• Published 15th Jun 2021
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Back to School - Coyote de La Mancha

Along with being Princess Twilight's apprentice, Sunrise Shimmer hopes to become Ms. Cheerilee's teaching assistant. The first day is often the most challenging.

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Chapter One: Meeting Everypony First.

“All right, everypony settle down please,” Cheerilee called happily.

The foals before her didn’t become silent, by any means. But they became quiet enough that they could listen without too much distraction… which was perfectly reasonable for a first day.

“Alright now. Everyone have a good summer?” she smiled.

The students buzzed for a few minutes with an assortment of answers, quickly veering off into a series of small conversations throughout the room.

“Well, your first assignment will be to write down something you did during vacation, and to tell us about it,” Miss Cheerilee said, drawing her students’ attention once again. “But before we begin, I have a little announcement to make.”

The foals exchanged puzzled glances. A few looked curiously at the cloaked mare standing near the door. Was she the parent of a new student? She seemed kind of young, but that didn’t mean much. Maybe a guest speaker? Or maybe she was here to announce a special project?

Silver Spoon’s eyes narrowed in pleasure as the class buzzed.

“Somepony’s in trouble,” she whispered with quiet satisfaction. “And the year just started.”

While the mysterious mare crossed behind her, Cheerilee continued, “Everypony, this is Sunrise Shimmer. She’s going to be acting as my teaching assistant for the day.”

Speculative whispers continued to spread throughout the room as Sunrise reached the coat stand behind Cheerilee’s desk and hung her cloak there. When she emerged from behind the desk, the whispers burst into a chorus of gasps.

Then, silence.

Sunrise Shimmer stood before them, a knowing smile on her face. She smoothed the side of her red-and-gold mohawk, ear hoops shining in the sunlight. Under normal circumstances, any one of these might have elicited at least some curiosity from the students assembled there.

But casting all such minor details into shadow was the newcomer’s flank, completely devoid of any cutie mark, despite her being obviously in her late teens.

All the students, save for the Cutie Mark Crusaders, stared.

Sunrise took a breath.

“Okay, so,” she said. “Questions?”

Almost every hoof shot into the air.

Still smiling, Sunrise nodded to herself. Yeah, she thought. Here we go.

Later, after about twenty minutes of questions and answers, Miss Cheerilee gently took control of the class again, and the day’s lessons began.

First, there was geography. Which of course led to more questions, since Sunrise was from so far away. After Cheerilee’s discreet nod, Sunrise continued to answer questions, keeping things as truthful as she could within the vagueness that she had sworn to. She reminded the disappointed foals that (as she’d explained before) she’d been born far away from Equestria, that she’d actually arrived by magic, and that Princess Twilight had asked her to not talk about the spell that had brought her… at least, for the time being.

Of course, her own ignorance of Equestrian geography was also a perfect excuse to ask the schoolfoals questions in return, which led to one of the most enthusiastic oral geography quizzes in pony history.

And then there followed health class, which Sunrise found as fascinating as her students. Basic brain and eye structure were one thing. Hoof structure, however, was another. Unfortunately, they were just starting that year’s lessons, so they barely got past the book’s introduction. Sunrise made a mental note to find the book Cheerilee was teaching out of in Twilight’s library and start reading ahead.

Also, Sunrise found herself quietly fascinated by the students themselves. There seemed to be several different age groups in the small class, but apparently that was normal. It was simply understood that the more advanced students were to help the younger ones, or just any foals who were struggling. And the teacher (and her assistant, Sunrise reminded herself with a smile) was there to help everypony, and make certain that the self-appointed tutors had the guidance and the backup they needed.

The whole setup reminded her of Anne of Green Gables. Only, somehow, more deliberate. As though every class had been systematically structured to continue teaching and honing soft skills throughout a young pony’s education. Was that Twilight’s influence, she wondered? Or had pony culture always placed friendship in such high regard? Not for the first time, Sunrise found herself wondering how her life might have been different if she had been born on Equus instead of Gaea.

Then, The Maths reared their ugly head.

Sunrise did her best not to wince when Cheerilee announced math period. Mathematics had never been her favorite subject, growing up. Partly, she admitted to herself, because of just how mind-crushingly dull the subject had been. But more than that, it had been the perpetual, hostile impatience of teachers and tutors in whatever school she’d been in for that year.

It had been that way with most subjects, of course, throughout her truncated education. But math had always been the worst. Eventually, she’d learned to just shut down and let the lessons pass her by. Only later, when she’d been on her own, had she found out about learning disabilities and used that knowledge to catch up on what she’d missed.

Now, helping the schoolfoals with their own studies, she realized just how rusty her own math skills were. She’d always assumed that her own studies and determination had filled in any gaps in her education. Obviously, that theory hadn’t applied to math.

Which made sense, she supposed, since the math portion was the only part of the GED she’d really had to study for. Apparently, it still hadn’t stuck in the long term, and she found herself wondering what else she might have forgotten.

Finally, it was time for recess. The students galloped out in a small herd of cheers and laughter. Meanwhile, Cheerilee sat at her desk, pulling out the notes she’d prepared on the next few periods and the homework that had already been turned in.

For her part, Sunrise exited just behind the foals. She and the older mare had discussed the possibility of her watching the students at recess herself, with Cheerilee keeping a semi-eye on things through the window while doing other work. Apparently, Ponyville’s teacher had decided Sunrise could handle it.

Grinning to herself, Sunrise watched the students quickly come to a consensus, grab a small red ball and start dividing into teams. A bunch of colts and fillies playing ball for twenty or so minutes, and all she had to do was supervise.

This part would be easy.