i went to kindergarten when i was 4. i was so ready. i couldn't wait. mom found a school that was testing a new program "developmental kindergarten" basically, you could get approved to go to kindergarten early, giving it a test drive, you would learn basic things, and then go back the next year, and build on what you had learned the previous year.
so i was four years old, and wearing my favorite dress, and my mom french braided my hair. i loved having my hair french braided. i put on my purple nylon backpack and my pink sweater, and asked my dad to walk me to the bus stop. i did not want my mom to walk me to the bus stop, i told her she couldn't go, just dad. and i got on that bus, feeling a little scared, and extra cautious, i remember fighting back tears as the bus pulled away from the curb. but then i got to school, and i met mrs sandy, and i made friends right away. and i loved it from the beginning.
mrs sandy was a great teacher. she loved teaching, she loved her students, she loved each and every one of us, and loved to help us learn, she made learning fun. i loved to wear dresses and dress shoes as a little girl. i wore a dress everyday. she made me bring my kangaroos in and keep them in my special cubby, so i wouldn't have to run outside in my heels. she gave me hug after hug, and let me be the "fairy" who woke people up after nap time, more often the other kids got to. (that may have something to do with the fact that i hadn't taken a nap for years and years, and never slept during nap time in class) i remember reading time, and gathering on the carpet for a story. she always used voices, and she helped me love to read.
she had a plastic blow up puppet for every letter of the alphabet. the vowels were girls, the others boys, and when we learned a new letter she would talk in character, and blow the thing up, and teach us all about it. we had play time where we moved to a different station in the classroom each day. one station was shaving cream smeared all over the table and we could draw pictures and words into it. there was a florist station, where we could take fake flowers and green foam and create our own flower pattern or arrangement. there was a play house, and a store, and turn on the braille typing machine. there was a station for listening to music, and making green eggs and ham, and going outside to explore with the water works.
i remember one day with the waterworks very clearly, and looking back at it now, it amazes me. my team and i were outside playing with the waterworks, and having a great time, when we realized something, and we had to call mrs sandy out right away. "mrs sandy, come look... the water that gets dropped on the cement doesn't just stay where it it, it drips and runs down the patio to the grass." she was very impressed and told us when station time was over, she would call us upin front of the class to show what we had learned. she used our discovery on the patio, to show how the earth does not stand straight up, but instead how it is tilted on an axis. we were all awed. wow. our earth wasn't straight. it was tilted, but we didn't feel tilted or sideways, because the world was so big. looking back i love that memory, because obviously the water wasn't running down the patio because the earth sits crooked on it's axis. it was just because the patio was crooked, as patios always are, because they have to be to follow state codes, so the water drains away from the building. but we didn't know that as kindergartners, and she used that little discovery we made to teach us something huge. and i am not sure i would have thought to use that as a tool myself. she was like that in everything she did.
i had her again the following year, and learned to love her even more. i remember her talking to my mom one day about how when they were splitting up classes she insisted that no other teacher get "her melinda" she wanted me in her class again. i remember beaming, and feeling loved, and a little whisper from her telling me that was our little secret, that i couldn't tell the other kids what i had just heard. oh how i loved her, oh how i loved learning, oh how i loved school.
the next year i went to a different school, and after that summer we moved out of state. before we moved i asked my daddy to take me to see mrs sandy. and he did. i told her i was moving, and that i wanted to say goodbye to her, and that i would miss her. she gave me her address and told me to write her, and gave me a list of chapter books that she knew i would love to read. i moved away, and wrote her a couple times, and read every book on that list, and today i remember her so fondly. i wish i could tell her today how she shaped me, how she made me love learning, what a giant impact she had on me.
and today, i wish i was a teacher like mrs sandy, instead of sitting in a stuffy office on the phone all day. i wish i could make kids love learning, love reading, love school, like she did me.
maybe someday... maybe someday i will be exactly like mrs sandy. and some girl 20 years later will blog about how i touched her life. but if not, i am so glad that i had her in my life for those two years, i am so glad she was a part of my life.
by Willy Ronis