Elementary school wasn’t easy for me. I struggled to read in Kindergarten and First Grade, I had to go to speech therapy for a lisp, and I had to wear corrective ugly shoes. That’s three strikes and your out in kid language. The kids made fun of me because I was different, and they didn’t want to be my friend. Add to that my reading difficulty, and it wasn’t good. I had two elementary teachers who made a huge difference in my life. I’m pretty sure neither of them is alive now, but I would still like to honor Miss Farmer and Miss Bybee.
Miss Farmer was my second grade teacher. It was a very difficult time for me. We had just moved because we needed to be closer to my dad’s work. He had started having seizures and wasn’t able to drive. Miss Farmer seemed old to me. I’m sure she wasn’t as old as I thought, but she was close to retirement. She taught me how to read. She used phonics even though most of the curriculum was Dick and Jane. Within the first quarter of school, I was caught up and passing people up. She opened a whole world to me through reading. She was one of the most loving teachers I had ever had. She did have some steel mixed in with her softness, and I needed that. When I did something wrong, she told me that I had done something wrong and gave me appropriate consequences. She would then let me know that she still cared about me. Mostly we didn’t do anything wrong because we didn’t want to disappoint her. Thank you Miss Farmer for introducing the whole world to me through a love of reading.
Miss Bybee was my fourth grade teacher for the first quarter of the year. She was firm but loving. She expected a lot from me because she knew that I could achieve it. She was the first teacher who ever told me how smart I was and that I could do anything that I wanted. She loved me enough to call me on it when I did something wrong. I wrote a note to a boy in class, and she found it. She told me that I was a lady and that ladies don’t chase boys. She also said that I was too smart to be chasing a boy. She made me focus on school, and she helped me to learn my strengths. I was heartbroken when I found out we were moving because it took away one of the most encouraging women for me.
I never saw either of these ladies again, but I still remember them almost 45 years later. They helped me to learn how strong I was, and that I could do anything that I put my mind too.