Monday, August 3, 2009

For the Love of First Grade

When we were at the theater waiting for Half-Blood Prince to start, we saw a “first look” at the new animated movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. It’s based on a children’s book by the same name. [Description from Amazon: “If food dropped like rain from the sky, wouldn't it be marvelous! Or would it? It could, after all, be messy. And you'd have no choice. What if you didn't like what fell? Or what if too much came? Have you ever thought of what it might be like to be squashed flat by a pancake?”]

I loved this book as a child, however, most everyone I know has never heard of it. I gave it to my nephews for Christmas, and no one there had ever heard of it. The friends we were at the movie with had never heard of it either. I’ve had the same experience with other books and authors from my childhood: William Steig (he wrote Shrek, by the way, but also lovely books like The Amazing Bone and Dr. De Soto), James Marshall (Miss Nelson is Missing, Miss Nelson is Back - hilarious), Tomie dePaola (Strega Nona = love for me), Nancy Carlson (meeting her was an elementary school highlight) and so many more.

The one thing all these books have in common? My first grade teacher, Mrs. Larson. I’ve always held a special place in my heart for Mrs. Larson. I think her class is where I got my love for reading. Also writing. She had us write about our weekends every Monday and I loved those assignments (Over the weekend I…). She was encouraging. You always wanted to get your paper back with a little pop bottle drawn on it, because that meant she’d buy you one from the teacher’s lounge for doing such a good job. She was fun. I always wanted to make her proud.

I owe a lot to Mrs. Larson, perhaps more than any other teacher I had, and she taught first grade. First grade. It goes to show you how experiences when we’re young can truly shape us.

Do you have a teacher or another adult who shaped who you’ve become or who guided you toward who you are now?


Maega said...

Absolutely yes. In fact- he still remembers my birthday and sends Wuzzles from the paper (they were so challenging for me in HS that we would complete them together). Mr. Hamre was my psych teacher in 10th grade. I was in a class with 12th graders (can't remember why). But all I wanted to do was well in his class, and I did. He believed that we could do anything. He was also an Adult Educator, he taught GED classes at night. He was my inspiration to become a trainer/ adult educator. Great teachers really do make a difference.

CMS said...

I also loved my first grade teacher, Mrs. Hooley, and ran into her a few months ago at the local mall. I recognized her immediately (she hasn't changed much in nearly 30 years), and wondered if I should approach her table. Would it be rude of me? (She was having lunch with two other women.) I figured what did I have to lose? So I walked over, interrupted her (apologetically), introduced myself, and told her how much she had made an impact on my life. It was emotional for both of us!!
I also loved my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Haas, my sixth grade science teacher, Mrs. Saccoman, and my ninth grade poli sci teacher Mr. Flowers - they made learning FUN. And in college, Jan Larson told me she believed in me & my writing, that I "got it" ... she was part of the reason I felt confident enough to change my major from sociology to journalism.

willikat said...

OH yes! The teachers! I had a love of reading even before going to school, but I had lots of teachers who really pushed me past my fears and helped me. Mr S would be one, my 11th grade english teacher, who inspired us all to read world fiction and learn about humanities, psychology, and world religions. I had Ms. S, who put a name to feminism and helped develop my love of the first amendment. I had Prof Dan, who opened my eyes to world politics, and GG, who taught me to be fearless and assertive and an f'in good writer.
And I would tell them to their faces . And probably cry, because their lessons were SO IMPORTANT to me, even to this day.