Charles still hasn’t been able to successfully transfigure anything, not even in his second term. I know he’s been using a hand-me-down wand, it’s too large for his hand and it’s got a nick on the tip and he’s got two older brothers, so it doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to figure that one out. (Sometimes I wonder if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle knew a wizard without realizing it. Sherlock always seemed to have a few unexplainable abilities.)
I asked Charles to stay after class yesterday so I could talk to him about his progress. I’d already asked the other professors about him, so I know he’s doing poorly in every class that requires wand skills, though he’s quite bright in subjects like history. We had a bit of a chat about the importance of working hard, and preparing for first-year exams, and I finally got him to tell me that his wand was secondhand, though he insisted it wasn’t causing him any trouble.
He was so embarrassed, and I didn’t understand it, because it wasn’t his fault. It was his parents’ fault. They had sent their son to school inappropriately equipped, as if he were the youngest son in a fairy tale.
I immediately wrote his parents a letter, informing them that their lack of care was inhibiting their son’s progress in school, and that they needed to remedy this problem immediately or he might not pass his first-year exams. I was very proud of that letter, actually. It made me feel like a real professor, making sure every student got the education they deserved.
Professor Dumbledore was waiting for me in the owlery.
“There’s something I need to tell you about Charles Biggles’ family,” he said. He explained that the family was not able to afford a new wand for their third son; the Biggleses lived in a two-room house in a small village and had trouble getting food on the table most days.
“Charles Biggles’ father used a secondhand wand,” he said. “Now his son does. I do not think you really want to send that letter.”
Now I was the one who was embarrassed. I hadn’t even considered it. There were always students who didn’t have pocket money for sweets at Hogsmeade, but I hadn’t ever thought… well, I didn’t send the letter.
Instead, I took Charles with me to Diagon Alley and bought him a wand.
I’ve decided to start saving some of my salary in a special account to help students like Charles. The ones who need new wands or Quidditch brooms or a cauldron that doesn’t have a rust spot on the side. Being a good teacher isn’t just about what happens in the classroom; it’s also about making sure everyone I teach has the chance to do their best work.