Sunday, November 17, 2013

52 Blessings - Mrs. Roberts

3rd Grade:
Back Row L-R:  Mrs. Roberts, me, Erik, Dusty, Bryce, Brad, George, Alan
Front Row L-R:  Anita, Aaron, Judy, David, Anita, Tamara, Starla, Theresa

4th Grade
Back Row L-R:  Aaron, David, Alan, Dusty, Brad, Erik, Bryce, Wesley, Mrs. Roberts
Front Row L-R: Tamara, Starla, Carlene, Charlotte, Judy, Anita, Jane, Anita

Mrs. Roberts was my third and fourth grade teacher.  We put our heads on our desks after lunch recess and listened while she read E.B. White and Laura Ingalls Wilder books to us.  Since she was my teacher two years in a row, I heard Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, Trumpeter of the Swan, and all of the Little House Books (in their entirety) twice.  To this day, I think E.B. White and Laura Ingalls Wilder are two of the greatest children's authors.

While our school supply list in first grade included crayons, Big Chief tablets, #2 pencils, Prang watercolors, and white paste, by the time we entered Mrs. Roberts’ room she said we were old enough for Elmer’s glue. We quickly proved our maturity by making fake fingernails with it. Starla taught us how. We turned our black tin of Prang watercolor paints over so that we had a long, smooth surface, and then spread a thin layer of glue across it. We slid the tin of paints carefully into our desks and let the glue dry for a day or two. When there were no white spots left and the glue was completely dry, we cut oblong shapes from it that fit over our fingernails. We cut a few terrifically-long ones as well as regular-long ones. We licked the back of each glue shape and attached them to our fingernails. This kept us busy many recesses.  Mrs. Roberts never scolded us or told us we couldn't make fingernails.  She just told us to make sure we cleaned up our mess.

Mrs. Roberts always grew enough Halloween pumpkins for her classes and some years she grew enough for every child in the school.  Mr. Roberts chopped down Christmas trees for our classrooms from the nearby hills, and Mrs. Roberts was in charge of much of The Christmas Play props at the Hollister School.  There is a reason The Christmas Play is all capitalized.  It was a very big deal.  And so were the props.  The year our class was snowflakes, Mrs. Roberts cut giant paper snowflakes to fit over our clothes and glittered them generously.  They stapled them the night of the play.

Mrs. and Mr. Roberts had cats, but they didn't have any children of their own.  They lived in a large, two story home out in the country.  I was always secretly glad that Mrs. Roberts only had us students. Selfish of me, I know, but I wanted her to like teaching us as much as we liked her teaching us.  She didn't have favorites (though she did have one student that riled her occasionally).

When Mrs. Roberts' mother died, Mrs. Crockett was our substitute.  Mrs. Crockett tried to teach us long division.  That was a mistake.  We needed Mrs. Roberts.  When she came back to school, I tried to tell her so.  I told Mrs. Roberts I was sorry her mom died, but hoped she looked at the bright side of things and realized she wouldn't have had so many pretty flowers if her mother was still alive.  It came out all wrong and not at all like I planned. Mrs. Roberts looked at me and laughed her funny laugh and said, "You're right," and then she looked at the bouquet of flowers sitting on the windowsill of the classroom and said, "These are very pretty flowers and I wouldn't have them if mother was still alive."

I woke up this morning thinking of Mrs. Roberts.  She's long gone now, but I do hope she knows what a blessing she was to me in my life.  I wrote a letter telling her so, but I'm not sure she got it while her mind was still alert.  Her happy laugh is a pleasant memory and her second-mile service and patience are still an example to me. Children were safe in her classroom.  I hope she knew I appreciated that.

Good teachers are blessings that never quit giving.

Mrs. Roberts gave us Happiness is a Warm Puppy by Charles Schulz.
I still have it on the shelf and read it to my classes.

What is the name of your teacher that had a positive impact on you?



Rachel said...

I love these Hollister school stories the best. Seeing Starla's picture and thinking of her nails just makes me giggle inside. And your FLOWER REMARK!! How could I never have heard that before?? I had Mrs. Robert's for 2nd grade. I don't remember anything from that year. :/

David Earl said...

This is Peggy - Love your posts! I wish I had more time to read them all but I try to get to as many as I can. You're such a gem. Can I hire you to run my life?

Carlene Packham said...

Oh Jane! What memories you brought back. I remember the "student" that could rile Mrs. Roberts. I remember one time in particular, I won't go into details much, I just remember it got a little physical. Oh those were the days. I just don't remember us being that little.

Ande said...

I love your Hollister memories too. You have such a funny memory. It is so like you to tell your teacher the comment about the flowers. How funny.

I also love how your legs are turned ever so slightly in 4th grade to show off your fancy socks.

You're a national treasure ;).

Brenda Goodrich said...

I noticed her fancy socks, too, Ande, and am hoping that they are really tights, because such beautiful tights would be a treasure to show off! The teachers that made a huge difference in my life are Mr. Schmidke (6th grade---he was dynamic, handsome, and passionate about teaching us and helping us find our potential), Mr. Kletsch (4th grade---without Mr. Kletsch, I wouldn't know my times tables), and Mrs. Brockman (3rd grade---we also had reading hour after lunch and she introduced me to the happy pleasures of literature). I had many more inspirational teachers in my life, but these three stand out above the rest.

Brenda Goodrich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
melanie said...

I was just about to comment on your cute plaid dress, the blue tights (socks?), your turned in feet and your adorable smile. I guess that's all of you, a darling girl! I love your school stories too. What a gem of a teacher.

My 4th grade teacher Mrs. Dekoning was the best. She was happy all the time and had a passion for teaching. Especially multiplication facts, we were whizzes. She died from melanoma at the end of the year. We really mourned the loss of her, she wasn't very old. (I also spent some years panicked about melanoma but that's another story...)

Great post!

Lucy said...

Such nice memories of your teachers. I wonder if everyone in your class turned out as kind and thoughtful as you.