Theology in the Trenches
Do you remember your teachers? I remember mine.
Miss Miller was my K teacher. One of her shoes had a much bigger platform than the other. Dad said it was because she tripped over a toy in someone’s yard. Truth-be-told, that was not the case in her case, but the illustration did serve its purpose. Between her bunny puppet and the show and tell circle, life was good. Parading around that circle with my newly polished shoes was thrilling until I got half way round and another hollered out, “Those aren’t new…she had those on yesterday!” Surely, I thought, that the new shoe polish upon them would qualify. It did not.
Things sort of went downhill from there as the only thing I recall from first grade is the first day, the first spelling test, and the first goose egg upon my paper. As Sister Elzier slammed it onto my desk, I knew something wasn’t quite right. It took a while to understand that a zero was not a good thing. Teacher went on to hang each test up for all to see. First came the 100 percents…on down the row until the zeros found their place. Way down deep I knew what she did was wrong. But she taught alright. She taught me to stay clear when not held dear.
Sister Kenric came into my life in 2nd Grade. Jovial laughter was to be found and the memories have stayed to this day. In second grade got to switch desks if we received 100% on our spelling tests. One Friday afternoon, I found myself with her in the entry way to the gymnasium…alone. For some reason, I thought it would be okay to act upon my desire to get a 100 when, in fact, I did not. I raised my hand claiming I had, and Kevin, who sat directly in front of me raised his just as quickly to report that indeed I had not. Sister Kenric loved me enough to call me out on it, and sent me home with a note to my mama. She taught me to honesty and the importance of it. She taught me forgiveness. She taught me love.
Mrs. Wenner was the third grade teacher at that time. She was a lawyer’s wife who lived in a neat little brick house. She dressed nicely and was stiffly polite. She taught me kindness.
At some point during my 4th and 6th grade years, Mrs. Hamilton let me stay in from recess to help. She gifted me a book. Touched, to this day I remember well the cover. She taught me connected compassion.
Sister Pamela was there for part of the year and then, if memory serves, the naughty boys sent her packing. Noting my C in Religion that year, perhaps I played a part. She taught me empathy.
Seventh grade Mr. Jarvinen was teacher. Many tried desperately to peak into his briefcase in hopes of finding a love letter either to or from his girlfriend. My love for travel began this year with a three inch picture in a book with the word Geography written upon it. He taught me adventure.
In eighth grade Sister Jocelyn was in command. What do I remember? I remember one day she hollered loudly, “You can’t add apples with apples and get oranges! You can’t add oranges with oranges and get bananas!” If I’m not mistaken she was trying to teach us the basics of Algebra. It was a start. She taught me that looking attentive and engaged in the midst of being deathly afraid…goes far. It is called survival. I survived.
In High School, the English teachers were encouraging, the Home Ec teacher was not too crazed when things didn’t turn out as they should, and the typing teacher was organized. I learned from them all.
The best learning environments were places where it was relatively safe to just be. Easing my way through the system without too much stress is what I enjoyed. After all, it’s not merely about knowledge but rather how you were treated while it was being imparted to you.
Psalm 32:8 speaks. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
His loving eye is on us. Pray as He counsels which way we are to go. Amen.