In September Mrs. Brown is hired to teach part-time grade 7 arts at Mitchell Swamp Junior High School (drama, vocal music and visual art). She is responsible for the arts education of two grade 7 classes (one of 23 students and the other of 25) that she teaches periodically during the week. She has taught grades 4-6 for the past 5 years but this is her first time teaching the arts to intermediate students.

During the first few days of school, Mrs. Brown discovers that the students are all at similar levels in the class of 25 while in the other class there are several students falling behind. Upon further discussion with other teachers and some of the students she discovers that most of the students came from the same feeder school and had strong arts education since grade 4 in their previous school. Many of these students attend summer arts camps yearly, have been in several plays (both in school and in the community), and many take private music lessons weekly (mostly piano but some voice). However, in this class of 23 students, there are four students from other primary schools who have had a less comprehensive music, art and drama education and are not at the same performance level.

Despite her efforts to include all students in activities, by the end of October, the four students who were not from the arts school do not appear to be accepted by the other students in the class.

She also discovers that in the same class Jim, who has not been identified, refuses to complete assignments, does not participate in drama or music class stating that it is “gay”, and is disruptive during class. Annie, an English language learner from Japan, also catches Mrs. Brown’s attention. She does well in class and is very engaged in music and art class but sometimes finds drama difficult, especially improvisation, and Mrs. Brown is worried that she may not always fully understand the assignments and instructions.