Anyone who’s been to school has a “teacher they’ll never forget.” Mine is Mrs. Lawson, 3rd grade -- the year that Charlotte’s Web sealed my intention to become a storyteller and math finally “clicked” for me; the year my dad died at Christmastime and I discovered that Santa Claus wasn’t real.
Mrs. Lawson was there for my 8-year-old self during a traumatic year, sure. But while life events cemented that year in my mind, that’s not why she’s the teacher I’ll never forget. I know this because she’s universally hailed as the most memorable teacher at every class reunion I’ve ever attended.
Here’s what my classmates and I remember about 3rd grade:
- Mrs. Lawson teaching us to pull taffy and bake rolls so we could learn fractions by measuring ingredients and doubling recipes.
- Mrs. Lawson “sneaking” us past the principal’s office and out of the school building so we could watch the last moon landing on her living room television set a few blocks away.
- Mrs. Lawson not afraid to climb the monkey bars, ride the merry-go-round, or play Duck, Duck, Goose in the snow.
- Mrs. Lawson playing Four Square or jumping rope while teaching socialization, spelling, rhythm, and persistence with every bounce of the ball or slap of the rope on the asphalt.
- Mrs. Lawson, when the bank time and temperature clock read 104 degrees, proving that the sun’s energy can indeed fry an egg on a sidewalk. (Holding up her spatula triumphantly, she whispered gravely as teachers sometimes do when they are trying to squeeze in one more important lesson: “It’s not right to waste food. I’ll just take this egg home for my dog to eat for dinner!”)
Fast-forward to my kitchen this week: My 8-year-old daughter and I are practicing fractions and baking muffins to take to school for National Teacher Appreciation Week. We’re decorating homemade cards to say thank you to all the teachers for all the innovative ways you are teaching our kids and for all the extras you don’t have to do, but you do anyway, including:
- Making house calls the summer before pre-K to drink lemonade and make sure 4-year-olds know whom to hug on the first day of school;
- Carrying reluctant little ones to class and texting mom and dad five minutes later to confirm the tears have stopped;
- Teaching second-graders to write a persuasive letter and to ride a bike!
- Building a chicken coop on the playground, planting a school garden, and starting a honey bee operation to support the kids’ farmer’s market;
- Showing up for weekend soccer games and ballet recitals and a shy kid’s debut ukulele performance at open-mic night;
- Responding to my daughter’s complaining email when you were out sick one day and the substitute was “really mean”;
- Filming the entire school singing Happy Birthday to a former student battling cancer in a faraway city;
- Turning a noisy construction project into a curriculum on architecture and infrastructure;
- Releasing monarchs with pre-kers, taking kindergarteners fishing, hatching eggs with first-graders, traveling to China with eighth-graders;
- Did I mention PICKING LICE?
Thank you, teachers. It may seem like we don’t appreciate all you do, but take it from me (and Mrs. Lawson), you’re teaching us all so much more than you will ever know, and we won’t forget you.
To hear more stories about “teachers we’ll never forget,” listen to this segment of Upgraded by Hobsons:
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