Day 2 — The Beginning of Knowledge
Today is officially, National Teacher Appreciation Day, in the week-long celebration of Super Great Teachers all across the nation. If you happen to be one of those individuals being hailed this week, you still have time today, to visit one the participating restaurants celebrating teachers — enjoy a FREE LUNCH,on them.
Elementary school was always fun for me. There isn’t one specific teacher that really stands out in the first four years of my education, though. I do remember loving all my classes and teachers and I have great, vivid memories of the schools I attended: their names, classroom layout and grounds.
My thoughts about this stage in life usually led me back to remembering classmates and school yard games, like jack stones, jump rope and hand-clapping/rhyming games. I grew up in the City of Orangeburg in South Carolina, where there were several stages of school. In the 1970’s, there were two 1-2 grade schools (no kindergarten when I started), two 3-4 grade schools, two 5-6 grade schools and two 7-8 grade schools; then everyone converged on one high school, Orangeburg-Wilkinson.
I loved the large grassy play-yard of Marshall Elementary, where I started 1st grade. It was vast to my thinking, and the wild verbena covering the fenced-in, yet open space, made me feel like running and playing in a meadow. My imagination soared there, sitting in the violet hued perfume of childhood. I daydreamed of the future and made up storied about what I would become.
I remember 3rd grade at Whitaker Elementary and the extremely long walk the entire school took to Claflin College for the most adventurous thing I had ever done in my life, to this point. We saw a stage performance of The Wizard of Oz at one of the art buildings on the school campus.
I recall walking on the side walks of the Hwy. 301 By-Pass, single-file, feeling very brave. As we enter the campus, I remember admiring the tall buildings and dreaming I would attend college when I got older.
I didn’t know what the word culture meant, yet, but later would credit this experience as when I became aware of the meaning and fell in love with the arts. It took so many teachers and administrator working collectively to pull off this feat. I wish I could remember the teachers who put that together. I would thank them, each, for a memory I hope I never forget.
I remember my 4th grade home room and science teacher, Mrs. Ryder. She is the first teacher to really stand out for me. I shared with her my hunger for learning and she fed me a bellyful of information, covering so many topics and subjects, like sprinkles on sugar cookies. Her class was arranged in a wonderful floor plan. There was the area for our desks and the blackboard, of course, but the back half of the classroom was divided into a home setting on one side and the environment (as she called it) outside your home on the other.
As we earned good grades in her class, we got extra activity-time to spend playing in those areas if we had finished our work. We were encouraged to bring in empty food boxes and cans, so that our grocery store sold groceries. We did so many hands-on experiments (it’s where I first learned to make model clay). We pretend — lived and worked — in that half of her classroom, unaware she was preparing us for lives outside of school. She was just so inspiring. Mrs. Ryder helped me see how important a good education was to a good future and ultimately, a good life.
By the time I got to middle school, my mom remarried and we moved to Harleyville to live, where I now call home. School was different in this small town. Everyone from 1st grade through 6th grade went to the same school, Jenkins Hill Elementary. When you left there, you went to Harleyville-Ridgeville High (& jr. high) until you graduated.
I came to Harleyville in the 6th grade. There, I met a few of the people who I now consider life-long friends. My favorite teacher then was Mr. Butler. My mother’s maiden name is Butler and it made me feel like we were connected, even though they were not related. I liked his system of teaching. He used his “Butler’s Bucks” to encourage us to pay attention, study, and make good grades. In turn, once a month, he opened “Butler’s Emporium,” where we could spend our dollars for small prizes he had purchased himself.
He was a super teacher, but very stern in class; a loveable grandfather figure outside of class. This was near the ‘end of days’ for paddling in school.
He had a surgical taped, double ping-pong paddle, with holes drilled in it. His system was make good grades, earn money based on the grades. Act up in class, pay for the mistake with your “Butler’s Bucks” or face the paddle for the number of licks the misbehavior charged. I once had to take the swat because I had spent all my money at the monthly sale. I remember wanting to cry, but toughening up and holding back, reminding myself that it was me, after all, that was too chatty in class.
I remember these things fondly and they seem to pop in my head sometimes for no reason at all, except to remind me: life is full of lessons; learn fast and hold them in your heart.
For the teacher that knows how to reach students and encourages them to grow, you are more important than you know to someone right now. Finding creative ways to ignite a young person’s imagination and send them into the world eager to take on more can sometimes be hard. Below, are 12 great websites where learning turns into fun. Once again, Thank you! to all the wonderful teachers on our planet.
Every Super Teacher needs a backup plan