What a relief! Grungy from a workout, I always fear any public appearance looking so bedraggled. Yes! I made it through the grocery store and to the car without seeing anyone I…
“Mrs. Boyd? Is that you? I thought so! How are you?”
I have that split second in which to respond. I have learned not to fake it. Conversations do not go well when I have no idea to whom I’m talking. I’m flattered that I’m still recognizable; this person looks only vaguely familiar.
“I know your face, but you’ll have to tell me your name!” I respond, smiling. I do love it that former students still want to connect with me
So we chat. As I drive away, I can imagine this lovely young woman calling her mother immediately, saying, “You’d never guess who I just talked to! Mrs. Boyd—my fifth grade teacher. And you wouldn’t believe how old she looks!”
So be it. I wanted to tell her I’d just come from the gym, that I do still wear jewelry and dress nicely, that I only wear such shoes if I’m exercising. I did not. I asked about her family and was truly glad to see her. Some people hardly change appearance from fifth grade to adulthood, but most change a lot.
I love to keep up with former students. I like to think that some small gesture or word in third or fourth or fifth or sixth or seventh grade affected them positively for life.
Some write later to say such; most do not. I do not expect it, but it’s lovely when it happens.
After I’d taught fifth grade for a while, I wrote my own fifth grade teacher, Miss Floy Wilkinson, and thanked her for all she taught us. She was high on memorization (and studies I can’t locate right now show that ages 10-12 are at the height of memorization powers). She had us memorize I Corinthians 13, the Ten Commandments, several Psalms, Ecclesiastes 3, the Gettysburg Address, and the Preamble to the Constitution. And those are only what I think of right now.
We had “Art Appreciation” once a week. She would show us a print of a famous painting and tell us about the artist. What do you recall about “The Angelus” or Rosa Bonheur? I remember both vividly. That triggered my own exploration of art galleries when I worked in Washington, D. C., between high school and college.
So whether I look my best or my worst, I really don’t mind. Recently at the grocery store I met a man and his child and fortunately did recognize him as one of my son’s contemporaries and my former student. He introduced his son, a third-grader, to me, saying, “She was MY third grade teacher.”
The boy’s mouth dropped. “YOU were in third grade?” he questioned his dad. We both laughed, me with relief. It could have been much worse.
After all, James addresses this in chapter 3, verse 1: “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
I do hope this will prompt you to write a teacher who had a life impact. Even if you never hear back, it will be a great exercise for you—and may prompt some long-lost memories to emerge.
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