Crazy? They’re actually saying that I’m crazy. Insane. I have never felt crazy. I knew what I was doing every moment of every day. I wanted to do what I did.
But my nephew says that if I want to live, I must convince everyone, especially the judge, that I’m crazy. No, insane. He said not to use the word crazy. He said that will convince everyone that I am rather than that I am not.
He said that if I want to live…..do I want to live? Do I care enough about living to attempt to convince anyone that I’m insane? That I didn’t know what I was doing?
I’ve never lied so blatantly before. Sure, I’ve done what they’re accusing me of. It’s no accusation, nor is it speculation. I did it. I did it all. I just never told anyone beyond Phil and Lauren what I was doing. If anyone else had ever asked, I would have told the truth.
I guess I’m going to have to fire my nephew as my lawyer. He won’t listen to me when I tell him that I don’t want to use the insanity defense. What good is it to pay to lawyer, even if he is one’s nephew, if said lawyer won’t listen to what his client, even if she is his aunt, wants.
So I am going to tell you, dear reader, everything. I will not lie. I will tell you the whole truth and nothing but the truth and ask you to be my jury. If you feel that I am insane, I will allow my nephew to follow through with his defense. If you agree with me that I am not, I will take the penalty the judge metes out with my head held high.
In spite of what you’re going to read in the following pages, I would like to start by saying that I am not a mean, cruel, or even vicious teacher. I love my students and I truly love my job. I know I was born to teach. It is the gift God Himself bestowed upon me. I do it with all my heart. The best part is that I get to teach what I love to do outside the classroom: reading and writing.
I am not insane.
Angry? Yes. Insane? No.
But I will leave that for you, my reader, to decide.
I am going to ask your indulgence as I begin by telling you a little more about myself before I begin with the part of the story I am sure you are most anxious to hear.
My name is Hannah Walsky. I was born in Ohio but moved to eastern North Carolina when I was in kindergarten. My dad worked in a factory as a tool and die maker and my mom was an administrative assistant. From the time I could understand words, I knew they wanted me to go make something of myself when I grew up.
Even from a very young age, before I was even in school, I knew I would grow up to be a teacher. I played school in my family’s bathroom. I would play in there for hours, teaching my students. I even had names for all of them.
I was a good student, As and Bs with a C or two thrown in here and there, mostly in Science classes. I easily got in to East Carolina University where I did both my undergrad degree in English Education and my graduate degree in English Literature. I loved school as a young girl, as a young woman in college, and as a teacher.
I married my husband within a few months of my finishing college. We left for Missouri almost immediately where he attended the college of his choice. While there, I worked odd jobs while he went to school.
When we came back to North Carolina, he got a job in Alexander County where we moved in 1997. We have been there ever since. He is a teacher and bus driver for the high school. I subbed at the county schools until I was hired a few years later at the community college in the neighboring town. I have been teaching at the college for thirteen years now. I love my job and I love my students.
I have one son, Jared. He is eleven and in the 6th grade. He is extremely smart and is hoping to grow up to be a counselor. I’m obviously very proud of him.
I have one sister and one brother. My sister is married and has two kids: a cocker Spaniel named Phoebe and a black lab named Kayla. My brother is married and has three kids, a girl and two boys. My parents are both retired and enjoying their new life-style very much.
As far as just a brief background goes, that ought to do it. Any other information you need to know about my past, beyond the story I’m about to tell you, will come out in the telling.
I will leave it for you to decide whether or not I am crazy. No, I must remember to use the word insane, as that it the word the court uses.
Am I guilty? Of that there is no doubt. I did it. I know I did it. The only question for you to answer is whether or not I did it all knowing what I was doing. It is my understanding that the focal point of the definition of insanity that the court will try to determine is whether or not I was aware of what I was doing while I was doing it. If I was aware, I am not insane. If I wasn’t, I am insane.
Before I begin my story, I would like to ask you to with-hold judgment until you have read to the very end. If you judge me based on only a portion of my story, you will not be making a true and accurate judgment. I simply ask that you read all the way through before coming to any decision.
I guess my story really begins while my husband and I were living in Missouri. My mother and I came to call it “Misery” as it truly was a place of Misery for me. I couldn’t get a decent job and the jobs I did have, had nothing to do with what I’d majored in while I was in college. I was miserable. We attended several different churches; I never felt that I fit in. My husband made a lot of friends in school, but none of them carried over in to our married life. He did make friends with several other married men and we all tried to get together, but none of the other wives and I ever really connected.
We tried. We were friendly when we’d all get together. One wife and I even walked together as often as we could. Sadly, though, even she and I didn’t connect enough to establish a true friendship.
I began to feel that others were looking down on me and laughing at me behind my back. I quit going out of the on-campus apartment except to go to work. I hated being other people because I felt they were judging me. I ate, a lot. I could sit in front of the tv, watching random shows, eat a whole bag of hot fries (not the snack bag, but a real bag), and a whole 2 liter soda. Sun drop was my drink when I could find it. When I couldn’t, most anything else I could get my hands on would do.
By the time we moved back to North Carolina after my husband graduated, I was putting an awful lot of faith in being back in North Carolina to get me out of my slump.
I did perk up. For a while. But it didn’t last. The first few years we were in Alexander County, my husband was working full time and I was only subbing part time. I hated it. We didn’t have any kids yet. I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t get a full time job doing what I knew I’d been called to do.
And I couldn’t believe my husband had been able to get a job so easily. Especially considering the fact that he struggled throughout school. He was, at best, a B/C student while I’d always been an A/B student with only a C thrown in here and there—all through school, for both of us. I had to write several of my husband’s papers while he was in college, for heaven’s sake! The only reason he did so well in college was because I organized his notes, wrote his essays, and helped him study.
Yet there we were, in the ‘real’ world and he got a job immediately—and he loved it, his students loved him, and the administrators thought he was God’s gift to the county school system—while I was stuck as a substitute teacher. And everyone knows that students hate substitute teachers.
I kept putting my application in whenever and wherever I could. I tried. I really did. But I just couldn’t get anyone to hire me full time. I interviewed at every school in the county, even at the elementary schools even though my degree was in teaching high school English.
I became even more and more depressed. It got so bad, I began ignoring the phone or just saying no when the schools would call me to sub. I couldn’t face another day going in to someone else’s classroom. I wanted a classroom that was all mine. Students who were all mine.
I began resenting my husband. I was the one who paid for him to get through college. I got him through college. He was living off my generosity, yet not one word of accolade from him. When he won teacher of the year, I knew he’d tell everyone in his acceptance speech what I’d done for him, but he didn’t even mention me. He didn’t look at me while he gave his speech.
I left before he finished. It didn’t matter. We’d started driving separate cars everywhere we went anyway, so it didn’t make a difference to him that I’d left early. He asked me if I was tired. I told him I was, and that was that. Nothing more was said. He put his plaque up in his office at school so I didn’t have to look at it.
By the time Mr. Waters called me and asked if I wanted to teach at the community college, I was depressed and desperate. I grabbed at the job as if it was a life-line. For me, it was. I needed that job like I needed food to eat.
I found out I was pregnant just days before classes started. I was ecstatic. Everything was finally working out for me.
For a few years, I was able to ride that high.
Then Karen entered my classroom. She was a challenge from day one. She was one of those students who appeared to care about her education—at least to the people around her, but in reality, she didn’t do anything to demonstrate that she cared. In class, she answered questions, participated in in-class discussions, and generally let people know how smart she was. Out of the classroom, she did none of the work.
I pulled her aside one day after class and had a chat with her. I knew she was in her last semester and that she needed my class in order to graduate. I told her that if she did a really good job on her research paper, because of her in-class participation, she’d easily pass the class. She wouldn’t have an A, or probably even a B, but I could at least guarantee her a C, a transferable grade.
She agreed that she would give it her best. And that was that.
The students turned in their research papers. I graded them. Karen’s was practically perfect. I was happy for her.
On the last day of class during my office hour, a classmate of Karen’s came to my office and asked if she could speak with me privately. I told her that was fine and she closed the door. She proceeded to tell me about how Karen was laughing at me behind my back because Karen hadn’t done anything all semester, she’d bought a paper off the internet, and she knew that I was going to pass her.