“I have a word for Jan, and it begins with an ‘L’; ends in a ‘Y’; and has an ‘AZ’ in the middle,” my teacher told the class.
Whoa now! What??! I thought to myself, as I was brought to the center of attention of my 3rd grade class. My 8 year old brain did not even try to put the letters together to see what it was this teacher was trying to tell me. Instead, I immediately blocked the letters from my mind. I thought because she was spelling it, it must be a naughty word; and I would not even let my mind go there. I know that sounds funny, but let’s remember I was 8; I was extremely shy, and I did not like being the center of attention. I also came from a family who would never say (or spell) a bad word. When the class went out to the playground for recess, one of my friends asked me why our teacher had said that.
“I don’t know,” I responded. “I don’t even know what she spelled.” At this point I didn’t even remember the letters she had spelled out, or the order of them.
“LAZY!” my friend informed me. “I got that right away!”
Hmmmm, well, I didn’t. I wouldn’t even try to figure out what it was Mrs. A. was trying to tell me. I was simply embarrassed, and I wasn’t about to try to figure out a word that I assumed was naughty!
I never did know why Mrs. A. thought I was lazy. I never did know why she singled me out like that in front of the class. I must have done poorly on a test or something. One thing I knew: I didn’t feel lazy. But if I didn’t know what the problem was, how could I correct it.
That is as about as much as I remember. I remember my teacher’s tone. I remember where her desk sat in proximity to the rest of the children’s desks in the classroom. I remember about where I was sitting, and I remember exactly where my friend and I were on the playground when she informed me what the letters had spelled. …but I don’t remember which friend it was. I don’t think I ever learned what my teacher’s statement meant. My grades didn’t reflect a lazy student. I received all S’s for “Satisfactory”. That was the way students were graded at that age level. When we got to 4th grade, we received letter grades, and much to my surprise they were all “A’s”. :-) I have a story about that, too…but for later. So anyway, I don’t think the comment was about my scholastic ability. I think possibly she misunderstood my shyness for apathy or laziness. Just a guess.
Now don’t misinterpret why I am writing about this. No worries, I didn’t suffer any deep, psychological repercussions from this situation which would be why I remember it all these years later. No, it certainly isn’t anything quite as philosophical as that...no psyco-babble drama here. It is simply something that happened to come up in conversation the other day when I was talking with my sister, and it was a perfect example for what she and I were discussing. Since this incident had recently been brought to the forefront of my mind, I decided to write about this particular teacher. I have thought about this incident from time to time throughout the years, mostly when I think about the type of instructor my 3rd grade teacher was.
I think I loved this teacher, too. Not in the same way I loved my first grade teacher or my fourth grade teacher…I remember those two with deep fondness. This teacher, I respected because I knew she was a good teacher and I knew she cared about her job, but the truth of the matter is, she did scare me a little.
Mrs. A. had lots of fun lessons for us. She is the one that taught me how to spell Coeur d’Alene, our home town. She used an acronym that I still use to this day…in fact, I don’t think I have ever spelled out that name without using this acronym. "Come On Everyone, U Really Do Appreciate Lovely, Evening, Natural Earth." Yep! I really do still use it. Do ya think continuing to use an acronym such as that one, reveals the lazy side of me that she had somehow observed clear back then?
Mrs. A also used a number of games to encourage us in our studies. One game I actually used for Matthew when he was in 3rd grade. Mrs. A. placed a big yellow moon on the wall, and we would earn a little paper rocket for every book we read. We would tape the rockets to the wall and the first student to reach the moon with their rockets would receive a prize. No, I didn’t win. And by the way, this was before man had set foot on the moon. Now that, I find interesting.
This 3rd grade teacher also introduced her students to Mykey. I never forgot him, either. Mykey was actually her set of keys. MY Key…get it? Just fun little stuff that 8 year olds enjoy…and I guess that they will still remember - 50 years later.
I lost track of Mrs. A. I know she eventually married a man that was one of my 8th grade teachers whom I absolutely loved. He was a gentle man, and I thought the world of him when he taught me history in the 8th grade. Mrs. A. became Mrs. H. and when I learned of this several years later, I was very happy for them both.
All these years later, I have a word for Mrs. H. It begins with an “L” ends with an “E” and has an “OV” in the middle. Oh, and one more. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Or maybe that would be better remembered like this: Remembering Educators Sometimes Plainly Encourages Comical Thoughts.