On McCourt's first day as a teacher, a fight broke out--which ended when a student tossed a sandwich in anger. McCourt picked up the sandwich and ate it. For the next three decades, his calm demeanor and stories of difficult childhood in Ireland helped him connect with his students. He grew as a teacher and as a person, developing new techniques to educate his students. But he also became disillusioned with public-school bureaucracy, and what he has to say about it will enlighten everyone.