Another timed write: 10 minutes.
First there was Miss– oh gosh! I can’t even remember her name. I do remember going back to my old kindergarten room when I was in high school and being surprised to find that her hairstyle hadn’t changed since I was five: highlighted, light brown, teased up in an 80’s crown. She was wearing blue eyeliner. She asked me if I had graduated from our elementary school yet. I said I had, four years ago.
Then there was Mrs. Bloom, and she let me write my first book report. It was on Sarah, Plain and Tall. That’s it for my time with her.
In second grade, I was cursed with having Mrs. Marchese, who hated second graders. Every morning she posted a math challenge that I could never figure out and handed out marshmallow peeps to anyone who could solve it. My best friend Ashley Erickson always got a peep. I maybe got one twice, and every morning I dug my pencil into the page and made very small, mean tears. She once got frustrated with our class and shoved all her papers off her desk onto the floor and made us pick them up. She also gave us timed multiplication tables every Friday. If we got 100% correct in a minute, the following Monday she’d buy us a slice of pizza. I felt so stupid in her class. I never did get my slice of pizza.
Third grade was much better, with Mrs. Alexander. She was black and thin and had very long fingernails. She let me sit with students who needed help with their reading.
But it was fourth grade that changed my life. Mrs. Glazeroff made me fall in love with learning through my imagination. She read us Harry Potter and The BFG, and we got to make 3-D maps of Stone Fox. I showed her the story I had written–the most delicious story I’ve ever written, in fact, at least in how it felt to write it–and she told me it was very, very good. When I won the district spelling bee, she hung a banner with my name on it over the classroom door. Mrs. Glazeroff suggested to my parents that I and my brother might benefit from private schooling, and then the next year moved to Texas to retire. I never heard from her again, and to this day I think she was the one who inspired me to teach.
Fifth grade was pretty good, too. Mrs. Larson was funny and attractive. One time a kid named Jovanni went into her desk without permission, and she said, “Jovanni, you’re not allowed to go into my drawers!” and then turned beet red and said something awkward and laughed a little. I had no idea what she was saying. In Mrs. Larson’s class we read Holes and we always groaned when we had to put our books away. She didn’t get mad at me when I read ahead and couldn’t place where the rest of the class was. I think it was also in her class when I developed a huge ego trip. I remember returning from a school music lesson, bursting through the classroom door, sighing loudly and exclaiming, “So, what are we up to?” The principal was sitting in the back of the class, doing an observation. She just looked at me. Mrs. Larson just looked at me. She told me to come sit down. I was totally mortified.