Myfifth-grade year was particularly memorable for a multitude of reasons.
It was the 1980s, and I had recently relocated from Brazil to the States. I was understandably apprehensive about being a new student at a public elementary school.
Fortunately, I was assigned a marvelous homeroom teacher, who, even to this day, remains one of my all-time favorites.
Her name was Ms. T, and she was patient, kind, and dedicated to her class. She genuinely cared about her students and took the time to get to know every one of them on a personal level.
She always looked fabulous and pulled together. She had great fashion sense, and the girls in the class would look up to her, admiring her trendy outfits. She would even wear her hair in a different style every day.
As I recall, we were all proud of her when she did a stint of modeling for a local department store and shared the print advertisements in the local newspaper with us.
Ms. T Takes a Leave of Absence
I was a shy and introverted kid, but she had the amazing ability to draw me out of my shell. I was the teacher’s pet that year, frequently receiving A-pluses in several subjects.
She had a weekly spelling test, which I managed to score 100s on throughout the school year. At the end of the year, I was gifted a Hello Kitty pencil sharpener by her — a big deal in those days when Hello Kitty was at the height of its popularity.
I will preface the next part by saying the story will take a turn for the worse. Lamentably for Ms. T (and us), she was diagnosed with a brain tumor about midway through the school year and had to take a leave of absence.
Her temporary replacement was a lovely young lady fresh out of college who was eager to be doing her job.However, much to her dismay, the substitute had no control over a class full of rowdy, obnoxious fifth graders.
A few troublemakers in the class constantly pushed the substitute’s boundaries to see which rules could be bent.
A few of us (myself included) were polite and respectful, but many of my classmates would follow the bullies who ruled the class.
Over the course of the year, my classmates harassed the substitute by mocking her, senseless laughing, and throwing paper balls around the class. They would also act out by making mean, nasty, and inappropriate comments.
These kids were brutal and completely ignored the substitute. They refused to listen when she told them to be quiet and pay attention to the class.
The substitute would get angry and frustrated with the students. She would yell at them and issue detentions, all to no avail. The class would frequently leave the poor woman in tears.
Ms. T Returns
It was nothing short of a miracle that I was able to learn anything at all that year. I was beyond relieved that the substitute’s agony was over when Ms.T returned towards the end of the school year.
In any case, the class was delighted to have our favorite teacher back. She looked healthy and well. She had even recently remarried.
At the end of the year, the top five students (myself included) were treated to a celebration at a pizza parlor courtesy of Ms. T. We all piled into the teacher’s car and drove to a local restaurant.
It was an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience — a testament to her kindness. The level of rapport I had with Ms. T is hard to come by nowadays.
My fifth-grade year will forever leave an indelible impression on my mind because of the events that transpired that year.
Sometimes I yearn for those early days when Ms.T was my teacher before chaos reigned supreme. I wonder what both those ladies are up to today.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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