In third grade, I had the beautiful and lovely Mrs. W. (She is still teaching today so I choose not to use her full name.)
was is a kind and caring woman. I learned this more and more as I grew up.
While Mrs. W was on maternity leave, my best friend, Jess, and I walked to her house to tell her we missed her. She was sweet to us and let us meet her baby girl. We could not wait for her to come back to school.
Mrs. W read us the first book that made me cry: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. She even had the boys sobbing. I remember her getting out extra tissue boxes at the end when (spoiler alert!!) Old Dan and Little Ann died.
My little girl admiration of my perfect teacher grew into a respect and friendship I did not expect.
I had the pleasure of working with her for 3 years about 10 years ago. She still taught 3rd grade and I was the intervention teacher. Even though she told me to, I was never able to call her by her first name.
While she was, by no fault of her own, “old school”, she was willing to try things I suggested and she was accepting of all students. Her softness had changed somewhat, as she longed for the old days when she could “just teach” and not be held to such high standards. (I do not mean this in any disrespectful way – just that times have changed so much for teachers who began their careers in the 70s and 80s.)
I ate lunch with her every day. We talked about problems. When I was pregnant, I shared the exciting “It’s a boy!” news with her first. She sent me a very heartfelt card when I was on bedrest and she, too, was on a leave of absence. I remember her words, “We are both at home taking care of our babies.”
I still live in the same town as Mrs. W and I see her out and about, usually at one of our favorite restaurants. I still can’t call her by her first name.
Lesson learned from a 3rd grade teacher: Teachers are real people too.