MEMORIES: 1981-1982

To the continue the last paragraph, I leapt-- if you want me to type leaped, that’s fine with me; I having a liberal moment. I read about learning issues -- the word disabilities, a word we no longer use,  was all over the place -- group work, the importance of the question-answer method, etc. The best educational writer I read that summer was Maria Montessori. Everything she wrote made perfect sense, but I had no idea how to incorporate the depth and breadth of this remarkable woman’s work into my teaching.  Her belief that the child would reveal himself/herself with his/her work has stayed in my mind till this day.

Again, I would be teaching the entire seventh grade and would share a seventh-grade homeroom with Carol Simons, the seventh-grade math teacher. I was thrilled. Yes, the mantra of the Hickey game was, “Learn as much as Greek mythology and grammar as possible and impress your parents.” They never disappointed me, I began the day with a quiet section -- perhaps, due to the time of the class-- and ended the day with a wild and wooly group-- perhaps, due to the time of the class.

This particular group was a favorite of John Kuntz. In fact, John permitted one of his former students to “borrow” a desk from his math room; this desk became an icon in Rachael’s life. Rumor has it, the desk is alive and well-- it’s almost an antique, certainly worthy of archival status (subtle hint, Rachael), This is just one example of this class’s unique spirit. One young man-- Che was his name-- ended every class by asking, “Where do we put the folding chairs?” Another young woman, Ingrid, would storm into class and ask Nalini, “What does he want us to have?” By the way, the he in question was I; I was the invisible man in the room. That’s just three memories of a remarkable group I might also label as eccentric, but I don’t wish to cast epithets. Oh, I forgot the wonderful group of singers, the Barb Wagner acolytes. Magical!

Thanks to my summer reading, I decided the students would create mythology games. This assignment was a bit of a risk, for it meant I would give up control. Yep, they were in charge of their learning; they needed to maneuver the in’s and out’s of collaboration. I never divulged how much I hated this kind of assignment.  I leaned toward tests and quizzes -- how innovative!

Then, there was grammar. No risk-taking there. I loved teaching the material and watching students as they strove to figure out some of the mysterious craziness of our language. Since I am expected to tell the truth here, I smiled -- inside and out-- as I watched students complete grammar drills and tests. I struggled with understanding that some students could not learn grammar. A difficult time for me, for I so thirsted for their success- even when I was pretending I was the demon grim.

It was a very good year -- in my mind, at least.

The most shocking moment as I thought about this class before I sat down -- they are on their way to quinquagenarian status. Gadzooks!


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Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.