Saturday, April 28, 2018

Good and Bad Teachers 2

One of the best (if not THE best) teachers I ever had was Mrs. Griffith in Third Grade.
She was strict and old fashioned, but I felt safe in her class and learned a lot from her. 
The parents of many of my classmates had also been her students because she’d been teaching for years. 
In our old school building the other classrooms had modern tables and chairs or desks for the students, but in her class our desks were still the ones with wrought-iron curly sides and holes for ink bottles on top, and the desks were bolted to the floor in straight lines.
We had ink bottles in those holes and yellow, wooden pens with the old fashioned nubs. Fountain pens were fairly new and ball-point pens hadn’t been invented yet.  She taught us how to write with those pens and ink. 
Every day after lunch Mrs. Griffith would read to us from a classic children’s book, one chapter at a time. 
All credentialed teachers were required to know how to play the piano back then. Like the others in our school, our teacher would play the one in our classroom as we sang along.
Today she would be fired or arrested for some of the things she did, but times were different back in the 1940s. 
No child was allowed to enter her room in the morning without a hug. That helped us know she loved us, but it would be considered molestation today.
And I remember her becoming angry with a student for writing “Merry Xmas.” She told him sternly, “Never replace the name of Christ with an X!” Of course she didn’t know the X symbolized the cross and had been how Christians identified each other in centuries past. Teachers can’t mention religion in public schools today.
Years later when I was in my 20s and working at California School for the Deaf I realized what an excellent teacher she had been and wrote her a thank you note about that. She never wrote back.

One day, quite a few years later, my mother told me something I’d written was in the report from the Superintendent of Schools that was mailed to everyone in Marin County. It was the letter I had written to Mrs. Griffith. It had meant so much to her that she’d kept it for the rest of her life and it was published with her obituary.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Good and Bad Teachers

As a student I had some teachers who were good, some who were bad, and many who were medium. I’ll blog about some of them in my next few posts, but won’t mention the names of the bad ones. They’re probably all dead, but I wouldn’t want to get sued by their families.
The worst teacher I ever had was in the First Grade. She was so bad we all called her Miss Devil behind her back. 
This was in the 1940s and nobody realized how many children had been born during WWII.  There were 40 kids in our class. Kindergartens were optional back then, only taught the sort of things preschools do today, and weren’t required, so many of the kids hadn’t ever been to school before starting First Grade.
If a kid didn’t obey “Miss Devil” she would grab them by the shoulders and shake them. I was one of several kids who threw up every morning before going to school because I was terrified of going, and kids often vomited during class. When that happened she’d have us sneak outside quietly so the other teachers wouldn’t hear us while the janitor cleaned up the mess.
Math was horrible. Every day we had to write numerals, spell out the words for the numbers, and draw that many apples. The first week we did the numbers from one to ten, then added another ten until we reached 100 after ten weeks. From then on we had to repeat doing that for the numbers from one to 100 every single morning for the rest of the school year.  Boring! To this day I hate anything that involves writing numbers on lines.
About half the class weren’t learning to read so she’d have them chant the letter sounds over and over while the rest of us did other work at our desks. Twenty of the kids had to repeat first grade because they hadn’t learned to read.

Obviously that teacher wasn’t called to teach young kids, and I heard she later got a job teaching in a junior high school. I hope she did better there.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Favorite Age

Preschoolers are my favorite age to work with. But what’s my favorite age to be?
Of course I can’t remember my infancy, but I do remember being preschool age. I had lots of fun and learned new things all the time, but I had almost no control of my life.
In grade school I learned a lot and had the freedom to go out and play, but I got teased a lot in school, had to work hard there, and the grown-ups controlled everything.
My teen years were probably my least favorite age to be. Yes, some fun and exciting things happened, but there was constant pressure to do well in school, to try to be popular (I wasn’t) and to plan the rest of my life by choosing a career.
As a young adult there was a lot to adapt to, like college, getting and working at jobs, making new friends, and choosing a life partner. In some ways that was a great time, but it wasn’t easy.
Middle age involved more working, raising a family, and dealing with life in general. In some ways it was difficult and in other ways it was wonderful.
Now that I’m government certified old (I get social security) I must deal with more health problems, and lots of people I love have died. Grief isn’t fun. But I have more freedom than I had during most of my life. 
I guess every age has plusses and minuses but I’ve had a good life. I’m grateful even for some things I didn’t like at the time, and  enjoy my life.

What is or was your favorite age to be?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


Remember the song about “childhood, childhood, little girl and boyhood” that said “Once you’ve crossed its borders you can never return again”?
Well, that’s true, but some of us hang out on the borders.
I read (and write) books for kids and, now that I’m back to teaching preschool, I hang out with kids a lot.
And I still enjoy using my imagination, learning new things, and appreciating the world around me.
I guess, in a way, I’ve never completely grown up and I hope I never do.

Are you still a kid on the inside like me?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

What A Day!

It felt so good to hit the snooze alarm and sleep in. But then…
I realized how much I need to do today. Shop, cook, clean house, do yard work, pay bills, etc., etc. And I’ll be sure to turn on the noon news to find out who has been killed and learn about wars, rumors of war, and nasty politics. And I need to try to catch up on all my unread e-mail messages and work on that manuscript and - etc., etc., etc..
What a day!
But wait!
Okay, it’s time to take a deep breath and focus on all I have to be thankful for instead of complaining.
I can afford to buy food, and have a stove and refrigerator. I have a car that will take me safely to the store. I have a house and yard, and utilities. I’ll see lovely trees and plants in my yard and I can communicate with people all over the world on the internet. I have friends and family and live in a nice neighborhood. I can see, and hear, and taste, and smell, and eat, and think, and talk and walk, and read, and write, and …..
I could go on all day about the good things.
What do you have to be thankful for?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Happy Hands

I don’t often post personal information on the internet, but today I’m making an exception.
For years when my daughter was a young kid I had a home preschool called Happy Hands. Later I worked for several years in other preschools as well as substitute teaching in classes of all ages.
I love working with young kids and have stayed in touch with some of the families I worked with for decades.
Today I’m starting another home preschool, also called Happy Hands, many miles and even more years away from the first one.

I may not have time to blog as often as I’ve been doing, but I hope to be a good influence in the lives of lots of kids.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Dog Spit

Do you think dog saliva is gross? Many people do.

But here’s a story that might change your mind.

Many years ago, back in the 1970s, my husband had a horrible infection in his arm. The antibiotic the doctor had prescribed wasn’t helping and my poor husband was so miserable he couldn’t get out of bed.

Our dalmation kept trying to lick the sore and, finally, my poor husband felt too weak to push her away and let her lick it.

To our surprise, the wound began to improve, so he let the dog keep licking it. In a few hours the wound had completely healed.

When we told a doctor friend about that he explained dogs have an enzyme in their saliva that kills the bacteria that cause infections.

So, if a dog licks or slobbers on you or your kids, please don’t worry about it being unsanitary. It’s quite the opposite.