Teacher’s are so important…

Eloise had a tough year last year.  She didn’t connect well with her teacher. She struggled with making friends.

She struggled, she cried, but she made it through. Is it possible to love this girl even more by the way she persevered through it?
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It made me so happy to hear during the past month how excited she was to return to school.  She would say things like “I hope I get a great teacher” and “I hope I have some nice girls in my class.”  She has been hopeful and is now very excited to have the teacher she wanted and on day one is already making some new friends.
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We are all hopeful for a better year for her.  We all know that not every year our kids will get the “best” teacher or even make a connection. We also know that some years are going to amazing and perfect in every way.

I could never be a teacher.  And I have no interest to be. So I always do look at teacher’s with awe that they really choose to spend their days with our kids.  It is an honor really.  So, I always hope they at least remember why they are there when I send my kids off on the bus each day.

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I loved school. I can name my favorite teachers off to you one by one.  My list is long.  I can also tell you quite vividly who my worst teacher was.  I can tell you details of how awful she was to me, and to most of my classmates.  I sometimes wonder how many kids she completely screwed up because she was so heartless.

And she taught 1st grade.
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I had a lot going on in 1st grade. My parents were getting divorced, my mom went back to school to get her degree and took a part time job.  My 7 year old brother and I became card carrying members of the free lunch program at school and I instead choose to not eat rather than show that card.  I was 6 and I knew what it meant.

My brother and I woke up ourselves each morning. Dressed and ate breakfast and walked to the bus stop ourselves.  We came home to an empty house, were allowed to watch Romper Room, Gilligan’s Island or Sesame Street and had to stay inside until our Mom came home at dinnertime.

My mom let the whole neighborhood know we were alone.  Just in case something happened or we needed someone.  The kind ladies who stayed home, would come knock and check on us.  We would watch the neighbor kids play outside our windows and hope we saw our mom’s car approaching soon so we could go play too.
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I would like to think that my first grade teacher,  Ms. Schmidt knew about all of this going on in our lives.  I would like to think that even if she didn’t she would choose kindness over not.

One time, the power must’ve gone off after mom left in the early morning.  When Troy and I awoke we panicked. We knew the clock was wrong but didn’t know the time and were convinced we missed the bus.  Crying, we dressed quickly and knocked on our neighbors door.  We woke them up.  Poor Al was still getting dressed when he met us at the door. We quickly explained we needed a ride to school as we were so very late.  Al, not having any school-age kids of his own, was probably thinking “holy heck do kids start school early” – but he didn’t question us.  He loaded us up in his El Camino and dropped us off at the deserted school building.
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Upon entering the school, we realized we were over an hour early and alone in the school.  Troy dropped me at my classroom. I walked in the eerily quiet room and started making my plan of action. All I could think about was how much trouble I would be in when Ms. Schmidt arrived.  Would she take out her wooden paddle?  Would she slap my hands?  Would she embarrass me in front of the class?  Would she send me to the principals office?

So I hid.  I went into the tiny book-nook in the corner and I hugged my knees, rolled myself into a neat ball, and I made myself as small as possible. As small as one can be in an insulated parka and winter boots.  Invisible I hoped.  And I waited in the dark, dark classroom for Ms. Schmidt to enter the room.
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About a 1/2 hour later, I heard the clip-pity clop of her camel colored mary jane heals coming towards the classroom.  The door opened and the light went on.  I froze and tried not to breath.  My plan was to wait until other kids started coming in and then I would just try to join the group as if I had freshly come in from the hall.  Yes, I was 6, and I needed a plan.

But I couldn’t do it.  I breathed and I think I let out a cry of panic. I was 6 you know.  And before I knew it, Ms. Schmidt was glaring down at me from way above with that look on her face.  The straight mouth, her hands on her hips, fire in her eyes..and she grabbed me and pulled me up on my feet and asked this crying little girl “JUST WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING HERE THIS EARLY???!!!”  And I remember trying to explain about the clock, and my mom being at work, and my brother just trying to help, and waking up our neighbor, and getting a ride to school and hiding in the nook.  But she just pushed me out into the hall and said “I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT. YOU CAN JUST SIT IN THE HALL UNTIL SCHOOL STARTS!!”
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And I think about that day still and wonder why it was so hard for that women, that she could not instead choose to get down on her knees and give that scared little girl a hug and then why couldn’t she have told that little girl that it was okay she messed up.  Why couldn’t she have helped her take off her coat and had her take a seat and given her a sheet to color?  Would that really have been so hard?  And now I wonder why that woman was a teacher at all.  And how many other students of hers can share the same just completely shit stories.  I watched over 1/2 our class get paddled in that hallway.  It was a past-time she seemed to enjoy.

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I hadn’t thought about Ms. Schmidt much until I had kids of my own entering school.  I started wondering if she was still out there.

And while I don’t want to ever become one of  “those” parents,  and even though I know there will be years when my kids don’t love their teachers, I know OH DO I KNOW, I will NEVER, NEVER let them have a Ms. Schmidt.

About Tracy


My name is Tracy Morrison and I live in sunny Minnesota. I'm neither British nor a nun - I'm just a Midwesterner with a headache. This is mainly a humor and lifestyle blog that documents the lighter side of parenting. I am an ex-corporate ladder climber turned freelance writer, social media manager, and fashion expert - and ruler of my own little universe(very small). Aren't we all. I would love for you to contact me at tracy@sellabitmum.com

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  1. melanie says

    Tracy, I may never recover from this horrible tale. Seriously. Reminds me of Miss Booklund, ex-nun, and evil wench from St. P.. where I went. Ack. Super mean, and just as intent to humiliate, but without a paddle. I think at times, a paddle would have been better.

    I will think of this whenever I feel too tired or too cranky to give a kid some extra love.

  2. says

    I had a teacher who would seem to only have been a quarter of who Ms.Schmidt was. But that was enough for me. Thank god we don’t live in those times anymore. At least I hope all the Ms.Schmidts are long gone. I’m so sorry for you six year old self. She didn’t deserve that year. Your story has touched me in another way, as I am concerned about neighbour children who are not in a good situation. I need to make myself more available. Thanks for sharing your story Tracy.
    Dana

  3. says

    When I look back on these days of our difficult time – I truly believe it was what made us the strong individuals we are today. Reading this made me cry all over again. Love YOU and wishing for nothing but happy days for Eloise this year. Mom

  4. says

    This story breaks my heart. It is so hard to imagine that people like that were actually allowed to teach children, and keep their jobs. But I know many of your generation, and mine, with similar stories. Mike’s teacher in first grade was so horrible she was actually de-nunned! I agree with Ginny, everything hard that happened to us when we were young has made us the resilient people we are today, and capable of great compassion for others. Sending a hug your way, and another for Eloise for a wonderful year!
    kp recently posted..recipe box Wednesday

  5. says

    I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face, feeling very petty for memories of my own bad teacher. In no way does my high school physics teacher calling me out as “stupid” in front of my class compare to the deeply damaging memory you have. Your story broke me. I want to shake that woman for doing that to your young spirit. And I want to hold the 6 year old you and make it all better. I can picture my own Annie doing almost everything you described. :(

  6. Amber Collier says

    Jax is having a rough time transitioning to 1st grade and seems to not be connecting to the teacher this year…its only his second year of school and I thought everyone liked my baby! lol. Its so hard on a mom, and 10x harder on the kiddo, however your story of Eloise and her eagerness THIS new year encourages me.
    Thanks for sharing as always :)

  7. says

    Oh my. This was a story worth telling, Tracy. She must have been an incredibly miserable person. Wish we’d gone to the same school. I would have shared my embarrassing hot dog in the thermos lunch with you.

    Our school just got rid of our “Mrs. Schmidt”– parents had complained for years, but it wasn’t until Xander’s best friend came home with bruises around his neck that she was politely given a “retirement party.”
    Michelle L. recently posted..true love

  8. Larissa Warne says

    Oh, Tracy! what an awful story. Shame, shame, shame on Ms. Schmidt!
    Do you remember Mr. Wesseler from high school? He taught senior economics. He called me a bimbo one day–what a prick!

  9. Jen says

    Just wanted to say thank you for your kind words about teachers in general.

    I’m so happy to hear,also, that Eloise’s year is off to such a better start this year!!!!!!

    Your story left me speechless………..I really do think (hope :) that teachers today are so much kinder than teachers were back when we were kids. Teachers today wear so many hats, and know that it’s expected of the job these days, compared to teachers 10-20 years ago.

  10. admin says

    Melanie – I know you are an amazing teacher. I would love for my kids to have you!
    Dana – I loved your comment, maybe see if those kids need some cookies. :)
    Mom – seriously the worst part was the whole free lunch thing. How sad is that???
    KP – My dad tells stories of his catholic school nuns. So glad I did not have to endure that crap.
    Oh Tif – Your comment made me cry. I wish I could go kick her in the shins.
    Amanda and Amber – It is so hard to let our kids lead their own way at school when you know it is hard and the connection isn’t there.ugh
    Michelle -I cannot believe there was still a teacher like that at your school. That is so sad!…and remind me to never pack a hotdog in a thermos. That is embarrassing.
    Molly – you are so sweet. I know it will be a great year. Sometimes I never really understand bad teachers – why did they choose it in the first place?
    Larissa – OMG I love you, you said prick on my blog. :) I do not remember him…but you are right, he is a prick for saying that to you.
    Jen – it is amazing what teachers do today vs. back then. So much. :(
    ..and Jane P – who left me a voicemail instead of a comment. I CRIED so hard listening to your sweet, sweet message. I have saved it for forever. I love you too.
    xoxo,t

  11. says

    I read this story and it deeply touched me and reminded me of my own childhood (the teacher just a little bit, but the free lunch thing and being home alone even more!). Those were some rough things to go through. I felt sooo sorry for you as you were curled up in the coat closet.
    Rachelle recently posted..The Long and Winding Road

  12. tricia duncan says

    What an awful experience for you or for any little kid.
    That teacher should have been fired!
    Famous quote:
    “Some teachers are born to teach
    Some teachers are born and learn to teach
    Some teachers should not have been born”

    Your Ms. Scmidt fits in the latter category.She is a disgrace to our profession.

    I know once Esther gets to K she will love it!

    Because of my wonderful K teacher Ms Reagan I became a K teacher