Reflections: Second Grade

Today, Whitney and I await reports from Joey's new school and his new teacher. He's moving into the 2nd grade at his new school, and we're hoping this is a new beginning. Joe didn't have a banner 1st grade year--by Christmas break, he'd been branded a troublemaker by his teacher, and by Spring Break, he was living up to that moniker. He seemed bored, unengaged, and lethargic.

In other words, it sounded just like me when I was in 1st grade. My teacher, Mrs. Moore was a stern woman with a round face, a rounder body, and a beat-the-drum teaching style. We sat for 2 hours straight everyday learning phonics. Mrs. Moore had this peculiar style of using a white and red piece of chalk in the same hand. I can still see her writing on the (green) board, showing us how the 'e' on the ends of words like 'pale' and 'sale' made the vowel a long sound.

So yeah, 1st grade was painful. I didn't get into trouble like Joey; I practiced nonviolent resistence--I faked sick like my life depended on it, like I had an allergy to school. I figured out that if I could moan & groan enough, my mom would take me down the road and leave me with my Uncle Donnie, who worked nights and had cable TV. Can you say USA Cartoon Express? Yep. Donnie was a very cool guy.

Ah, but I digress. Time marched on; I survived 1st grade and the ensuing summer, and landed in 2nd grade at LBJ Elementary. I went into second grade in 'Fa' complex (the school had 4-classrooms in 1 big room called 'complexes'--all the rage in 1966 when it was designed). The complexes were named after the notes in that song Vicki hates:

  • Do

  • Re

  • Mi

  • Fa

  • So

  • La

  • Ti

Interestingly, my complex had 2nd and 3rd grade students, and I would stay there for 2 years, moving across the slidy-drawer thing into Mrs. Dora Holbrook's class the next year. Ah, but this year, this annus mirabilis! The birds sang, the angels danced, and I had Miss (yep, unmarried!) Deaton. She was young, exciting, loved to teach, and she wore it on her face every day. From the hot days of August, through the chills of November, ending in the bursting of May--she wasn't a teacher, she was the teacher. She saw me for what I was--a pretty smart kid who was as lazy as they came. She wouldn't stand for it.

Miss Deaton set me straight. She made me love learning and never doubt my potential. Forget absenteeism--I wanted to be EARLY. I hated snow-days. I never got sick. I wanted to crack open those MacMillan reading books with the gaudy red colors and smack Lauren Griffith when she got an answer in before I did. Miss Deaton would ask us to talk about things outside the curriculum we'd learned--horseback riding, ATVs, politics, art. I remember having read a thing about Raleigh's lost colony on Roanoke, Virginia, and we just talked about it in class the next day. She tolerated the egotists and wallflowers among us equally, but brooked no disrespect, even for Terry who kept messing his drawers.

It was a special class, and a special time. Dad bought the farm and we became de factor farmers. We contemplated moving me from the Breathitt County Schools to my new 'home' county, Lee. Fatefully, that never happened, and I'd spend the rest of my primary and secondary career a Bobcat, who lived a long-distance call away from all my friends.

So, I hope Joe has a similar metamorphosis in his new situation, and we can all look back on this as a turning point.


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