What Do A Snack, Shoe and Poison Ivy Have In Common?


First Grade….. what memories do those two words stir in you?

I bet an image, name, sound, smell, food, outfit, or something personal and specific just entered your mind. You probably don’t think on it often, but it is vivid when you do.

Back in the day, my day, Kindergarten was not mandatory and wasn’t in public schools. You went to a private place, if your parents sent you. So, First Grade was the first all-day, real school experience. I am sure that is why my memories have lasted through the years.

When I ponder my tag line, “Short Years, Long Days, Forever Moments”, my first grade memories fit right in. When I recall it, now, in its condensed state, it was a short year. But, I am sure for my teacher, Mrs. Snyder, there were many very loonnngggg days. Yet, it still holds forever moments etched on my heart and mind like paintings by Renoir, Picasso, Michelangelo. They are treasured, valued, and uniquely mine. They cannot be stolen, altered, or replicated. They are one of a kind originals, priceless.

First Grade is full of “Firsts”. First school-bus rides. (Anybody else have an Uncle as their bus driver?) First time, spending all day away from home and Mom. First time, peers out numbered adults. First time, five days a week were supervised by a non-parent: a new set of rules to follow. First time, I was challenged academically. First time, twenty-some peers influenced me thirty-five hours a week. My life changed this year!

Allow me to introduce Mrs. Snyder


She was a household name when I entered her classroom: she taught my brother and sister ahead of me. I was the third in three years: we were all just one year apart in school. She is the only teacher who had all of us. She had no children of her own, but I recall, warmth oozing from her. I can picture her face and sense a warm mothering individual. Even when you’re too young to define it, kids know in their hearts, when someone loves, accepts, and cares for them. She was that kind of individual.

I have three distinct memories from this school year, centered on Mrs. Snyder.


Memory #1 – Her Shoe! 


Means of keeping order, demanding attention, used for the wanderer or mischievous: throwing her shoe: which always landed near the perpetrator’s desk. I never saw it hit anyone.  She had perfect aim.  I recall, it flying past me down the aisle occasionally. It was raw shock factor. We straightened up and all eyes went forward. I realize, this is an antiquated technique, but it had its desired effect; harming none of us, ever! First Grade is the only time I ever saw this technique employed… it worked for Mrs. Snyder.


Memory #2- Snack-time! 


Every day Mr. Snyder delivered snack. Mid-afternoon,  we’d gather on the braided rug in the corner. Sitting cross-legged, Mrs. Snyder passed out the surprise snacks from the bag her husband dropped off. Three different snacks seemed to rotate, at least in my memory: apples (Orchard fresh), individual packages of pretzel sticks, or individual pouches of M & M’s. I am certain The Snyder’s were not reimbursed for their generosity. It was such a treat. Having a package all to myself felt special. We ate, while Mrs. Snyder proceeded with story time perched on her rocker. It was a lovely afternoon ritual for a six-year-old! It, also, kept us quiet as church mouses while she read.

Memory #3 – Poison Ivy! 


(I am still highly allergic.) Evidently, I sat in it somewhere and it covered my posterior region!! I still remember it being awful!! (Itch and pain mixed) I am not sure I could concentrate at all. 

Sitting on it made it itch more…. Oh Vey! 

But, off to school I went, my posterior cheeks, covered in gauze and medicine. This dear saint had to help me use the restroom, reapply medicine and even change bandages! I am not sure even a school nurse would do that today. But, I have often wondered what all the other children were doing, while I preoccupied her in the restroom!! It seemed like we were in there forever. Some choice memorable moments, right here!!


Ordinary Transformations

When I look at my most prominent memories of first grade, I realize, even at an early age, I was affected by those around me. These three memories hold one-act of discipline and two-acts of kindness.

The discipline helped us learn to self-regulate, focus our attention, show respect, and succeed academically. It was a loving act attempting to teach us how to navigate the classroom. Even if the method was unusual, she meant it for our good. She wanted us to pay attention and learn our lessons to prosper us.

Her above-and-beyond kindness held great impact for me. In fact, it is the preeminent feature I think about her! My first experience in formal schooling helped transform and impact the rest of my life. I don’t recall exactly what I learned, but, I recall liking school; very much. Instincts tell me, Mrs. Snyder had a large impact on that!

Ruth Chou Simons, posted this week, regarding her upcoming book…

“Ordinary days are holy places of transformation.”

Don’t underestimate ordinary days.

And don’t pass them up for extraordinary ones.

It is the ordinary ones that transform us most… we have more of them!

They are holy places ordained by God.

He means for each one to mold and shape us.


Anybody have First Grade memories to share? We’d love to see them in the comments!


Daily Refinement,


Feel free to share with a friend(s).

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12 thoughts on “What Do A Snack, Shoe and Poison Ivy Have In Common?

  1. All of my grade school years have special memories. My sister and, not long ago, were going over our grade school memories through each grade, my most memorable one was in second grade. My best girlfriend and I went to the bathroom together ( first mistake) we decided not to return to the classroom. I don’t recall how long it took the teacher to realize this, but when she came looking for us, we decided to stand on the commode so she couldn’t see our feet under the door. I acidently dropped my precious brownie ring in the commode. My wonderful friend , Geraldine, actually put her hand in the toilet 😜🤪 (I couldn’t have done it) and retrieved my ring. Of course we had to stay after school ( first time for that experience as well). My teacher’s name was Mrs. Russell and she was very upset with us. Geraldine was my first BFF.
    Anita Simpson

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  2. Elaine, my first-grade teacher was scary, old Mrs. McGyver! Loved school, but didn’t love her. Things improved over the years, though. I have very fond memories of my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Dyer. She read to us each day from Winnie the Pooh, using a different voice for each character. We all looked forward to that time each day. Connie Brown

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  3. My first grade teacher was Mrs Van Horn – she reminded me of Aunt Bea of Mayberry. She was older, and didn’t put up with nonsense in the classroom, but she was kind & loved to laugh. I didn’t know it at the time, but she made a huge impact on my academic development. My parents found out I had a profound hearing loss when I was 5 yrs old, just before starting first grade. Mrs Van Horn paired me with a little girl who became my BFF, with a lasting friendship to this day! After school was finished for the year, Mrs Van Horn enrolled in summer classes to learn how to help a child with my special needs. She requested a transfer to become my second grade teacher, and asked that Mary & I be placed in the same classroom again. Mrs Van Horn collaborated with the school system speech therapist to help me develop good speech and learn lip reading. I’m sure she followed my progress with other teachers throughout my elementary school years. In sixth grade, she asked that I be placed in a separate classroom from Mary, to see if I could do well on my own academically & socially – by this time I was wearing a hearing aid, which helped my understanding significantly. I went on to graduate High School with high honors… all because a teacher became a student to learn how to teach this student 😊


  4. I LOVED First grade!! I was in one class then after the beginning of the year was pulled out to start another class. We had a very young, new teacher (I cant recall her name right now — how is this I am only 38 ???) we had to have class in the library for a time until they could set up the classroom for us. I remember her reading to us and that she would pick at her thumb nail while she read causing it to slightly bleed (I can’t remember her name but remember this????),- I specifically remember the book How To Eat Fried Worms -we got to make butter by shaking a jar and I got to try a wheat thin cracker for the first time (delicious), we made peanut butter bars, and I had my first goldfish cracker (we received these for doing well in our work). Besides eating (which is what I remember most apparently) I remember her working with me in conjunction with my parents so I wouldn’t have to go to summer school. I was on a low reading level and I remember sitting with her at a special table in the back of the room with a few other friends and her working so hard to help us out. I honestly attribute my love for reading to her because I believe that if she and my parents hadn’t been so diligent I would have fallen more behind and that I then would have hated it instead of loved it. Without that I would have missed out on so much. So thank you Miss What’s your name? and if I ever think of it I will for sure come back and let ya’ll know!

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  5. First grade! It seems so foggy and distant but yet many memories are vivid. Ms Lina was my teacher. She was young, kind and dressed up in cool costumes all the time. I was in a new school that year. I remember it being a nicer school. I remember working on phonics a lot. I also remember loving the BIG playground at my new school. Snack was usually graham crackers and chocolate milk. I remember enjoying her class a lot.

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  6. My kindergarten teacher was Mrs Dumas. I remember thinking that she was the most beautiful lady in the world! There was a bell that always sat on the corner of her desk, it was used to call us into the classroom from the playground where my grandfather dropped me off after our walk to the school. That sound will forever in my mind will be connected to the joy of learning letters, numbers, songs and games.

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