Friday, August 29, 2008

It Happened in the Third Grade

The year I was blessed by the woman I now consider "My Favorite Teacher."

We didn't move much as kids; as a matter of fact, the apartment my family moved to when I was 9 (my brother was 3) is where my mother still lives today. From kindergarten through second grade, I attended William Ramsay Elementary.

Third grade marked my first year at Weyanoke (which translates to "Land of the Sassafras" in some particular native American language that I never managed to pinpoint) Elementary. My assigned teacher was Mrs. Anderson. While my actual memories from that year are embarrassingly blurred by time, I do remember looking at all the posted sheets taped to the school's front windows -- scanning for my name on all the class rosters.

Clearly, as a "new kid," I knew the reputations of none of the teachers, but for some unknown reason, simply learning her name brought reassurance. (Which was welcome, seeing as in the school district I had just departed, they taught cursive in the third grade. The school I was entering taught it in the second.)

Mrs. Anderson's classroom was traditional. One-piece, books-go-under-your-seat desks were lined in four vertical front to back of the room rows. Windows looking out onto the playground were along the left side of the room. And thankfully -- ever so thankfully - atop the front of the room chalkboard was an oversized border of the upper and lower-case cursive alphabet. (Ogling that capital "Q," I remember thinking that it was the prettiest "2" I'd ever seen!)

As far as the day-to-day academic rigors in Mrs. Anderson's class, my recollections are few. What I DO remember vividly -- and cherish to this day -- was that every single day after lunch, Mrs. Anderson would sit in a rocker (not behind her desk) at the front of the class and would read aloud for at least an hour. Every student -- the most raucous of boys, the most socially precocious of girls -- sat silently, paying rapt attention. She read from a book called Jack Tales...the stories of a wise-cracking boy we imagined to be of our own collective age, who was clever enough to save his own backside amidst all sorts of scrapes. And she read Laura Ingalls Wilder. Each and every one of the Little House on the Prairie series. Aloud. Every third grader was enthralled. A pig's bladder as a balloon. A stick of candy as a Christmas present. A fiddle-playing Pa. Family. Neighbors. The joy of finding happiness in the most perfunctory of activities.

In retrospect, Mrs. Anderson, with her grandmotherly calm and caring consistency, demonstrated daily how reading can help us find not only common ground as a group, but as individuals, to partake in some grounding moments of personal peace.

Mrs. Anderson's first name? Missouri -- the very same name as the "Show Me" state.
How grateful I am even today for the things she took the time to show me. Now let me go scour Amazon for the Jack Tales...

Take a moment as school heads back into session to think about those teachers that impacted your life for the better...and go share those appreciative thoughts on Laura's Catholic Teacher Musings. Here's hoping that Mrs. Anderson, surely by now residing in her place of great reward, has internet access...

PS - We had a flood here a few years ago. Wish I could share my third grade class picture with you, but sadly, all my photos and yearbooks were lost. Waaah.... What was saved was my paperback collection of the Little House on the Prairie series. My mom brought 'em down for my kids on a recent visit. All is far from lost!
post signature

15 comments:

Laura said...

Oh. I love Mrs. Anderson too.
She was a classic.
I had one or two "Mrs. Andersons" as well.
Thank you for posting this.(As I wipe my eye.)

Terri said...

Mrs. Anderson sounds wonderful!
So sorry to hear you lost all of your pictures!

Tracy said...

What a wonderful tribute...

I lost all my yearbooks this past spring when our crawlspace flooded. Boo. And my mom gave away my collection of LHOTP books years ago (the nerve!)

Fun to remember "the days", isn't it?

Giovanna Diaries said...

She sounds like the best teacher ever! Little House...every book! Awesome!
I'm sorry to hear about your flood. We went through something similar when we first moved into our house....and since we were just settling in, of course, lots of boxes were down there and ruined.
Sucks!

Sara said...

I too have the paperback collection of Little House books and cherish them. I thought briefly of selling them on ebay when I needed money, but couldn't bring myself to do it.

the schirano triplets said...

oh wow, what a wonderful post! it really is making me take a trip down memory lane....

Lisa said...

What a teacher after my own heart. My favorite teachers were all "bookies" too! God bless Mrs. Anderson!

Laura's Husband said...

The Megaphone?!...what of the TJHS cheerleader megaphone? Did it survive the flood?

Jenny said...

I also loved those teachers who'd read to us or let us read. I think that time, which some would argue was wasted, was actually some of the best spent. It teaches kids to entertain themselves patiently with a book rather than watching TV or playing video games, and indirectly teaches them to use their minds.

Renata said...

What a great teacher! I love the fact that she read you house on the prarie & even the boys enjoyed it - must get a copy & read it to Zai & Ellie.

Bia said...

Any teacher that reads Laura Ingalls Wilder out loud to the class is special. And that cursive Q? I still think it looks like the number 2!

Blessings, and have a wonderful weekend.

TONYA said...

It's amazing what you remember from childhood. What a wonderful memory to have.

Reza eda said...

Omg. I had miss Anderson for 4th grade and Ms. Palmer for 3rd amazing. Ms. Anderson read us Jack Tales and Lil house books also. Amazing teacher.

Reza eda said...

I had Ms.Palmer for 3rd grade and had Ms. Anderson for 4th. I also remember her reading Jack tales and the Lil house series. They are my favorite memories along with Ms. Tolliver reading roll of thunder hear my cry.

Reza eda said...

Omg. I had miss Anderson for 4th grade and Ms. Palmer for 3rd amazing. Ms. Anderson read us Jack Tales and Lil house books also. Amazing teacher.