Memories of teachers past

Teachers, do you recall a student named Kita Szpak? Because she remembers you

Who doesn’t remember a favourite teacher; a teacher who picked on you; one who made you laugh; or one who made you nod off in class?

With kids back at school, they’ll be piling up their memories, too, pulling them out and reminiscing about the good ole days in years to come.

Some of you have already read of my impressions of a one-day experience in kindergarten. Here are a few others pulled out of the grade school stockpile—listed in chronological order—more so for my remembering them rather than the ease of reading them.    

Fortuitously, I have my Grade 1 report card which reads, “Kita is full of life… a good worker… sometimes a nuisance… a really delightful pupil.” Truth be told, these comments remain accurate.

I was to skip Grade 2, but with the family moving cities, skipping was not allowed, and I probably made a bigger nuisance of myself that year. Grade 3 was a split class. I was asked to go to the front of the class to teach the second graders how to tell time. I used a pointer on the face of a huge cardboard clock that was hung on the blackboard (which were actually black then), while Mrs. O’Brien worked with my Grade 3 colleagues. I realize now it was her way of getting me to stop talking.

Grade 4 stands out. This was the only year I was in the same class as my twin brother. As a rule—for whatever reason—we were always separated in public school. He ended up having acute appendicitis and was hospitalized for a couple of weeks. The class made up a gift basket for him; I confess I was jealous and secretly hoped I would be hospitalized as well, albeit with a less extreme malady.

Mrs. Orange taught me in Grade 5. Colour figures prominently here. I remember she had a head of dark curls with one sweeping white lock falling across her forehead, and that she wore very sensible black shoes.    

I got my first crush in Grade 6. Not on a student, but on the first male teacher to cross my academic path. I liked everything about him except his breath. He was a smoker.

Grade 7 was under a nun’s tutelage. Her sergeant major-like grammar classes were notorious, but I thank her now for knowing what the subject, verb, object, and clause of any sentence are.

Three people assumed teaching duties in my final grade school year. The class was unruly—not fun to be in. It was said the second teacher had a nervous breakdown because of us. Luckily, the principal of the school, Mr. Doyle, taught us upon her unfortunate departure. There was no more boisterous behaviour, but an emergence of mutual respect and caring where none had existed beforehand. He truly was the best teacher I ever had. I bet the other Grade 8s would think so, too.