Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Legacy of Learning

In my former life before I was a Mommy, I was a teacher. Although I think the field of education is an excellent career choice, I actually happened to fall into this profession. Weeks before I was set to graduate with my masters degree in psychology our class listened to a guest speaker who strongly encouraged us to have a back-up plan and not count on making any money in the therapy field. Lovely. I was about to get married, my fiance was in school full-time, and we had loans from a private college. And now I needed a back-up plan.

My back-up plan turned into my career when I began teaching special education and discovered I loved it. As a young girl, who changed her quite lofty career aspirations on a weekly basis, if someone had told me I would become a teacher, I would have laughed in their face. My mom was a teacher. My grandmother was a teacher. And I thought I was soooooo not going to become a teacher. Funny how things change.

My mom visited my classroom on several occasions during those years I taught. One day after all the children had left and we were preparing to go home, my mom asked how I knew what to do in the classroom.

"It's in my blood." I told her. I spent years learning and watching my grandmother teach and my mother teach and it just spilled over onto me. What can I say, I am one lucky girl to have received such an excellent informal education.

In January, my grandmother is being placed in my hometown school district's Hall of Honors for her outstanding teacher career. Words escape me as I try to summarize her ability, love, and desire to teach. She was (and still is) amazing. Although she retired over 20 years ago, people still stop her and thank her for all the fun they had in her second grade classroom. Below is the nomination letter submitted on my Grandmother's behalf. Enjoy.

(I have edited this slightly for privacy)

To the ******* Education Foundation Board:

I would like to nominate Mrs. Marjorie M*** to the ***** Hall of Honor. Mrs. Martin taught for ­28 years in the Searcy Public School district. Prior to that she taught 3 years at Griffithville, Heber Springs, and Judsonia. Her teaching career began in S*** at McRae Elementary School. When Sidney Deener was built she rode the bus with her students holding their books on their laps across town to begin classes. She remained there until her retirement in 1985.
Mrs. M**** started every school day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, marching her children to a patriotic song and then leading them in singing several songs as they sat on their desktops. She had a beautiful voice and taught her children all types of songs, including Hello Dolly, Oklahoma, Billy Boy and Ashen was a Tootin’ Turk. She often said ‘you never know what kind of morning a child has had getting off to school and that by the end of their music time, every child has a smile on his face and is ready to go to work’. Before leaving the room for lunch every day she would have her children bow and sing “Father, We Thank Thee.”
Countless children sat around the reading table and learned not only to read but also learned the love of reading from her. She loved language and math. Her second graders (sometimes painfully!) learned to carry and borrow “tens” during their year with her and how to use ‘is and are’, ‘was and were’, capital letters, and periods and question marks.
Every day after lunch she would sit in a big old brown recliner and read to her children. In those days, the children would gather round and many of them would rub her feet as she read. They would actually often fuss to see who would get this privilege for the day. Any person who was in her class can remember the story of Little Lost BOBO and the different animal voices she used as she read the book. She introduced her students to the Boxcar Children series by reading the first book. Little Benny had his own special voice that her students remember today.
Mrs. M**** was known as “that red-haired teacher”. She was known to be strict and was most loved by her students. They were “won over” as she played board games with them at recess on rainy days. Expressions such as “why the very idea”, “I could snatch you baldheaded!” and “I’ve come to have a good day” were some of her favorites (and ours, too).
Mrs. M**** could be seen most days on the playground in her SAS shoes. In the winter she would have on her trademark plaid coat and a headscarf and often had a big umbrella on hot sunny days. Passing traffic often honked and waved, as she knew most people in town.
Mrs. M**** chose my name from a list of student teachers because she thought her husband was kin to my daddy. We immediately formed a bond that has lasted nearly 30 years. Not only was she my supervising teacher, she became my mentor and my close lifetime friend. I have been the envy of many other teachers who wished they could have shared that time in her classroom. Lessons I learned from her about children, teaching and life continue to have an influence on me and all of whom I come in contact.
Mrs. M**** was married to Leon M**** for 59 years. Together they raised one daughter, Janyth. Janyth and her husband Ron gave them 3 beautiful grandchildren, Joel, Lynley, and Andrew. Mr. and Mrs. M**** adored each of them and now their four great-grandchildren. Mrs. M**** has been a member of the *********** for over 60 years and was a longtime member of the ***** Beethoven Club.
I was privileged to move into her classroom when she retired and even though she is no longer physically present in a classroom her legacy continues both through me and all of her former students. I cannot think of a more deserving person to be included in the Hall of Honor than Mrs. Marjorie M*****.

Respectfully submitted,


JenniferReinsch said...

Good morning. That is a great letter. I know you guys must be proud of your grandmother.

Can you send me an email at so that I have your email address. My computer recently crashed and everything was wiped out. Plus, I have had to take my blog private, and that way I can send you an invite.

Amy C said...

That is such a sweet tribute to your grandmother. What a beautiful legacy she is leaving for future generations and has obviously already passed to you. I am sure she is very proud of you too!

margk said...

How very touching. What an inspiration she must be.