Taught

Teaching is the sowing of life-giving, mind-expanding  seed.  May you reap fully from what you have sown.”  -a note to  to Mary Bolton Passwater, a young woman who used to be in the JoyBelles club I led in Kokomo and has turned into a wonderful, beautiful, godly young woman (wife and mommy) who teaches – a most noble life and profession!

Teachers teach us so much.  Maybe not always what the lesson plan was about.  But they do impart things.  Back-to-school time always makes me think of the teachers I had while I was growing up.

Those schoolgirl days, of telling tales and biting nails are gone,
But in my mind,
I know they will still live on and on,

Five Star Rating System for 6 who stood out ~ Mrs. Fuchs, Mrs. Weiland, Miss Petrie, Mrs. S—-, and Mr. McGarry

1

***Kindergarten ~ Mrs Fuchs (pronounced f-o-x, thank-you very much):  She was a very fashionable, perfectly-coiffed 1960s woman with unnaturally blazing-fire red hair – which I spent a good 12 years constantly trying to replicate and still have great zeal for (especially when I see it on my beautiful Stephanie!).

But how do you thank someone, who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try,

 

Me…1st day of Kindergarten;  then second grade

2

*****2nd grade,  Mrs. Weiland:  I adored Mrs. Weiland.  She was so sweet and spoke words of encouragement to me – the first time I remember any adult ever doing that.  When I drew pictures, she’d say, “Wow-you could be an artist someday.”  When I wrote stories, she’d say, “I bet you’ll write books someday.”  I remember her husband stopping by in his Marine haircut during recess one spring afternoon.  They spoke briefly and kissed and we all giggled, peeking through the chain link fence, romantic fancies taking flight.  I can still remember her cute, short haircut and multi-colored frosted tresses.  I admired her so much I once colored a picture of her using at least 6 different colors to create that hair and a classmate paid me a quarter for it, which I promptly spent on penny candy at the corner market.  I wish I still had the picture.  I wish I could tell Mrs. Weiland that I love still art and writing and that her words, her cheering-me-on, made a difference.

If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters,
That would soar a thousand feet high,
To Sir, with Love

3

***3rd grade, Miss Petrie:  She taught me to eschew prejudice based on skin color.  We really celebrated Black History Month in her class and learned so much.  George Washington Carver and Martin Luther King Jr  (who had been slain less than a year earlier) became heroes to me.  She also introduced me to the music of Motown, and o baby – yes!  Still LOVE those Motown sounds!

Each student got to have dinner at Miss Petrie’s apartment during the school year and she led us in a loud, raucous rendition of “Found a Peanut” in the car on the way.  We also stopped at J. C. Penney’s to pick up her cinnamon-colored pantyhose.  And I couldn’t wait to wear pantyhose when I grew up.  I literally spent years in suntan-colored L’eggs Sheer Energy, YEARS!  I miss them sometimes…but not that often.

4

***4th grade, Ms. Lynch: She read to us after lunch.  We’d put out heads on our desks and listen to stories like Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web and Old Yeller.  It seemed we were too old to be read to and hadn’t been since Kindergarten, but I remember it being a lovely, restful, soothing time of the day – to have some one read to me.  I also learned to knit during lunchtime in her classroom.  Knit one, pearl two.  I recently bought some classics I want to read to my grandbebes even though they are learning for themselves.  For, being read to is sweet!  They will always remember that I first shared that story with them…like I do about Miss Lynch.

5

(-*****) 5th grade, Mrs. S_____:  That is a negative 5 stars and the reason I am not saying her name.  I can’t remember her ever saying anything at all to me except to make fun of me once because I loved Danny Bonaduce.  Tsk.  My grandma died in the spring, rocking my young world.  My tummy hurt all the time and it was very important for the desks to remain perfectly straight at. all. times…or she’d straighten them!  I missed 31 days of school that year. No wonder.  A teacher is a powerful person in a child’s life.  But they’re human and may forget that sometimes.  Just hope my grandbebes always have teachers who know their impact, who know their own strength to influence the generations through what they impart, for good or bad.

 

Me…my birthday party during the 4th grade; Mr McGarry and the whole 6th grade class.

6

**********  6th Grade, Mr. McGarry (yes-that is more than 5 stars!).  I was just an odd kid, a preacher’s daughter and I was hitting that awkward age.  I felt unsure of myself and the neat little-girl life I’d had growing up with family around for the first 10 years of my life was over.  We’d moved and I’d started started 5th grade late in a brand new city.  Then we moved again, across town, during my 6th grade year.  I’d have attended 9 schools by the time I graduated when I’d begun so nicely, having been in one neighborhood school for grades K-4th.

By the time I entered Mr. McGarry’s class, I was sullen and lonely.  I didn’t want to start all over again.  It was mid-year and cliques and friendships had been formed.  I’d decided I would just endure it.  He was very gentle and kind.  Somehow, very quietly he got me involved.  He engaged me in conversation, as if anything I could have to talk about even mattered!  Then he acted as a bridge to friendships with other kids.  He helped me become a “patrol” and signed me up to monitor classrooms of the younger kids during teacher’s breaks and lunch recesses.

Somehow in a short time, this wise and all-knowig teacher teacher, who had to be very young himself at the time, made what was sure to be a distasterous half-year then on-to-junior-high way better than just bearable.  I made great friends that year.  I actually had fun.  Academically?  Nothing stands out to me, really (which may not be what a teacher hopes for), but I remember his kindness and respect towards me and all of the other students.  And I know he taught us to respect one another, too.  The classroom was laid-back and Mr McGarry allowed us to arrange our desks as we wished (that seemed crazy wild at the time) and I LOVED game and music days in his classroom, spinning 45s on one of those big, clunky school turn-tables (“Rockin’ Robin” by the J5…”The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) or  while we played Password or some such “educational” game.  There was a dog-eared paperback copy of Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth on Mr McGarry’s desk.  And I remember knowing he really cared if it went well for me.  And he saw to it that it did.

The time has come, 
For closing books and long last looks must end,
And as I leave,
I know that I am leaving my best friend,
A friend who taught me right from wrong,
And weak from strong,
That’s a lot to learn,
What, what can I give you in return?

I went back to visit Mr. McGarry after I’d gone on to junior high, just before we moved to yet another city.  And he told me that when I had first come to his classroom, I never smiled – that is what he remembered about me.  But he told me he was happy when I started smiling – that that is what he’d wanted to see.  That surprised me.  I’d never known anyone before who was concerned with whether or not I smiled.  It absolutely made a huge difference in my life, especially so near the teen years.

Mr. McGarry (Robert McGarry, Buchanan Elementary in Davenport, Iowa 1972) – if you’re out there ~ YOU WERE THE BEST!  Thank-you so much!  I still think of you with fondness, I still thank God for you.  I am sure you didn’t even really know how much your kindness meant to me.  But thank-you for the smile, for determining to help me get it back.  And just so you know – I am still smiling like crazy!

“Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.”

I had a lot of teachers over the years.  I wasn’t able to get to know most of them very well.  My 9th Grade Algebra teacher, Mr. Harper, actually gave me his teacher’s copy of the book because he said I needed it worse than he did!  ;p  I cherish it still!  In it he wrote, “I wish I could’ve gotten better acquainted with you and I probably could have if I’d been sitting in Laurie’s seat,” in reference to the fact that I spent a lot of time chatting with a friend.  Hahhahahha!

But I know that nothing is wasted and for better or for worse, I learned the things I’d need for life from the men and women who chose to teach.  I was taught and I am grateful.

If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start,
But I, would rather you let me give my heart,
To Sir, with Love*

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called “truth.” ~Dan Rather

*LYRICS:  To Sir with Love by Lulu

2 thoughts on “Taught

  1. I ran across this old post on a search for Mr. McGarry. He had a similar impact on my life – I was a very shy kid in the early ’70s whose father had died when I was 9, and I felt completely lost in the world. But I had a a love for science and Mr. McGarry regularly would call on me in class to answer questions he knew I knew, and to point out how bright I was. He also talked to me after class and encouraged me to be a patrol guard. He gave me confidence I otherwise wouldn’t have had which later in life would allow me to have the success I did. He was a gem of a teacher and an exemplary human being!

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