Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Writers Workshop: The one who made a difference

This week's prompt:

Who have you forgotten about until right now? Think hard and list five people from your past that you really should have written something about by now but haven’t. Circle the name of the person who stands out the strongest. Write a description or brief memoir of that person.

I'm cheating on this one this week, kittens. You see, I'm writing about my second grade teacher, Mrs. Werner. She's someone whom I should have written more about on the blog before, but never had the chance to.

Until now.

I think about Mrs. Werner every now and then, but when I do, I get incredibly nostalgic. Out of my years of schooling, second grade stands out as the best year of my entire educational career. Allow me to describe the ways:
  • She made all of us in her class feel like we were family.
I realize that sounds rawther cheesy, but it's true. We all really loved each other. We teased each other every now and then, but her class truly was a bully-free zone--a remarkable feat for any classroom. And she loved us; she made time for each of us during the day, and even at her busiest, she always had a chance to talk to us. She'd eat lunch with us occasionally, in the lunchroom. She'd twirl the jump rope for us.
  • She celebrated our differences and made us appreciate ourselves for who we were.
We had a blind student in our classroom, and Mrs. Werner took the time to explain to us that, just because the student could not see, doesn't mean we should exclude her from anything. And the student never used her disability as an excuse for anything. After a few weeks, we totally forgot that Bea was blind.

But it was the little things, too, that mattered. I was the only kid in my class with naturally curly hair, when it seemed that everyone else was either blond or had these cute, straight hair pixie cuts. Mrs. Werner made me appreciate my curls. Same thing with the one boy in the class who had red hair and freckles. It may seem insignificant now, but for two kids who didn't look like anyone else in the class, it made the world of difference.
  • She turned me into a reader.
And not just any reader--a reader. Up till second grade I was into the skinny paperback picture books. Mrs. Werner introduced us to chapter books--real, big kid chapter books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte's Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan. She would set aside time during the school day to read to us, and often, we'd get so into the book that we'd bring our own copies into the classroom, and she'd have us take turns reading different paragraphs. It got all of us so much more into reading than ever before.
  • Even after second grade, she was always there for me.
I'd go visit Mrs. Werner's classroom after school as I got older, either just to say hi, or whenever I had a problem. She always made time for me, regardless of how melodramatic my situation was. She encouraged me, supported me, and listened. Most of all, she listened.

Mrs. Werner moved to another state when I was in sixth grade. I was devastated when she left. A few years ago I tracked her down and wrote her a long, long letter, but sadly, never heard back. I hope she received it. But most importantly, I hope she knows what a difference she made in my life. For she took a kid who really disliked school and herself, and made her see the potential and intelligence that she had inside herself. To me, that's more valuable than any lesson learned in the classroom.

I still miss her.


Missy B. said...

What a beautiful story! I enjoyed it.

Jenners said...

Wow ... what a great teacher. I'm so glad you wrote to her ... it is a shame you never heard back. It is amazing how much difference a good teacher can make.

Jodi said...

What a lovely tribute you did for her. I had a teacher like her once too.

Missy B. said...

Happy Friday Kitten!

There is an award waiting for you at my blog!

Jeanne C. said...

Hi, I'm a new follower and I love your blog! I gave you an award over at my blog A Cup of Tea and a Cozy For Me.
Have a great weekend!