A novice fifth-grade teacher embarks on a clandestine love affair with another teacher, which sets her on the tumultuous path of self-discovery.
It is 1963, one of the most turbulent years in American history. The escalating tensions and conflicts in society at large are playing out in classrooms, principals’ offices, and school boards across the country, along with the first stirrings of social transformation, though the past still holds its suffocating grip. And behind the closed door of the teachers’ room in one small Midwest town, two teachers set eyes on each other and find it hard to look away.
Karen Murphy, fresh from college, has taken on her first teaching job. Despite her best efforts, she can’t seem to stick to the subjects in her fifth-grade school books, helped along by the antics of a girl who upends all her lesson plans. She has a lot to learn, and her women colleagues are there to offer their advice, especially the enigmatic fourth-grade teacher, Esther Jonas. As Karen quickly discovers, the devoted spinster teacher with no life beyond the classroom is a myth—the school is teeming with passion and secrets, her own perilous desire for Esther Jonas included.
The Teachers' Room offers both a panoramic view of a changing America and an intimate portrait of the hidden lives of teachers.