Not a day in the classroom goes by without me thinking of my 6th grade reading and social studies teacher, Miss R.
I had a lot of growing up to do in 6th grade, but that didn't bother her. Miss R saw the potential that I had, that my classmates had, and pushed us to do better than our best. It didn't matter that we were 11 and 12- she treated us like adults and truly respected us. From her, I learned how to hold my head high even when I was feeling small. Each time we struggled through a task she was there to guide us. She never gave you the answer, but always gave you a path to the answer.
In Miss R's class, we held mock trials, we created a mock society, and we worked on things that mattered to us. She even made tedious sentence diagrams into an exciting story. She sent us postcards every summer until we graduated 8th grade. I remember her devotion to a Broadway star named Robert Cuccioli- she was the president of his fan club, I believe. Every time Miss R went to see him on Broadway (we were 15 minutes from NYC) she would come back and fill us with stories about him. As a class, we became obsessed with him too! That taught me to share my passions with my students- if I'm excited about it, they'll be excited about it.
Miss R would always say, "Call me. I'm in the book," if we needed homework help. She would talk to us privately, saying, "This is between you, me, and the wall." Apparently, she even made predictions on little index cards about what we would be in the future. If we asked, she'd say, "Ask me when you're 18. Look me up. I'll be in the book."
My first teaching job was at my old middle school, and she was still teaching there. I remember feeling nervous to be next to her at a faculty meeting- this bright star from my adolescence. When I went to her retirement party, I was a first year teacher. I didn't know to pick her brain about how she made a room full of 6th graders love every minute of her class, which I regret. But I do not regret any part of being her student, or her colleague, for that matter. She was (and is) my teaching hero. Thank you, Miss R, for your wisdom, your passion, your wit, and your strength. I hope I can be half the hero to my students that you were to me.
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