I entered my first grade class with my head held high. After a summer that seemed to last an eternity, I could finally say I was officially out of kindergarten and moving into grade school! No more round carpet, I would have my very own desk to sit at this year. No more nap time, I would have real recess outside in the yard with the big hill, and the big kids! Today was the first day of the rest of my life.

My mom helped me locate my very own desk. It wasn’t that hard. I recognized my name taped to the top of it. Alexis R. I wondered why my name always seemed to randomly have the letter R attached to it at school. Other kids got cool letters, like the girl sitting beside me, Lucia B. B was a great letter, it was right at the top of the alphabet! R was so boring, I’d had been stuck with it for 3 years in a row now.

“Bye Lexi!” My mom said kissing me on the top of my head. I was too busy digging into my backpack to get my pencil case, so I could put my three sparkly pencils in the pencil spot on my desk. I barely looked up to say goodbye. My mom talked to the teacher at her desk for a few minutes before leaving to go to work.

After my pencils were in place, I sat in awe, taking in the entire classroom. It was so amazing! The walls were covered in pictures and words and charts! I loved charts. I wondered what they were for. I recognized a calendar with birthday cakes all over it in random spots. One of the cakes had my name on it! On top of the blackboard was an alphabet with animals to illustrate the letters. A was for alligator. I’d seen them at a mini-golf course in Florida, that summer. There was a corner filled with colourful books. I couldn’t wait to look at them. Beside the books were at least three board games I’d never played before, and one I had. I loved board games!

At the door I spotted my friend from kindergarten, Hank Popawicz with his mom. His eyes were red and puffy. I wondered what he could possibly be crying about on the first day of first grade. His mom said something to him in another language, then gave him a kiss goodbye. As she turned to leave, he latched onto her left leg and yelled, “mama, nooo!!!”

My eyes widened. I couldn’t believe he was being such a baby! Crying might have been okay in Junior, and maybe even Senior kindergarten, but now we were in grade one! We couldn’t be crying and causing a scene. That was unacceptable. The teacher had heard his outburst and was headed across the room right toward him! Uh oh. He was in trouble now.

But to my complete surprise, the teacher nor his mother seemed upset with him. Nobody was yelling at him to get off the floor, or to stop making a spectacle of himself. Nobody seemed mad at all. That confused me. The teacher knelt down, whispered something in Hank’s ear, and suddenly he looked reassured. He stopped sobbing, stood up and nodded. She flashed him her perfect smile and took him by the hand to his seat. I figured she must be the nicest person in the whole entire world.

She was definitely the most beautiful person in the whole entire world. My kindergarten teachers had both been pudgy old women who wore dress pants, old lady sweaters and loafers. This teacher was different. First of all, she was young, I guessed about 20 years old. And she didn’t wear boring clothes. She was wearing a lilac blouse and a long black flowy skirt, with black high heels, just like my Barbies wore! She had flowing black hair, pale skin and a mole above her lip, just like me! I wondered if I would grow up to look and dress like her. I sure hoped so. She looked like she could be a princess, or maybe even the pink Power Ranger, who was the absolute coolest girl.

“Good morning boys and girls,” she finally greeted us, standing in the middle of the room.

“Good morning Ms Donimato,” we chorused. It felt good to be back at school.

She started explaining all the wonderful things that would happen. This year, we would learn how to read! I needed to learn how to read so badly. My brother knew how to read, and he would always tease me about it. Sometimes, when we were playing on his Gameboy, messages would pop up and he wouldn’t even tell me what they said! It wasn’t fair! This year, I was going to learn how to read those messages too.

She walked over to a corner of the room and picked up a round bowl and held it up for us to see. There was a real fish in there!! A goldfish! His name was Sonny and he would be our class goldfish for the whole year! Every week, one student would have the responsibility to feed the goldfish! I couldn’t wait until it was my turn. It would be like having a pet. When I was little, like 4 years old, we used to have birds as pets, but we had to give them away because I was allergic. That was so sad. Now we had a class fish. I was so happy.

Next she showed us a plastic purple briefcase. Inside was a Curious George plush toy, a camera, and a notebook. Every Friday, one student would get to take George home with them for the weekend, write sentences about what they did with him and take pictures of it! The following Monday, that student would have to present their weekends with George to the class. I absolutely couldn’t wait to take George home. I couldn’t wait to show Ms Donimato my grandparents’ house and my Abuela and Abuelo. I couldn’t wait to see my classmates’ grandparents, and how they spent their weekends.

I decided pretty quickly that Ms Donimato had the best job ever. She got to be in charge of creating and organizing all these amazing activities and systems. She got to decide everything. She got to listen to all of our stories. She had access to all the books and games, and she could probably take them home whenever she wanted! She could do whatever she wanted.

Although I was already pretty impressed, it wasn’t until later that day that I realized she probably had unlimited access to endless amounts of school supplies; pencils, markers, crayons, maybe even pens! Upon that realization was when I decided that I wanted to be a teacher too when I grew up.

1995

8 thoughts on “The Teacher

      1. Good for you. I dedicated my first book, The Perils of Heavy Thinking, to my 10th grade English teacher and to al the elementary school teachers who read aloud to their students, instilling the joy and wonder of books.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. What impressed me was how detailed your memory is. That’s an awesome asset for a writer. Thanks for this sketch; it took me out of myself for a few moments. Your images and descriptions are clear and fresh, as if you were re-experiencing childhood for real. I love your positiveness, your innocence. My life and writing are often dark and depressed. I only recently stopped drinking; today was the seventh day sober. It’s hard because I don’t know what to do with myself. However, I’ve begun attending the Lutheran church down the road. I found out that my family’s concept of God doesn’t have to be mine. My own Lutheran God is just as adequate. My sister is a stoic; I love to have fun. We can’t stand each other, and that’s no one’s fault… I hope you have a pleasant Tuesday. Thanks again for this sketch. Keep publishing them. And I’m proud of your teaching job. Do you teach English to French speakers? Here in Eugene, there are many Hispanics. The demand is for Spanish tutors. When I feel up to it, I might try volunteering at that.

    Liked by 2 people

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