Visiting Plainview Elementary a few weeks ago, Rochester Washington Elementary before that, and just a couple Fridays ago, Longfellow, got me thinking about my grade school teachers. I can't mention just one, so...

Mrs. Ryan, my kindergarten teacher with jangily bracelets. She sang the horrible "Clean Up Time!" song. I hated clean up time, but loved the snack time that followed. Oh, cruel childhood.

Mrs. Lambroux, first grade. Had ZERO patience for anyone that wouldn't do the pledge, but was very very patient with Roger when he kept eating the paste.


Mrs. Knudson, second grade. She gave me the love of the stage and a hate for math. First, we put on a play and I was the star. I even memorized lines! Then, when we were learning math, the question was ___ + 2 = 4. I was confused and mad I couldn't figure it out and her help was, "You should just know it!" (in all fairness, it was probably a long day and I just might have asked a million questions, but still, I like to blame my math hate on this episode, as it shields me from blame). This was the year of The Great Student-Teacher Angel Anger Scene, but I'll save that for another day.

Mrs. Stern, third grade. She loved the way I read aloud, and had us do cross stitch. The castle I 'made' looked horrid (except for the week I was sick and a girl did some for me...that part looks perfect). The name of the story I read to the class is gone, but the feeling of excitement is still in my heart. Oh, and she had us make autograph books for the end of the year, then we signed each others. In high school, I made valentines out of mine (for the ladies, of course).

Mrs. Bullock, fourth grade. Smelled good, was beautiful (very important to a 4th grade boy) and, if we behaved, she read to us each afternoon. "How to Eat Fried Worms", "The Thanksgiving Treasure", "Blubber" and a few others. We're friends on Facebook and I cherish the memories and our adult friendship.


Mr. St__n, fifth grade. Not my favorite. He used to say to a heavy kid, "Hey...go sharpen your pencil so we can see your butt shake." There were many other, worse things he did (not to me...I flew under the radar, baby!), and my mom tried to get the school board to fire him. I longed to be next door in Mr Nason's class...they were always doing cool stuff, building paper mache birds, making books...stuff like that.

Mrs. Louma / Mr. Kail, sixth grade. Mr K. was the school principle, so he split the class with Mrs. L. She took the morning, he the afternoon. She did the hard subjects, like math, and he did the fun ones, social studies and history (later, I learned that a lot of my classmates thought I had it backwards, Mr K taught the hard classes). Mrs L. was very nice, but I didn't like the work. I struggled through the tough stuff knowing the last part of the day was always going to be good. He was so interesting and easy to understand. And peaceful. That man never raised his voice. I imagined him going home for dinner where he and his wife have great conversations.

Then Mr K. died. Right in the middle of the school year. A few of the girls wore black and I thought maybe they were overdoing it a bit. He was just a grade school teacher. But as the year went on, I realized they understood immediately what it took me more time to figure out. No one is just a grade school teacher.


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