Ken Halla was a relatively new high school geography teacher when he got a particularly tough class to teach.
Many of the students were at-risk sophomores who had failed the year before. They were being forced to repeat a class they never cared for in the first place with a bunch of younger kids they didn't know. This didn't make it easy to motivate or engage them.
Making things worse, the school — Hayfield Secondary School in Fairfax County, Virginia — was undergoing major renovations. This meant that most of the freshman classrooms were relocated to mobile trailers during the construction, which was isolating and distracting.