My mom is amazing. She knew in the third grade that she wanted to be a teacher, inspired by her own third grade teacher whom she loved so much. That’s what my mom does and who my mom is. A consummate teacher, inside and outside of a traditional classroom- patient, encouraging, demanding, non-compromising, courageous, intelligent, skilled and generous.
She retired from NJ’s public school system at the end of the last school year. She had taught in the same elementary school for over 35 years. A new school has been built and “her school” is being torn down and replaced with senior housing.
Saturday, we attended a last walk through of her school.
A school built in the 1920s has seen a lot of community triumphs and struggles. The oldest graduate in attendance on Saturday was in his 80s. The halls echoed with spectral laughter. As graduates came in and out of the same room they’d say “Oh, I remember this room, it was Mrs. Stout’s”. “I remember this room it was Mr. Melton’s.” I remember this room, I remember this room, I remember this room…
What I enjoyed most, as we wandered from room to room, was revisiting my mom’s memories. It was fascinating to go each of “her” rooms and hear her reminisce about students and events. “This the window I looked out to find that our US flag was flying upside down. I called down to the secretary to see why we were sending a distress signal.”
Of course, I have many memories too. As a child, I went every August and helped Mom set up the classroom. Oh the the days before electric pencil sharpeners!! As an adult I’ve taught theater workshops there. Mom was always so proud to show off me and my sister…still is. In June, my sister and I surprised Mom on her last day of school – a bitter sweet day.
How proud we were of all she had accomplished there. How excited we are to see all the accomplishments that are still to come.