As the school year begins around the country, I was thinking about my years in the public school system and the many interesting and enlightening experiences I had in school.
My sister and I moved to Decatur and started attending Riverside School when my sister was in first grade and I was in fourth. I loved my teacher, Miss Fay Cole, and I thought I was quite the musician when she had a teacher come from the high school to teach us to play the Tonette. The Tonette, in case you are not familiar with it, is a more sophisticated version of the Kazoo. Fourth grade was also where I began reading the Betsy and Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace beginning with Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown. I never dreamt that some day I would be writing my own blog from the town of Deep Valley!
In sixth grade, my teacher was Mr. Strickland and he was lots of fun. Many afternoons he would say:
Do you want to do science or would you prefer to square dance?
The answer was always the dancing, and I still remember how to d0-si-do and allemand left. This skill would be in great demand if I ever decide to return to Southern Indiana.
Junior high brought the most wonderful science teachers in the world: Mr. Fritz and Mr. Howell. I was dying to learn about science and these two men brought it to life for me. Junior high was also where my friend Mary wore a music box charm bracelet to school. She would turn it on until the teacher noticed and then quickly turn it off. The teacher moved about the room hoping to catch the culprit. Finally, she realized it was Mary, and she was sent to the principal’s office where she was told never to wear that bracelet to school.
High school was so exciting since Eisenhower High School had only graduated a few classes ahead of ours. In ninth grade, I took Economic Geography with Miss Bower. Miss Bower was quite the character. She even pushed a metal grocery cart around the school to get her materials from one classroom to another. I was sitting behind John Rea when Miss Bower decided to show us the difference between a cloth and a textile. She pulled her skirt up over her chest and face and said:
This is a textile. It is printed on both sides.
For ninth graders in a co-ed classroom, her little illustration was nothing but embarrassing. When a few people giggled, Miss Bower said:
What’s wrong with you? Haven’t you seen a woman’s slip before?
Finally, I have to mention my English teacher for senior year of high school: Miss Velma Ogg. There was a toy out that Christmas called “Odd Ogg” and the jingle for it went:
Some of the students in her classes may have repeated that refrain, but I was not one of them. I adored Miss Ogg. She would speak in such a low voice that one had to strain to hear what she was saying. She often played records of Shakespeare’s works and she would begin by turning her back on the class and cleaning the record with a Kleenex. She taught me to write a research paper and she pointed out that “serious people do not use orange ink. They only write in blue or black.”
Many times during my teaching career, I have thought of those wonderful teachers and the way they handled their classrooms. God bless them everyone. Please leave a comment about a teacher you found memorable.