Dusting off the cobwebs of my memory

August 20, 2010 at 7:51 pm 5 comments

Do you remember all your teachers’ names?

I do.  Which I know officially seals my place in the nerd hall of fame.  The thing is, I have a talent (or curse, in some instances) for remembering names and faces.  I can see someone after ten years and pull the name from the deep, dark, cobwebby halls of my brain.  I can’t, however, remember to turn lights off or which taquitos Brad likes from the grocery store or what day of the week it is somedays.  But I can list in order the names of all my grade school teachers.  It is a useless, brain-space-sucking ability.  Which is why I write about it in my blog.  Because where else am I going to download this information?

Not that you care, but let me dissect my recollections of my grade school teachers specifically and grade school in general, in chronological order:

Mrs. Hittle, kindergarten. I don’t remember much about her class.  My memories of Mrs. Hittle are based more on her role as our catty-corner-across-the-street neighbor than as my teacher.  Dan & I use to make baskets with lilacs and put them on her doorstep on the first day of May, or May Day.  We hung out with her grandchildren sometimes when they came to visit.  Other than that, my only solid memory of kindergarten is her assessment that my scissor skills were sub-par.  Dear Mrs. Hittle, it’s been thirty years and I still have problems cutting on the lines.

Ms. Pease, first grade.  Ms. Pease is somewhat shadowy in my memory.  You see, she wasn’t at TGS long – only two or three years, if I recall correctly.  I do remember that she was young, and pretty, and the first person I ever referred to as Ms. instead of Mrs.  Later, it was her vacant classroom that was filled by one of the best teachers I’ve ever known: my mom.  The only thing I can say with certainty about first grade is that this is the year my love of reading blossomed.  I think it was also the year the Book-It program started.  Remember Book-It?  You could earn a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut for reading a certain amount of books.  Ms. Pease wrote our name and book title on a piece of paper shaped like a foot, and stuck all the feet on the wall in the hallway outside our classroom.  I read over 300 books that year.  That’s a lot of pizzas.

Mrs. Brice, second grade. I like to think I call a spade a spade, or in this case a battleax a battleax.  She was old, she was cranky, she was ready to just be DONE.  Somehow she liked me.  My brother, however, was not so lucky two years later, and second grade with Mrs. Brice was a miserable year for him.  This was the year I was introduced to the THEAT-UH, when I was cast in the starring role of the annual second grade play.  This was probably the genesis of my need for the spotlight.

Speaking of battleaxes, let me introduce you to Ms. Carr, the librarian.  She was like Bea Arthur with a super-extra-dose of testosterone.  She lorded over her library with an iron fist, and many of my classmates came under her very-strong-thumb.  I never had run-ins with her, mostly because I was a library rat and she had a fondness for readers.

Mrs. Broomfield, third grade.  Mrs. Broomfield was always a fave teacher of mine.  She let me work ahead in the math book to keep from getting bored.  She also cast me in the lead role of the play, in which I believe I played a teacher named Miss Louisa.  (I suspect my casting in both the second and third grades was less a testament to my acting ability and more an indication of my weird talent for memorizing lines.)  Mrs. Broomfield encouraged me to write my first “book,” a little story that she bound into a book.  I still have it in my keepsakes, a yellow-construction-paper masterpiece entitled, “The Puple Gorilla.”  That’s not a typo, I just forgot the “R” in purple when I created the book.  25 years later and she is still there, teaching down the hallway from my mother.  I see her from time to time when I drop in.

Mrs. Long, fourth grade.  She seemed old by the fourth grade, but then, don’t all teachers seem old when you’re in elementary school?  I recall the worksheets about the states that we did every week.  I also recall the look on her face when Jason somebody-or-other pushed over his desk in a fit of fury and fled the classroom, leaving the building through the double doors right outside our classroom (gasp!) and heading for the playground.  She seemed dumbfounded that anyone – especially a tiny 10-year-old – would unleash that much fury in her class.  He may have been what pushed her over the edge; I think she retired not long after.

Mrs. Turner, fifth grade.  I believe every student has one school year that is an utterly miserable experience.  This was that year for me.  Not only was I awkward Amazon woman compared to the other kids – I hit 5’8″ that year and grew boobs – but Mrs. Turner and I could not find common ground anywhere.  It was a long year.

Mrs. Taylor, sixth grade.  I went from someone who didn’t get me at all to someone who understood my love for reading and words.  She introduced us to a book I loved at the time – Peppermints in the Parlor, maybe?  (That’s the name that’s popping into my head, anyway.)  She cut me some slack when she caught me reading a book during her lessons.  She coached me in the spelling bees and encouraged me to participate in as many as she could.  She always used to dismiss her classes in the same way.  Tally-ho, anyone?

Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. Hopkins, Mr. Wallace, Mr. Waltman, Mr. Coffman, Mr. Bacon, seventh & eighth grades.  Mrs. Taylor ditched sixth grade and moved up with us to teach middle school English.  Mrs. Hopkins was a lovely, soft-spoken, very practical woman who taught math.  Mr. Wallace was our first science teacher, an incredibly knowledgeable old man who retired midway through our middle school experience, and died not too long after.  He was old school, and his classroom was a dictatorship, not a democracy.  Mr. Waltman was our second science teacher, and subscribed to the theory of PLR (path of least resistance) teaching.  Mr. Coffman, history, was a giant man who once threatened the piss out of Ryan Fritchman after Ryan stuck a pencil down my shirt and then tried to go in after it.  Mr. Bacon taught gym and still bears more than a passing physical resemblance to my father.  The two of them have been confused frequently when my dad has visited the school.

Somehow, they all shaped me – good and bad.  Some of them are still teaching, some have retired, some have passed on.  My memories of grade school, of course, are colored not just by my teachers but also by friends and sports and learning and my own growth and development.  And I will remember them all.

PS: A late update: How could I forget Mrs. McWilliams, music?  She indulged me when I wanted to sing a solo in music class, and she formed my early experiences of singing in a group.  She even forgave me when I threw up – off the back of the risers – in the middle of our North Street Singers performance in the fifth grade.  (With apologies to the rest of the singers, especially Bradi, who caught some vomit on her shoe.  Sorry.)


Entry filed under: Life in general.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Abby  |  August 20, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Mrs. Sherry Engels- Kindergarten, most amazing experience, I hope my girls have a similar experience.
    Mrs. Marge Tiner- 1st Spunky lady! Would send me (only me) postcards from her summer vacation to Colorado and would let me read aloud to the class, and would play Tom T Hall
    during our quiet times (ever heard of “sneaky snake” or “I love… little baby ducks”?)
    Mrs. Margo Funk-2nd blurry
    Mrs. Yee- 3rd would read “Henry’s babysitting service” to us
    Mrs. Marion Beck-4th would keep her kleenex stuffed in her shirt sleeve, sweet woman.
    Mrs. Gail Kohls-5th challenging I remember being so scared of her, but then ended up loving her.

    Thought I would share in this little trip down memory lane. BTW, LOVED peppermints in the parlor

    • 2. amymanatee  |  August 20, 2010 at 8:29 pm

      I’m certain my mom would know several of these teachers – she tends to know lots of them from El Dorado, too. Thanks for sharing!

  • 3. Michelle  |  August 20, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    I thought I was the only nerd out there that could recall all of their teachers from kindergarten on. Of course my school years were split between Salina, and 3 different Wichita/Towandat schools from 86 to 95. Anyhow, I am still in touch with my 3 rd grade teacher, Mrs. DeForest. I loved her and wanted to be her pen-pal when we left Salina. That was 24 years ago!!

  • 4. Inspire. Create. Bake.  |  August 25, 2010 at 7:23 am

    I’m pretty much the opposite. I’m not very good with names and don’t remember half of my teachers — except for Sister Gertrude in first grade. She wasn’t very nice. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your memories.

  • 5. Chase Callahan  |  August 31, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    *chanting* nerds….nerds…..nerds…..nerds…..nerds…..nerds….nerds…………………..NERDS!!


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