Teacher Appreciation Week this year started on May 8, 2023. I found my old report cards from Lincoln Elementary School in Mason City, Iowa. Lincoln was torn down many years ago to make room for expanding the Post Office. But I have my memories. I rediscovered reasons to celebrate the dedication of teachers. I don’t know how many people keep their grade school report cards. My mother kept mine along with old elementary school photos, including class pictures.
Brief remarks on my grade cards remind me how supportive my teachers were—and how they expected me to buckle down. I was kind of a handful and there are indications that I had difficulty focusing my attention. My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Cole, was instrumental in identifying my near sightedness, which helped me to get my first pair of eyeglasses.
It wasn’t a bed of roses. My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Myrton (who always smelled like cigarettes), once slapped me so hard it made my nose bleed because I bumped into her when I was running around the classroom. I don’t remember why I was doing that. She was really sorry for slapping me.
And there was the time me and another kid got caught throwing snowballs on the playground (I can’t remember what grade I was in), which led to the usual penalty levied by the school Principal, Esther Ahrens. We each had to draw really small circles (signifying snowballs) to fill a sheet of paper.
We (meaning the kids) thought Ms. Ahrens was a witch. On the other hand, on a really hot day shortly before summer break, my 4th grade teacher, Ms. Hrubes, started acting really strange and was sort of wobbling at the open window in the classroom. There was no air conditioning in the school. Ms. Ahrens happened to be walking by the room and rushed into the room just in time to catch Ms. Hrubes as she was falling backward in a dead faint from heat exhaustion.
But other than that, along with the usual physical and psychological cuts and scrapes of elementary school, I remember those years as instrumental in turning me and other kids into smarter, nicer people and better citizens. We also learned how to make really tasty homemade ice cream the old-fashioned way, using nested containers, the larger of which had a mixture of salt an ice and a hand crank.
The notes and letters with my report cards often had illuminating comments:
“Jimmy has done well in Physical Education class. He has excellent aim and can hit a moving car’s windshield with a rock (yelling ‘bombs away’) with fair accuracy.”
“During this quarter, I was able to dissuade Jimmy from trying to fly like superman from the second-floor window of the classroom.”
“Jimmy reads well. He could apply himself more carefully in science. We were finally able to remove all the exploded paint from the gymnasium. It took only a few weeks this quarter.”
“Jimmy’s command of spatial relationships has improved a great deal! He can figure out how to fill his emptied milk carton with spinach in seconds, often without attracting the attention of the lunchroom monitors.”
I’m giving a great big thank you to all the teachers! You deserve it!