Friday, June 5, 2009

Three, Four, Shut the Door (Part 2)

Fourth grade found us in the new addition at school, but instead of getting in the cool teacher's class, I found myself separated from my best friend (who had gotten in the cool teacher's class) and I was placed in Mrs. Heywood's class.  She was another older teacher who had been in the school system for a long time.  So while the other class was creating artwork out of aluminum foil and wax, we were doing math worksheets and English drills.  After my third grade year with Mrs. Shockley at the church, this was quite a letdown.

I did my work, listened to Mrs. Heywood's old voice and pretty much marked time that year,all the while wishing I had a younger, cooler teacher.

Then came Valentine's Day.  We had each drawn names for a Secret Valentine and brought our presents to school.  We were all very excited about the event and placed the presents on a table up front at the beginning of the day.  The name of the recipient was on each package, but the giver's identity remained secret. I scanned the table at morning break and at recess, but couldn't find one that had my name on it.  I did a quick mental roll call and knew everyone was there.  The entire day we all waited for the party and for the exchange of gifts, but I kept wondering where my present was.

It was time for the party.  Mrs. Heywood started calling out the names and each person went forward to get his/her present.  I sat, about to cry, but then was surprised to hear my name called.  I went up and got the package that had not been on the table earlier--a neatly wrapped package with Mrs. Heywood's writing on it.  I opened it and found a coloring book and some crayons, not exactly the cool present I had hoped for, but I was grateful not be left out.  I looked around the room. People were up and moving about, revealing themselves to their secret valentines. 

Mrs.Heywood came up to me and said, "That's from Carl, dear."  I looked over to see Carl, our developmentally disabled student, sitting in his chair, staring out the window.   Besides having severe learning disabilities, Carl also had family problems, and came from a very poor family. 

Mrs. Heywood, that teacher I had discounted because she was old and conventional, also had the experience to prepare for all contingencies.  She, of course, was the one who had bought and wrapped the present for just such an event.

That year I learned something about myself and my own prejudices.  From Mrs. Heywood I also learned lessons that I carry into my teaching today: be prepared, think ahead, and make sure no student is left out.


Suse said...


Bossy Betty said...



Bossy Betty said...
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