This post is a little different in that instead of honoring someone who has passed away, I’m choosing to recognize someone who is alive and well as far as I know. Yet they still had some influence in the world of reading in my life.
The summer before I entered third grade, I was a ball of worry. Which teacher’s class would I be placed in? In our small little rural school, there were only two options: Mrs. G or Mrs. C. Mrs. C was to be faced with fear and trembling. Her gravelly voice shook the seats we sat in, and you could very well be bawled out just as much as the troublemaker was by being in as close association with him as in the same music class. I even remember whole grades being kept in from recess by Mrs. C because of the antics of one or two who misbehaved. Lunch period’s collective student noise was not allowed to excess beyond a measuring device’s certain level, never mind that Mrs. C’s voice alone could set off the buzzer.
I suppose Mrs. C really wasn’t the worst teacher out there. Somehow my sister entered her class, lived to tell about it, and actually came out with some fond memories of her. But being of a highly sensitive nature, I knew I wouldn’t make it through Day 1 if fate dictated I received her as my teacher. So it was with great relief when I learned I would be placed in Mrs. G’s class.
Mrs. G was the opposite of Mrs. C in every way. She was young and fresh out of college, creative, –not to mention pretty to look at. She wore beautiful dresses from department stores and had a youthful, fun energy that made learning fun. I was never one who liked school, but I actually looked forward to it when I had Mrs. G as my teacher.
It was around the time I was 8 yeas old that I progressed from reading little kids’ books to chapter books (other than the Little House on the Prairie series, anyway). Johnny Gruelle’s Raggedy Anne series were among some of my favorites. “Charlotte’s Web,” by E. B. White was also a firs,t in that it was the first I got so emotionally involved in the story that I cried (even though I’d seen the cartoon version and knew what would happen).
One time I got sick and had to be off school for about a week. My mom went to the school to pick up some prescribed homework that Mrs. G had planned out for me. But she didn’t just send home schoolwork; she also sent with my mom a whole stack of books that I could read at my leisure! I barely remember the titles of them anymore, but I do remember deciding to read the first page of each one to decide which to read first.
One of my favorite memories of Mrs. G was when she read to us a chapter from a fiction book every day. She read a couple of different books, but the most memorable was “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” by C. S. Lewis. How we loved that story! We looked forward to the next day at school so we could hear the next ‘episode.’ Mrs. G would turn off the lights and then stand by a window or the doorway for light to read by. For some reason the darkened room helped to make for a more dramatic atmosphere, and the theaters of our imaginations were free from distractions. I think she got into it just as much as we did. I later read the book for myself and highly enjoyed it, but there was something about experiencing the story altogether as a class that made it special, I think.
One day Mrs. G was sick and couldn’t come to school. It may have been a Friday and we couldn’t bear the thought of having to wait an extra long weekend until Monday to hear what was going to happen next to the Pevensies. So we asked the substitute teacher if she would read it to us. It was the part when Peter, Susan, and Lucy meet Father Christmas and receive their special gifts. For some reason, it just wasn’t quite the same when she read it. And the only time I ever saw Mrs. G mad was when she came back the next week and found we’d already read her favorite chapter of the whole book without her!
Mrs. G also tried to read us one of the Goosebumps books by R. L. Stine, but it was so disturbing that Mrs. G couldn’t handle it. So we moved onto other, more wholesome stories.
My teacher inspired me in many different ways. I was also encouraged by her attendance at my dad’s funeral several years after I’d moved on from her class. Mrs. G will always be a bright spot in my memories of my schooldays.