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!!
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!
Feel free to share with a friend(s).
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