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My First Class

2011 January 6
by prgiff

     I open my e-mail and recognize the name in an instant. “Do you remember me?” he writes.

    Of course I remember him. He had a great smile. I remember all those kids who were in my first class, a fifth grade, at P.S. 136, in St. Albans. He’s no longer a boy; he’s’s a grandfather.

    A day later, a second boy from that class writes, too.

    How grateful I am to them both. They remember me!

     I was twenty-one that year, assigned  to teach three blocks away from my house. I knew that school. I’d attended kindergarten there, and my old teacher was still there. I didn’t dare call any of those teachers by their first names.

    I wonder if every teacher feels the same way about her first class. I remember all of them: the two who waited on my front step to walk me to school every morning, the girls who patted my dress in approval, the boys who were willing to do anything for me, from emptying wastebaskets to washing the blackboard. One of the boys, always dear to me, told me he called me, my Miss Reilly. 

     I’ve kept that first plan book all these years and went through it today, smiling at their names.  Was it possible that I taught everything that was written every week  in my neat new teacher’s handwriting? I’d zipped right through the discovery of America and in ten months we’d fought the civil war and learned about the important cities in the South. Ah, but I loved teaching Social Studies, and close to my heart was what one of them said years later: “I became a Social Studies teacher because of you.”

        I taught sewing to the girls. We made aprons. I pulled out out huge uneven stitches and gave  them a little head start with stitches of my own. But where were the boys? They were next door at Mrs. Rizza’s, doing something called construction. I have no idea of what construction was. Maybe the boys do.

    I’ve listed their heights and their vision results. There’s a note reminding me to encourage Virginia to wear her glasses.

   I know we didn’t have a library, but the book bus pulled up regularly and I still come across the books from my own  childhood, marked Miss Reilly, that I shared with them.

   Standardized tests were far from my thoughts. I wanted the kids to be happy, to be involved. I hope that happened. I’d  love to hear from all of them. But in the meantime, thank you, Shelly, thank you, Frank. It was a joy to hear from you.

6 Responses leave one →
  1. January 6, 2011

    Hii my name is Destinee and i am reading your book Hollis Woods.So fare we are on chapter8 its a great book .I really i joy the book.And i like the fact that shes a foster child going from house to house.And on chapter 8 we are reading that the mustard ladie wants to take Hollis from ms.josie and place her in a new home with a mother a father a 3year old son and a dog. And Hollis doesnt want to leave so we will she what happens later on ..bye

  2. January 6, 2011

    Hi my name is briana wyatt i am in the middle of your book hollis woods i am really enjoying we are at the begining of chapter 8.It is an great storywe are learning about when Hollis is going to be takin away from Josie.I do not think thatHollis should have been takin away from Josie.that is just my opinion on were we are at now.

    thank you so much for listning
    briana wyatt

  3. January 6, 2011

    Hey my name is Danequa and i am read your book the picture of Hollis Woods. Right now it is a great book. My class is on chapter 8 now and we are learning that Hollis is leaving Josie. Now she is going to a other family with a dog and a three year old son. You should not have taking Hollis a way from Josie because she is very forgetful.
    thanks for giving us this story! :)

  4. RonaldL Hughes permalink
    January 6, 2011

    I remember my first class in the 8o’s. My first period class today is a fantastic one, as are my second, third, and fourth period. Some questions my first period class have are
    What lessons she learned while writing the story?
    What person did you have in mind when you developed the mustard woman?
    Fantastic story!!!!

  5. January 6, 2011

    Hi my name is dustin bell i just wanted to tell you that i like your story it really inspired me.Why did you wright this story who was it about you or sombidey else thats all i what to say.

  6. January 6, 2011

    it’s cool and i enjoy the book and about joise she should of knock out the mustard lady

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