Tag Archives: school

Like Father Like Daughter

Sometime in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s Paul’s mother recieved an unexpected from the school nurse. It seemed that everyday as he walked to school little Paul managed to get himself quite filthy. After numerous days of showing up to school dirty and unkempt the nurse decided to pay a visit to his home to see what things were like there. She of course found Paul’s mother rather surprised (and a very clean home to boot) and Paul’s mother found out that her little rascal was goofing off on the way to school. We still joke about the story.

***

I just walked in the door and was working on getting dinner ready. We are expecting the missionaries for dinner this evening so I was putting a roast in the crockpot when the phone rang. I washed my hands and answered the phone, motioning for Emily and Jacob to keep it down.

“Hello?”

“Hello, this is — the school counselor. I was calling about Dorothy’s shoes.”

“Dorothy’s shoes?” I was very curious as to what was happening to Dorothy’s shoes.

“Yes, she said that she had to wear her little sister’s shoes today because she doesn’t have any-”

At this point I began laughing and she broke off, then continued. “Ahh, I see you are laughing. So she does have shoes that fit?”

Midst gales of laughter, “Oh yes.”

“She said they were all lost or too small.” The counselor was chuckling herself now.

“Actually she didn’t even tell me this morning that she couldn’t find her shoes, and I didn’t bother to look at her feet. She has an issue with putting her shoes away sometimes, they are probably in her bedroom, its rather messy.” (It made total sense to me, she would much rather cram her feet into tiny shoes than clean her room looking for ones that fit, heh) I was broken off by a piercing scream from Jacob. “Oh, sorry, that is my son, he screams when something is funny, I promise I am not torturing him.”

More laughter, “No, no, I can tell it was a happy scream. Well I just wanted to check because we do have money that we can use to help out if a family is in need of such things.”

“No worries, I appreciate you checking. And now I will check to be sure which shoes my daughter is wearing when she leaves.”

The counselor also mentioned that Dorothy was very proud of the fact that “my feet don’t hurt one bit!” and described that the shoes looked so tiny and when she felt them her toes were all bunched up at the end. I took a moment to run backt to the school with a pair of shoes for Dorothy – of course they are a very worn pair of shoes, so it may not raise the counselor’s hopes much. 😉

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Filed under Children, Dot, Humor, Parenting, Things Kids Say

A Valentine for Dot

“Look at what my teacher wrote,” were Dorothy’s first words as she came in from school on Valentine’s day. With her arms full of small valentine cards witht he latest cartoon heros and candy entincing her toddler brother’s chubby fingers she rushed to me where I was juggling a fussy baby, and trying to do dishes while making dinner at the same time. In the corner of my eye I saw a red paper heart that she was thrusting eagerly toward me.

I wanted to look at it, I really did, but we had company coming that night and I was up to one elbow in dishwater and the other in tomato sauce. And a frantic baby to boot. It was really rotten timing.

“I want to look at it, really I do Dot, but can you show me as soon as I am done here and sit down to feed the baby.”

She looked slightly dissapointed, but I could tell she understood. The problem was that we both forgot. A few days later my husband asked me if I read the Valentine the teacher gave Dorothy. I felt color and dismay flood my face as I realized I had forgotten all about it. “You really should read it,” he told me.

So, read it I did. I was expecting the usual trite “Happy Valentine’s Day. You’re a great kid,” kind of message. Not that the teacher wouldn’t take time to make it personal, I just know how busy teachers are. I think that is why I was so amazed as I read Dorothy’s valentine. It wasn’t a trite message. In fact it was a sweet, endearing, and acurate message allauding Dorothy for all of her good points. (this was especially great because Dorothy sometimes has a hard time making good choices and gets scolded rather often, so pointing out all the positive is HUGE) I was in awe. Not about the things that she had written, or that she had noticed these amazing qualities of Dorothy’s – I already knew that. I was in awe over the fact that a teacher who is incredibly busy took the time to write a personal and acurate message to my child. But, my awe didn’t stop there. I knew that she wouldn’t write such a message to only one child in the class, but that she would have painstakingly written a message to every child in her class – all 23 of them. That is a lot of hand written personal messages when you think about the time she would have poured into them with all the other things she has to do.

That means a lot to a parent. Especially this parent. It means that this teacher cares about her students as individuals and takes pains to let them know they are of value. I feel truly fortunate that our Dot has such an amazing teacher.

I took the time to read the valentine out loud with Dorothy and the glow on her face was as bright as the sun.

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Filed under Dot, Education, Parenting

What Kind of Mark Will You Leave?

“Over here is where we put finished homework! And this is a graph of who has brother and sisters, who only has sisters, and who only has brothers! This is a picture I drew of myself, and this book is all about me!” Dorothy raced from one side of the classroom to the other, eager to share with us all she could about what she was doing and learning at school. I watched her teacher smile and laugh. The pleasure shone in her eyes, I could see how much she loved teaching. We have had her for three years in a row now. Elizabeth had her for kindergarten and first grade, and now Dorothy has her for first grade. What a difference I noted from my first grade horror.

*****

My teacher was older, crotchety, rather plump and seldom smiled. Looking back now, I think she had lost the love of teaching. Her name was Mrs. Falbo, and she had suffered years of abuse as insensitive students had called her Mrs. Fatbo. I’m sure they never called her that to her face, but I am also sure she had heard talk in the halls and cafeteria. The assignment was to color a picture of pink pigs. I was so careful to be sure to use realistic colors, as this teach would never approve of something like Technicolor pigs in a world of green sky and blue grass. I tried so hard to stay in the lines; my fingers ached with tension as I controlled the small crayon. When I had finished, it was practically perfect, I had only crossed the boundaries once or twice in my efforts to color the perfect picture.

Always excited to please I brought my picture to my teacher with all the fervor of a 6-year-old seeking the encouragement only an adult could give. I sucked in as she took the picture from my hand, her frown deepening into the furrows of her face. “You colored outside the lines.” Her voice was matter-of-fact; an essence of ‘I don’t care’ hung around her words as she crumpled up my paper in front of my eyes and tossed it in the trash can. “Do it again.”

I bit back tears as I heard the snickers from other kids in the class. I wouldn’t let her see me cry, not ever. Crying was for sissies and wimps. I didn’t tell my mom about it for a long time. And she began to wonder why I hated school, and why over the next two years my grades continued to plummet.

*****

At one point I switched schools and stepped back a grade. That is when I found the teacher that would change my life forever. Her name was Mrs. Trinch and she taught 3rd grade. My mom spent hours working with me and catching me up to where I needed to be, tutoring me after school, but Mrs. Trinch was the one that taught me learning could be fun. She taught us to spell e-n-c-y-c-l-o-p-e-d-i-a to the song in “Pinocchio” because it was such a long word, it would impress everyone with how smart we were. I still remember her placing her hands down on the chalkboard with her back to us and wiggling her bum to the rhythm as she chanted, “You change the ‘y’ to and ‘i’ and you add ‘es’!” I remember getting the first ‘A’ in math ever, as my poorest subject turned to one of my strongest. I had hated reading until her class when she opened my eyes to the wonders contained in the most exciting books. It was then I realized that I wanted to be a teacher.

*****

When I reached middle school we had moved across the country to Oregon. In 7th and 8th grade I discovered another teacher that would open a new love in my life. She taught us language arts and focused a lot on creative writing. I never knew much about writing stories, though I often had them rolling around in my head. She discovered my writing and encouraged me to write stories, and inspired in me a love to write. Her name was Ms. Mac and she is still teaching, though this year she is taking a break working in the district office. I saw her at the beginning of the year, and told her that because of her, I still write.

*****
Over the years I have encountered many good, and a few more bad, but there are only a few that have left a mark on me that will last through the years.
I once heard a parent say that most children are resilient and can survive even the worst teachers. I thought about that, I survived, but only with my mom’s help, and because she took an active role in changing my atmosphere. Last night as I talked with the girls teachers and watched their excitement in their classrooms, showing me every little thing they could. I smiled inside. Seeing them so happy makes me happy that they are enjoying a far better start than I did. It makes me grateful for the teachers that made a difference in my life, and for the teachers that are making, and will make, a difference in my children’s lives.

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Filed under Children, Memory, Philosophy