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Dear Margo

Dear Margo column

Q. In early grammar school, I had an awful teacher. She was verbally abusive, threatened physical violence, and handed out punishments like they were going out of style. She made up cruel nicknames for students, made one girl stand at the head of the class and taunted her until she cried, and had the class pelt the sole Hispanic student with snow and ice. (Those who refused were punished.) As I got older, I learned that every class she taught had similar stories.

I recently found that not only is this woman still teaching, but she now does special ed. I’m horrified. Do I merely hope that she’s softened with age and will retire soon, or do I tell someone? This was 20 years ago, and I have no proof other than my memories, but the idea of Teacher Dearest with pupils even less able to defend themselves than “regular students” has caused me to lose sleep.

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A. What surprises me more than this sadistic behavior toward children is that no child told a parent who then complained to the principal. It is my understanding that a person with these propensities does not mellow with age, but, in fact, the wretched behavior becomes more pronounced.

I would not wait for her to retire, thereby “solving” the problem. Because you write that she is teaching more vulnerable children than when you were in school, I would go either to the principal or to the supervising agency for schools and tell them what you know. They will, one hopes, monitor her and interview the children. In a situation such as this, active is better than passive. You owe this to the unlucky kids in her class.

Q. I am a 30-year-old woman in a large city. I am well educated, financially independent, and have a great job. I have wonderful friends and am close with my family. My social life is active, and I make myself as attractive as possible.

My problem is that it’s been so difficult to find a mate. I have had a few serious boyfriends, with the shortest relationship lasting not quite two years. I’ve been single now for two years. Although I’ve been on dates and meet men socially, I have not found anybody with whom I would want to be in a permanent relationship. I don’t think my standards are too high. I simply want to find a partner who is loving and supportive.

Most of my friends are married, having babies, and buying houses. I would love to have that kind of life and am worried that I’m running out of time. Do you have any suggestions for how to find a like-minded man and to help me stop stressing about being single forever?

A. Given today’s culture, a 30-year-old unmarried working woman is still considered on the young side. From the sound of things, you have a lot going for you. I don’t want to go all Maharishi on you, but try to relax on the subject of men and put the determined manhunt on hold. One thing you could do that would let you feel proactive is to tell all of your wonderful friends and family that you are in the market for a great guy. Sometimes just getting the word out can be very effective. Also, I’m a big fan of affinity groups. And if you’re ever on the fence about accepting an invitation to a party or an event, go!

All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo.

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