Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fourth Grade

This post is in conjunction with a history-recording summer-long party over at Mommy's Piggy Tales. We're writing about one memory from a particular year of our lives each Thursday until September 16. Here is my walk down memory lane so far:
I can only think of a few memories particularly from fourth grade--- 
* we all thought we were very cool because we had a subject with a big name like "geography," * my teacher had a surgery of some kind that made it impossible for her to talk for several weeks (she would write our assignments on the board; we thought this was wonderful!); and 
* the pictures that my friend and I would pass back and forth to add to and finish. 
Yep, that's about it.
But fortunately, there are plenty of generic elementary school memories that I can share. This week I'll focus on the "special education" class that I started attending in third grade and continued in until I graduated from high school. 
In second grade I was called out of my classroom one day by a rather large (and intimidating) blonde woman. She took me into a small room where we sat across a small desk from each other and she began to ask me questions. It's rather funny, but I even remember some of the questions she asked like, "Who invented the light bulb?" I couldn't answer any of the questions. None of them. She even asked me, "What month comes after October?" (ahem, the answer just happens to be my birth month!) but I couldn't even manage that one. I returned to my classroom sure that I was destined for being shipped off for some classroom for the particularly stupid. I had no idea that the whole thing was an interview to see if I would enjoy an excellerated class. My mom thought my teacher had told me and my teacher thought my mom had told me.
Fast forward to third grade where the whole process was repeated (this time with me being in on the loop). I don't remember this questioning at all, but apparently it went fairly well because I was allowed in to the class.
The teacher of the class, Mrs. Small, named the class SURE (which stands for something I can't remember). She fast became my friend and mentor. She had a plaque up in our little classroom that read

This motto became indelibly ingrained in my psyche mostly because it was a motto that Mrs. Small exemplified with her life.
Mrs. Small was the one to take us on walks to collect fall leaves and then have us try to match the leaf colors with crayons. She said she could just picture God smiling at us for trying to match his brilliant art.
Mrs. Small is the one who took us all to her own house and served us pancakes which we had to eat as if we were dining with the president, cutting only three pieces at a time, having our napkin in our laps, and using the correct silverware. 
Mrs. Small is the one who, when I was nearly jumping out of my seat with a new idea, would call on me and then have everyone else participate in acting out my ideas (if they were any good, of course).
Mrs. Small was the one to take us on numerous outings--getting us out of class and making us the envy of all of our classmates.
Mrs. Small is the one who liked my idea of a hamburger decorating contest for our party day. We all had hamburgers, buns and all the condiments. We decorated, took pictures and ate our burgers. I won the contest by cutting my burger in half and turning the halves around to make a butterfly shape which I then decorated.
Mrs. Small is the one who gave us the assignment of each reporting on a country. When I chose Belgium (a country my parents had just visited), Mrs. Small doubted that I would be able to find enough information on it to come up with a good report. (Did she know me so well that she understood that only another's doubt could make me want to achieve the greatest heights?) When I gave my extensive report, complete with a sample of Belgian waffles for each listener, my victory was very sweet.
And Mrs. Small was the one to introduce us to FPS--Future Problem Solving. This is an international competition where a group of four students has to read a story involving a current problem and brainstorm solutions. The four students then have to come up with a commercial to "sell" their solution to the judges. My little FPS group was, in our high school years, able to go to state competition and win, which sent us to Ann Arbor, MI and Rhode Island for two separate international competitions.
I've lost touch with my dear teacher, Mrs. Small, but I will forever be thankful to her for the gifts and encouragement that she blessed me with through that class!
Memory lane is definitely a place I love that brings me great joy!


  1. Wow! What a great story about your wonderful teacher! I wish I could say I had a teacher like that! Of course in our school district it was always overcrowded so we had large classes and not as much time to get to know the teachers, more so in jr high & high school.
    Your report reminds me of one I did in high school, the teacher actually told me HE learned something! I got a 110% on it- highest grade given, and it was actually worth 75% of our grade so that was awesome!
    Thanks for sharing about your teacher!

  2. What a tribute to a great teacher! I can only imagine that she would be honored to read this post.. I hope you can track her down!

  3. Oh my gosh I LOVED Future Problem Solving!!! I had completely forgotten about that! I was a member of Academic Team - which I'm talking about next week - but we did that! So funny.

  4. Have you ever thought about finding Mrs Small? I have a teacher from high school who greatly influenced me and I would love to find her. Think there is an "old teacher directory" out there someplace?

  5. Sounds like you were blessed with a good teacher! Fourth grade is the first year where I have lots of memories of school. It also happens to be the first year that I was put in a more academically challenging environment.

  6. I just wrote about one of my favourite teachers too! They sure made an impact. My teacher was a highschool teacher, so the fieldtrips were replaced with intellectually stimulating slideshows or conversations only teenagers like.

    GREAT teacher- Mrs. Small! I think she sounds amazing.