Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saving Face

My high school reunion is coming up, and that got me thinking about... elementary school. Yep. Elementary school. (How's that for a non-linear thought pattern??) Which got me to thinking about the teachers I had there. Several of them stood out in my mind, each for a different reason, and I'd like to tell you about them.  It would make too long of a post to cram them all into this one, so I'll highlight a different one each day.

My elementary school was in town. At that time, open space schools were all the rage, and that's what mine was. We had a fenced-in blacktop playground with no playground equipment - but we did have painted lines for hopscotch and things like that. Our building was several floors high, and it had this really cool open central stairwell that ran top to bottom, with lots of windows. Two of the floors held the main classroom spaces, and each floor was called a pod. When I first went there, the higher of the two pods was for grades K-3, and the next one down was for grades 4-6.

The earliest teacher I remember was from second grade. Her name was Mrs. A–.  She was so calm, cool, collected, and most of all, caring. I loved being in her class. As she passed out our last report cards for second grade, she told us not to come up to this pod next year, because third grade would be moving to the lower pod.
I didn't give school a shred of thought until three months later, when the bus dropped me off for the first day of third grade. Walking slowly through the school's entry doors, I thought back to what Mrs. A– had told us, but wasn't sure I trusted my memory. I started to climb up the stairs, until I got to the landing between floors. There I stood, rooted to the spot, my gaze switching between the familiar pod I'd always gone to, and the ominous Big Kids Pod. 

Finally, I went with what was comfortable, and continued up the stairs. Halfway there, I heard someone call my name. I looked up, and there stood Mrs. A– at the landing for the upper pod.

"Hi, Kim," she said brightly. "You must be coming up to check on your little brother, right?"

Crud, I am going to the wrong floor, I thought. I could feel my face heating up as I nodded feebly.

"You know, I just saw him, and he's in his new Kindergarten room - happy as a clam. Why don't you go on ahead to your pod, now." She gave me a very warm smile and a reassuring nod.

"OK.  Thanks," I said.  As I turned around and headed downstairs to my new pod, I saw a bunch of my classmates looking up at us.  They were all headed to the right pod.

Thank you, Mrs. A–. 

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