A Year on the Brink
A Year on the Brink recounts a year in the life of veteran middle school teacher, Randi Jacobs. Month by month, September to June, the day to day challenges of trying to live a balanced life, while striving to remain a consummate professional, are intertwined with the issues besetting public education and the dramas and traumas, both large and small, of often misunderstood and underestimated early adolescents. Set in the affluent coastal community of Manhattan Beach, California, the plot ebbs and flows, revealing both the struggles and joys of a dedicated classroom teacher who is gradually coming to the realization that it may be time to retire.
Along the way, administrative styles are explored as are legal obligations impacting the classroom teacher, some as seemingly simple as taking attendance and others as complex as First Amendment rights and the administration of the No Child Left Behind legislation. Randi’s energy is tapped as she attempts to meet the divergent needs of individual students, consistently deliver meaningful instruction and maintain quality relationships with family members, as well as lend support to close colleagues – one struggling as a single parent and another with an abusive husband. The year is further complicated when Randi is inadvertently drawn into a criminal investigation by an earnest student who comes to her with a story of an odd citing, made while “Trick-or-Treating” at another student’s home. As May turns to June and the time for indecision passes amid the end-of-schoolyear hubbub, Randi sorts through the components of her life and considers her options in order to come to a final decision.