Study Guide

Mrs. Stricker in Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

By James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts

Mrs. Stricker

Mrs. Ida Stricker is the vice principal, which means she's "pretty much in charge of every breath anybody takes at HVMS" (1.10). Rafe sees her as Sergeant Stricker, the super-tough cop questioning him about all his rule-breaking activities. This lady is bad news.

But, just like Rafe's other teachers, Mrs. Stricker isn't really out to get Rafe or be a jerk to him for no reason. Sure, as her name suggests, she's super strict. But to be fair, Rafe is breaking tons of rules. Right in front of her. It's not like she can really let this stuff slide. Mrs. Stricker has a reputation to uphold, too.

Sure, she hands out detentions and punishments and is pretty exasperated with him…because she thinks Rafe has the potential to be a nice kid. She honestly doesn't get why he's being such a troublemaker. Seeing the Operation R.A.F.E. notebook explains a whole lot.

Mrs. Stricker and Rafe do have one really neat moment where they kind of see each other outside of their student/teacher roles. It happens when Rafe is in in-school suspicion and he makes the photocopied mask for his face:

She looked down at the mask (it was just a piece of paper with a string, really), and her face started getting all weird. Her eyes squinched up. Her cheeks got kind of twitchy. At first I thought something was wrong, but then she just burst out laughing […]

Now, I don't know if you can appreciate this without actually knowing her, but getting Mrs. Stricker to laugh is like getting an octopus to stand up on two legs. And maybe juggle with the other six. As far as I know, nobody's ever seen it happen in the history of HVMS. (50.9, 11)

Yup: vice principals are people, too. They even laugh sometimes. Imagine that. In this moment, Rafe finally sees mean ol' Sergeant Stricker as a person. Maybe she might even actually be trying to help him a little.

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