trusting a teacher to take their kids to a far-off land. Funny how that worked, no? Luckily, the trip would be fairly straightforward with very little room for unwanted surprises—it was nothing he hadn’t done with his own kids many times before, after all.

The mention of too much grading conjured a light airy chuckle from the wizard that seemed to belong to a younger man—managing personal and work life was old hat for him at this point in his life.

“I’m meeting her for dinner in Hogsmeade later this evening and then I was thinking I’d take her on a walk through the grounds,” Andrei admitted with a certain wistfulness—Marie had never been to Hogwarts. “We actually met about twenty years to the day…”

Ironically enough, he’d met Marie in Egypt of all places. She spent the days with him on some godforsaken excavation and he spent the nights with her swapping the stories of their then young lives. What happened next? Well, he could only describe it as magic. Alas, however, now was not the time for a dewy-eyed walk down memory lane, he had all night for that.

“How about yourself?”
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PostSubject: Re: Scapegoat (Andrei)   Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:41 am

"I'm afraid I wouldn't know," she admitted, keeping up with the pleasantries. "I've only been to Egypt twice and both times, all I saw were the insides of various meeting rooms." Not entirely true, she had also seen the inside of their hotel suite but the additional information would hardly change her point.

When the man confided it had been twenty years, the first spark of genuine appreciation lit up Adelaide's eyes. Perhaps they had something in common after all? In a staff made up of either unmarried, widowed or divorced individuals, she and Andrei seem to be the only ones holding up the institution of long term marriage. "Congratulations," she offered, sliding towards him a red heart shaped box of cliched valentines chocolates someone had left on her desk earlier. "Please help yourself. Whoever left this for me clearly has no consideration for my waistline."

When asked of her own plans, the witch shook her head softly. "I'm afraid our plans will be delayed. My Husband Harvey is currently overseas. He'll be back sometime in March I imagine, so i'll have to take a day or two off." Over the years, it had become less important to observe the high holidays but the can opener tradition was one they'd kept alive. And she was looking quite forwards to it this time around too.

"So," she began, lacing her fingers together and resting her pointed chin on the interlocked hands, leaning forwards as if partaking in a secret. "How is it really been going with teaching? I understand your last job had less child involvement. How do you find the transition so far?"

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PostSubject: Re: Scapegoat (Andrei)   Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:30 am

Andrei shrugged at the woman’s congratulations as if they were nothing, because, in his opinion, being married for a long time wasn’t much of a feat. He never thought of divorce as an option. Sure, he and Marie fought at times, what couple didn’t?  However, both husband and wife were strong believers in working out their problems no matter what they may be, which had, apparently, fallen out of fashion as of late. Nonetheless, he accepted the headmistresses' offer of chocolate and picked one of the less flashy sweets.

Instead of daring to mention how sad it was that the woman across from him would be unable to spend time with her husband on such an iconic day, Andrei nodded understandingly before popping the chocolate in his mouth. For some reason, he had a sneaking suspicion that he and Adelaide had very different takes on both marriage and life. Oh well, such was life; it wasn’t his job to push his personal views on others, especially his supposed superiors.

“I’ll be honest,” Andrei let out a sigh as if he were about to divulge a well-kept secret. “It’s been a fresh of breath air and more than a bit nostalgic. As I’m sure you know I spent quite some time teaching at the university level in the Muggle world before taking a museum job. And sure, Hogwarts and Oxford are a bit different, but the objective—if you’ll forgive the cliché—is the same, teaching the next generation. It has a certain charm to it and I’ll readily admit that even after all these years I still learn something new every day that I otherwise wouldn’t have.”

He didn’t hurry through his response, but rather walked through it methodically and thoughtfully much like he did with anything.

“So, I’d say it’s going well.”

He liked to think the good attendance in all his lessons thus far spoke for itself.
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PostSubject: Re: Scapegoat (Andrei)   Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:52 am

The headmistress listened with keen interest as Andrei described his experience at the school thus far. Truth be told she hadn't expected a whole lot of complaints mostly because the staff was generously paid, probably overcompensated in case of injury or health hazards and was not overly fussy about hosting families of those who worked at the school not unlike the professor's wife later this evening. there was also a certain fee deduction set aside for children of staff, a benefit soon both of the man's children would be enjoying. Still, to hear no complaints whatsoever surprised her.

"Well, my life would be a whole lot easier if everyone gained as much job satisfaction here as you do," she replied with a polite smile. While Adelaide would never understand how someone could spend all their days with children and still feel like they'd accomplished something, she also knew not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

"Though that being said, do you think there's anything the management could improve upon? I understand there hasn't been much in the way of staff culture here over the last few years, mostly due to excessive turnover. Would you care to opine on that?" This time, she was genuinely interested. The first rule of business was to take all feed back. the twisting up of said feedback to benefit oneself came later.

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PostSubject: Re: Scapegoat (Andrei)   Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:43 pm

Andrei’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly at the headmistresses’ next question. It wasn’t that he hadn’t expected it, but rather that he abhorred questions such as these. They were a lot being asked ‘what are your weaknesses’ in a job interview in so far as one had to be careful how one answered. So, furrowing his brow, he remained silent for a few moments collecting his thoughts. Certainly, Hogwarts had flaws, but the trick would be to present them in the proper way; honesty couldn't go very far without tact.

“That’s a good question,” he started with the stock answer all teachers gave to inquisitive students—habits are hard to break. “And I’m not sure that I’m the best person to answer it though having only been here a short while. That said, I’ll admit that I’m not altogether shocked by the high turnover rate of staff; it seems to come with the territory of younger professors.”

Call him an academic snob or what have you, but Andrei didn’t have much faith in 20-something-year-olds teaching kids only a few years younger than themselves. Of course, there were exceptions and these 20-something-year-olds could be quite talented in their field, however, they lacked life experience. Life experience, in Andrei’s opinion, often trumped specified knowledge when push came to shove—a certain young dueling teacher came to mind in this instance.

“I know I was the same way when I was younger, jumping from place-to-place and job-to-job looking for the next big thing,” he paused here as a slight redness rose in his cheeks—he was rambling. “Long story short, I don’t think staff culture is something that can be fixed overnight. School culture, well, I think that’s a different story. Perhaps times have changed since you and I were kids, but I remember school as being a place full fun, laughter, and more than a few fistfights. Now it seems Quidditch matches lack a certain hype, clubs are dwindling, and students would much rather spend their time texting their faraway friends as opposed to engaging in house and school activities.”

Ok, so maybe his ramble had turned into a rant, but he liked to think it held a kernel of truth in it: Hogwarts felt more sterile than it had before. It felt less like a home away from home and more like, well, a school. Therein perhaps lay the school’s funding woes as a whole: student—both past and present—engagement.

“Then again,” he concluded with a self-deprecating shrug. “Maybe I’m just getting old, but I think school management should look to nurture a community experience and not solely an academic one.”
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PostSubject: Re: Scapegoat (Andrei)   Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:30 pm

While the headmistress couldn't exactly agree to Andrei's notion of a school as warm and inviting as a home, she could certainly agree on the point of hiring young staff members. in the past, she assumed the tactic had been to give the school some "celebrity" appeal. Unfortunately, celebrities were fickle and had much better things to do then hang around to teach a bunch of children. Teachers back in her day had been old, ugly and stuffy, but they had gotten the job done. Today's casual "don't call me professor" types strove for the children's approval rather than the other way around.

"I think we've managed to at least pinpoint one problem there," she conceded, validating his carefully constructed point with her official seal. "The board has had growing concerns lately about the "flash" of certain teachers being arguably more than the "substance" of them." Of course, the board was of the opinion that the students should provide the flash but that didn't need saying here. There was also a ready list of teachers the board had approved terminations of, but again, that would come later.

"And I do appreciate the idea of a more involved student experience," she added thoughtfully. "I chaired the Young Entrepreneur's Club back in my day," Adelaide offered offhandedly. "Proud Gryffindor, go lions!" Though setting up clubs and activities again required dedicated teachers, teachers who took the school as their top priority instead of a part time gig, as the youngsters referred to it these days.

"How would you like to make a start on creating this nurturing environment?" the witch proposed, looking directly at him. It was all well and good to propose ideas for improvements, a whole different story to actually act upon them. "Something that wouldn't require a great deal of financial investment and be incentive enough for students to leave their phones and dorm rooms?" He had two children of his own, surely the man knew how to entertain the little midgets.

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PostSubject: Re: Scapegoat (Andrei)   Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:26 pm

There was something mildly disturbing in imagining the woman across from him as a student. Perhaps it had something to do with the image of a penny-pinching thirteen-year-old or maybe it was rather the idea that a carefree kid could grow up into an uptight adult—Andrei couldn’t be certain. However, to use a phrase his son Nikolai seemed to enjoy using as of late: it was ‘cringy af’(the older man wasn’t too sure what the ‘af’ stood for just yet) hearing the woman recite her old house cheer despite that fact that it elicited what appeared to be a genuine smile from Andrei.

Then came a much easier question, one the runes professor had considered often while trying to keep his students’ attention. Of course, his knee-jerk reaction to capturing a classes’ attention was to ban cell phones, but that would never go over well. Banning something just made the market go underground, which was probably worse in the long run. No, the headmistress no doubt desired a more level-headed plan.

“Well, as we discussed it would have to start with a more permanent base of teachers,” he stated plainly—best to build off of common ground. “However, that’s obviously not enough as we’d need to spark a students’ interest and good teaching is only one part of developing an interest…”

He trailed off here and considered his next words carefully: anecdotes were always a good way to go.

“You know what? When I started my masters at Oxford a gentleman by the name of Dr.Jones came to speak to us. At the time, I thought I’d study something silly like mathematics or chemical engineering, but during his lecture Dr. Jones opened up the world of archaeology to me and here I am a few decades later doing something I love all because of the hour I spent listening to somebody passionate about their work,” To make his point he spread his hands out slightly referring to the castle around him. “Moral of the story is that while creating clubs would be great in theory, that’s not enough as we need students to willingly fill those clubs.

He paused again to take a breath.

“So, I suppose my suggestion would be to bring people in from beyond the castle walls and beyond the world of academia to not only speak to but inspire the students. Kind of show them what’s out there and kickstart their ambitions. I can only imagine it would do wonders for engagement when coupled with an appropriate outlet such as clubs and organizations. If nothing else it is a step in the right direction.”

Andrei left out the part where inviting people to speak would also create bonds between Hogwarts and the wider wizarding world, which would indubitably benefit both the school’s reputation and its bottom line. He didn’t elaborate on such a point as it would be far better to allow the red-haired woman to come to such a conclusion on her own. She was, after all, a businesswoman and they seemed to have a fetish for the bottom line along with their on cleverness.
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