school days that is, but the memories are still there. When I think about my teaching years, all manner of memories come flooding back...projects, parents, students, good days, bad days, happy and sad days, my triumphs and my failures all are there for the calling up. Memories of each new year are inexorably bound up in scents: the smell of crayons, construction paper, chalk, erasers and new pencils. What could shout "New School Year!" louder than that?
End of the school year memories are much more about what we did, what we learned, what I learned, and the students who were in my class. This post is dedicated to a student I had twenty six years ago.
We had just moved here and I landed a job as a first grade teacher, something for which I was totally unprepared. I'd been teaching nine, ten and eleven year old kids previous to our move. The student I remember so vividly that year was a small, grubby faced, dark haired boy named Ronnie. He had the interesting habit of chewing on his shirt collars so that by October nearly all of his shirts were sporting only the ghost of a collar. To say that he was a character is a gross understatement. It was Ronnie who would jump up, and holding his scissors aloft, shout out, "These scissors are out of control!" It was Ronnie who would lament, "This pencil has a mind of its own." Once after we had spent several days learning about elephants, he charged out of his seat demanding that everyone stop and listen. "Stop, stop! Can't you hear it? The elephants, the elephants are coming!" Some of the class actually ran to the windows to look. Ronnie was no student, but neither was he slow. He struggled with the "three R's", but he was one of the most creative little guys I ever had.
One morning when he walked into the classroom, he sized me up and down and declared, "I told you not to wear that dress. I HATE that dress!"
Me: "But Ronnie, I don't have many dresses."
Ronnie: "Well, why don't you get you some?"
Me: "Well, dresses cost money and I don't have a lot of money. I have to buy clothes for my two boys and I have to buy food too."
Ronnie: Silence, time out to ponder, then, "Well, why don't you get you a JOB?"
Me: Mouth agape, bug eyed, "This is my job, Ronnie."
Ronnie: Incredulous look on his face, a hint of outrage, long pause, "You mean you get PAID to do this?"
Ronnie, wherever you are today, I realize that you are a grown man. I hope you haven't changed dramatically. Of course I hope that your scissors are under control, that your pencils are obedient, that your shirts are sporting fully intact collars, and that you have a son equally creative, unique and wonderful as you were so long ago in my classroom. I hope that there is a Ronnie clone in your family circle, although, somehow I think God shredded the blueprints when he created you.