It’s an unscientific sampling, agreed. But reader responses to Old School confirms it. Our earliest school experiences do stay with us.
As we boomers age, nostalgia is in. Everything old is new again, from the Converse sneakers we wore for gym class to 70s comfort foods like meatloaf and mac and cheese now on the menu in upscale eateries.
It’s no surprise, then, that readers responded to Old School with memories of their own. Whether it is a convent school in Maryland or a red brick building gone coporate, there is nothing more nostalgic than a visit to your elementary school.
Our second grade teacher was Mrs. Carlson. She taught us to work independently and to add columns of numbers by carrying tens and ones. She helped us get library cards and when one of the boys showed up with a couple of tadpoles in an empty milk carton, she did her best to create an environment where they could–and did–grow into tiny tree frogs.
So, uber- props to colleagues who work with our youngest students. Their days are devoted to helping kids construct essential foundations for future academic and social success. They teach sight words and sharing, numbers and patience, phonics and fair play.
But wait, there’s more. Forty years from now, those kids will remember story hour and that time they got to be first in line, holding the teacher’s hand on the way to the art room. They will remember who they sat next to and where the pencil sharpener was located.
No pressure there, right?
Talk to kindergarten teachers. Ask them about their work. I did. It’s not all fun and games in those primary classrooms. Though one of my NYS certifications that says I could do what they do, I could never do what they do. Never. In addition to the academic demands these teachers and their kids face, there are the intangibles, the emotional attachments that evoked the instant nostalgia among Old School readers.
That’s why we remember singing with Mrs. Beatty. That’s why we remember jumping jacks with Mr. Danzig or spelling with Mrs. Lutri. That’s why we remember Mr. Kanze walking to school every day right along with the kids.
Those of us teaching secondary students manage unique challenges to be sure, but we also depend on our colleagues’ hard work, setting the groundwork for all future learning. Middle schoolers may be in hormonal turmoil and may sometimes assert their independence in ways we would rather they didn’t, but they come to us with the academic and social skills essential for success.