More Thoughts on Elementary Teachers

Last week I told you about some of my elementary teachers. They were all special women and I’m so glad I was in their classes. This week, here are the rest of my elementary school teachers to whom I owe special thanks.
I loved my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Kilcrease, the most. She influenced me more through the rest of my school days—even my life—than the others. Hers was the first integrated classroom I was in, and she was the kindest teacher to all of us I’d ever seen. She made sure we were integrated in the classroom as well. We all sat in the back of the room at one time or another. We learned to diagram sentences, and took timed tests on our times tables. She read Caddie Woodlawn to us, one of my favorite books. In the corner of the classroom was a small library where I read most of the books. I especially remember reading You Are There on the Oregon Trail. I was fascinated by that book, and it’s ironic that Hubby and I have lived along the Oregon Trail during our lives. I think of her and that book when I visit sites along the trail. She taught us about different people who lived all over the world. One day in class, Mrs. Kilcrease told us that we would see Hailey’s Comet someday when we were in our 30s. She said she might not see it since she’d be in her 80s, but she hoped she would. Many years later, as Hubby, our children, and I looked at Hailey’s Comet in the night sky, I thought of her and hoped she was looking at it too.
I don’t remember the name of my first fifth grade teacher, but she was a small, older woman. Her voice was so weak that she had to use a microphone to be heard. We were not a rowdy class. She just had no “teacher’s” voice volume. If we were good during the day, she’d let us get up and tell jokes using her microphone. What a thrill that was! Our classroom was right next to the train track, and our lessons were sometimes interrupted by a train going by. We’d try to count the cars, but most of the time, they went by too fast. During the year, her husband died and we had a substitute teacher for a long time. We were glad when she finally got back.
We moved to Colorado during fifth grade where I was teased for talking “funny.” I don’t remember my teacher’s name there, but I remember her kindnesses to me. She had once been an artist for Walt Disney and I, wanting to be an artist, found common ground with her. She chose me as two of her students to do special paintings that she helped us with. The other girl did a landscape. I chose to do the life of Christ. She tried to talk me out of it, but I was determined to do it. I divided my canvas into three parts and painted the nativity, Jesus preaching, and His crucifixion. A very odd choice for a fifth grader, but I’d been traumatized by the move and I guess I needed a source of comfort. I don’t know what she did with that picture, but I don’t have it.
We moved again that summer and I went to a new school in sixth grade. My last elementary teacher was Mrs. Workman, a short, stout, short-haired woman who was tough. Starting a new school brought another round of teasing and it took a while to find a friend. My classmates played four-square and I’d never played before. Sixth graders are not too keen on explaining the rules to new people. I played on playground equipment that would NEVER be allowed today. We could get really hurt on it, but we played on it anyway. Mrs. Workman read Where the Red Fern Grows to us. I think we all cried at the end. She also read us Hound of the Baskervilles which scared me. Funny how I remember the books we read and not much else. The second grade teacher at the school taught girls how to knit during recess. I brought in needles and yarn and learned the basics of knitting when not riding on the hazardous playground equipment.
There you have it. My elementary teachers who taught me to read and write and a lot of other things. I owe them so much. They helped me through personal and social changes. I started when they could read the Bible to us and our classrooms were integrated. When I finished elementary school, they couldn’t read anything religious and students of every color were in the same classroom. The classrooms were a microcosm of society, and they guided us through it.

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