I loved my fourth grade teacher. It was 1976, and Ms. Andrews was the coolest thing in my world.
Until then, my teachers had all been kindly schoolmarm types. Not Ms. Andrews. She was young, with long black hair, giant hoop earrings, and plenty of eyeliner. She wore fabulous clothes—elephant leg pants and jumpsuits in bold, primary colors. Her appearance alone commanded our attention. And she was fun; if we were good, she’d move our desks aside and give us Hustle lessons.
But Ms. Andrews was more than just a pretty face. By fourth grade, I had moved through five elementary schools. I was the perpetual new kid, always uncomfortable, and unsure how to fit in. Ms. Andrews guided me through that challenging year; she helped me sort out the complexities of making friends, and encouraged my love of reading and writing. She steadfastly refused to accept anything less than my best work, and even let me drop off missed assignments at her house. So even though I can no longer recall the name of that school (we moved again at that summer), I will forever remember Ms. Andrews.
Over the years, my kids have been blessed with a handful of these memorable teachers. While they’ve never been the new kids, they’ve had their challenges, even in our beloved neighborhood school. My oldest is a bit quirky, and it takes a special individual to understand and inspire him. The teachers who do are dear to my heart, and I’m thrilled when one of my younger children lands in their care. Last year, we said goodbye to our beloved first grade teacher as our youngest moved through her class. There were tears all around. (more…)