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My humorous thoughts about life.

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Showing posts with label Wydown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wydown. Show all posts

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lost in France #AtoZ

As a child, I was fortunate to attend thirteen years at one of the best public school districts in the country--Clayton in St. Louis, Missouri. This city of predominately wealthy retirees allowed us few young folks to bask in the privileges of their high tax dollars. The school supplied us with pencils and art supplies, we received free swimming lessons at the high school natatorium, and had the opportunity to go on amazing field trips.

When I was in the eighth grade, I took a field trip to Paris, France for a week with seven other students and my poor French teacher. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my childhood, but unfortunately, the last time Ms. Silberg took a class out of the country.

The nightmare began at Notre Dame Cathedral shortly before Easter. My friend Judy picked up a spray of holy leaves that she carried through the paved area in front of the church. A stranger stopped us to ask Judy where she'd gotten her holy weeds. Having only studied French for a year and a half, it took us awhile to translate what exactly the gentleman was saying and figure out how to answer him. By the time we finished talking to the stranger, something one should never do, the class had disappeared. 

We wandered throughout the grounds of Notre Dame looking for our teacher and classmates, but no luck. Not to worry. Knowing we were smart, fearless kids, we'd just jump on the subway and get off at our stop, Bastille. Unfortunately, we did not know that there were two Bastille stops, and of course, we jumped train at the wrong one. So, we were forced to wander the subways shouting, "Parlez vous Anglais?" to any passing stranger.
One woman stopped to tell us, "Yes. I speak English," but she looked totally frazzled when we spat out our predicament in a language that she just thought she spoke. This was surprising because it seemed like many of the French speak English. For example, at another part of the trip, we tried to get off at our subway stop but found ourselves blocked by a rather large passenger. 

We said, "Excuse-moi! Pardon!" but the woman wouldn't budge until Laura said, "Move it, lady!" See! An English speaker.

Anyway, we wandered the Paris subways for two hours and amazingly found our way back with the help of a woman from North Carolina who spoke both languages. By the time we reached our dorm, the teacher's hair shot out in every direction, her nails were chewed off, and she didn't know whether to hug us or slap us. Sorry Miss Silberg!
Oh mon Dieu! by E. Lansky

Tune in tomorrow when I tackle the letter M and my amazingly ridiculous moving situation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ms. Kirk & Other Old Teachers #AtoZ

Gum Chewers Beware!
It's amazing and even frightening how little events from my school days have become ingrained in my memories. I'm referring to my middle school librarian who would go on a rampage to seek out those bad boy gum chewers in the library. Yes, they were a naughty crew. Ms. Lizzie Kirk, who stood eye level to us, would make sniffing sounds around the tables before announcing, "Aaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiii smmmmmmell Juicy Fruit!" Some thirty-five years later, I can still laugh at her sing song shout, and be glad I wasn't chomping the sticky substance.

Or perhaps I'm forever taunted by the memory of my fourth grade teacher sliding one penny-loafer-covered foot up and down her leg as she glared at students heading into class. She reminded me of a bull preparing to charge, and attack she did if anyone stepped out of line. I did my best to behave; but still, she hated me. My next door neighbor swore the woman was an antisemitic person. I doubt it. The person part that is. I think I saw her photo on the screen of the Men In Black Headquarters.

Heavy Evie, Miss Bull Charger's girlfriend and my horrid sixth grade teacher, gave me nightmares for years. She'd often rattle the windows of the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classrooms whenever she'd burst into her screaming fits. She yelled at Ruthie and insisted that her name was "Ruth" and put Paul in a refrigerator box. I'd be fired if I did half of what she got away with, but times were different. In my days, people didn't question teachers and kids getting in trouble at school meant more problems for them at home.

Despite the few toads, not all my teacher memories are negative. I thoroughly loved Miss Silberg, my middle school French teacher. She had a fun personality and was always sure to give us a laugh in class. Although she was one of my favorite teachers, I inadvertently gave the poor woman heart failure. Tune in tomorrow, and I'll tell you all about it in my L post.

Skipping ahead, I loved Walter Johnson, who taught Econ 51 at the University of Missouri. He kept us laughing whether it was by throwing chalk at a sleeping student or stripping on stage. Fun and goofy, those are the teachers I loved.

Which brings me to the question of what, if any, life long memories have I given to my students? I'll never forget the eighth grader who told me how she was heartbroken for not getting a sticker one day when she was in the first grade. I couldn't remember what she had done not to earn it and felt horrible in knowing this memory still plagued her. So I gave the teen a sticker and prayed she could move on. I hope my students' memories are good. Maybe I gave them a laugh or made them cry. Like my teachers of the past, I will probably never know what lasting impressions I've left on them. I can only hope they are positive.