Hepting’s Road: A novel of teaching
Thirtysomething Seattle native STEVE HEPTING is a man to be admired. From an impoverished background he achieves financial success as a turn of the millennium stock broker; only to implode financially and romantically in the tech bust in 2001-02. Seeking reconciliation with live-in partner and primary teacher MONIQUE LAMBERT, and in need of a paycheck, Steve is unexpectedly selected for a high school teaching position in a small town north of Seattle. Surviving comedic classroom stumbles, thwarting mean-spirited colleagues and mentoring “TINY” LITTLE, a slow-witted, football-playing lummox, occupies Steve’s attention.
“Woolman weaves the human dynamic of the often gritty economic reality of the school system with the capers and magic of life in the classroom.”
Jill Peacocke – High School English Teacher
When not working to motivate his disadvantaged, vulnerable students, Steve is fawning over an attractive, coquettish teacher colleague, CHARLOTTE WILSON and ignoring a potentially rewarding relationship with school secretary DONNA MEDFORD. Returning to his system-challenging persona, Steve acts as an advocate for at-risk students. He tangles with a domineering, data-diva principal until her subterfuge results in a mid-year transfer. Steve is forced to accept an elementary school position, teaching upper-middle class fifth-grade children while the mercurial Charlotte remains at the high school.
Despite the administrative transfer of friend and mentor BARB PINHOLM to the same elementary school, Steve finds teaching too much work for too little pay. He opts to return to the financial industry, eschewing a business offer from janitor JIM FELTY, a rich friend and stock picker extraordinaire. A litany of humorous teaching errors, particularly when dealing with Charlotte’s son who is a student in his class, convinces Steve that he has no future in teaching, though he is making a more positive impact than he realizes.
“In the process of guiding a diverse group of students from disadvantaged high-schoolers to upper-middle class children, Steve Hepting discovers their hidden gifts through humor and compassion.”
Bridget Mawhinney – Elementary School Teacher and Counselor.
The lack of perceived professional success mirrors Steve’s personal life. An attempted reconciliation with Monique fails and Donna’s brawling, jealous ex-husband is an obstacle to a closer connection with the secretary. The vivacious Charlotte continues to be unpredictable, in part explained by two episodes of male desertion, at birth and as a pregnant teen. Charlotte encourages Steve to return to the financial industry, possibly eyeing future financial comfort. Once again Steve is manipulated by an unethical leader, on this occasion the manager of the investment firm, and refuses the stock broker offer under such deceitful circumstances.
“As a middle school principal, consistently frustrated by educational bureaucracy I can clearly relate to this amusing story that deals with interpersonal relationships in and outside of school. A good read!” Phil Maund – Middle School Teacher and Principal (retired).
Temporarily stung by the misfortune, Steve is energized by student enthusiasm for an international aid project, conceived by Principal Pinholm, while Janitor Jim and special-needs teen, Tiny Little who, under Jim’s tutelage, is becoming an adroit stock picker, provide financial support. Steve is impressed with the project’s potential, not only for improving the prospects of Namibian villagers but in stimulating the humanitarian instincts of affluent American children.
Steve finally disavows the manipulative Charlotte and seeks to establish a relationship with Donna. The heartfelt support from the fifth-grade students and the surprisingly astute insight provided by the academically challenged Tiny Little, helps Steve finally realize that after a serpentine and at times arduous path, teaching is the passion that fuels him.
"Clyde Woolman has painted a true picture of school life.The characters are so believable and the daily experiences super funny. Woolman has really nailed the education system in this novel.” Allan Douglas – Director of Instruction – Elementary.