Thursday, September 15, 2011


The best thing about sixth grade was being the oldest students in the building. I walked to school and soon Sherri(I looked at yearbooks and saw that's how she signed her name)also joined us. We stayed after school to help our fourth grade teacher with her room, cleaning the blackboards, actually green, and talking. We talked and talked.
She commented on the mix up of the abilities of the students this year. When we were in fourth grade, she stood at the front of the room and called out figures and functions, as she finished, someone had to blurt out the answer. I think Greg Morrison always answered it first or Nancy Nych. Well, all the kids were pretty quick. I think I was first once in a while. Now, we were mature sixth graders, former students, allowing more freedom.
This was the time I think teachers had more freedom. I visited a woman today, who taught third grade around this time-1972. She first described her display the scholars made for the ocean, then she showed me three faded pictures of the "aquarium" they fashioned, "all to scale," mackerels, whales, dolphins, sea plants. I thought of how Mr. Oakes always had a forest in his room, as we slipped by in the hall, peeking in his window. Sometimes we got to go into his room for movies together.
One comment on my sixth grade blog talked about another sixth grade teacher. I didn't have her, although I got to know her later in high school because she was friends with the school nurse and we gathered in the nurse's office. Mrs. E gave the author of the comment a book at the end of the year. She remembered all her students, even years later after I was an adult, she recalled our names.
Back to my fourth grade teacher who was upset at not having the brightest kids, years later, on orientation for a home health company with my friend, Jeanne, a trip to house was planned. Jeanne told me the name of the patient and some medical history and I exclaimed, "Oh, she was my fourth grade teacher! She didn't like having the slower kids."
As soon as we walked into the door, she hadn't even noticed who I was, she said,"I had the worst nightmare last night. I was in hell with these kids who wouldn't listen or try to learn." I glanced at Jeanne and slightly smiled,"Didn't I tell you?" We laughed afterwards in the car.
This teacher introduced my sister to Laura Ingalls Wilder and so, me, too. Diane wrote a letter to me on my first month in fourth grade reveling in the joy of the Little House books. She didn't read them to our class, but I read them and still love Laura's simple style of writing. As I saw where Mrs. M. lived, I thought she lives in a little house book. A stove took up the dining/eating room, a galley really for the kitchen, and this is where they spent their time. She had a modest living room, that looked seldom used. A bedroom on the ground floor where she and her husband slept because stairs were too hard, as they got older. A son lived on the homestead, they had dairy cows. It was just how I imagined Laura's home to look.
What heritage these teachers passed on to us. They taught us so much more than the basics. We sang fun songs to help us learn history and danced the Virginia Reel, that was in the fifth grade. They inspired us.
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