Her name was Miss R and she was my teacher from 1969-1973 during some very formative years. You might be asking how that's even possible, to have had the same teacher for four grades and I often wondered that, too. In that small Lutheran grade school, there were eleven kids in my class (eight boys, three girls) until sixth grade, when Debbie W moved in. As you know, eleven isn't a very big class, but eleven plus eleven is, so each teacher taught two grades. Side by side.
You've undoubtedly heard me tell that I got to spend grades one and two with my Great Aunt Norma. She saw something special in me and brought out the best in me. When a student was struggling to understand a concept, or if she'd been out sick and missed it all together, Aunt Norma would send me to the little library at the entrance of her room and let me teach her and/or get him caught up. She championed my gifts and made me feel like her favorite.
It wasn't exactly like that with Miss R. I'm not sure she saw the potential that Aunt Norma did. I am sure that she did not want me teaching her class. I was kind of scared of Miss R and a little frustrated that she did not see my gift of gab as a gift at all. When she'd call me out into the hall to fuss and holler at me, her jaw would clench and her cheeks would redden as they shook until I'd cry. Then she'd tell me to go splash cold water on my face and try to be quiet when I came back into the room. That's why I was really excited when, after grades three and four with her, I heard that she was moving.
But I started dancing prematurely, y'all. Miss R was moving all right. But not moving away. Moving up. To fifth and sixth. With my class. With me. So we had her for third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. That's a long time to walk on egg shells.
And to be quiet.
Thing is, my memories of Miss R aren't all bad. In fact, I learned that hard work pays off - figuratively and literally - on her watch. For every A I earned, I got a stamp. It would come paper-clipped onto my papers in a clear little envelope like this:
I still get all goose-bumpy when I think about having earned this magnificent stamp. And Miss R's stamp of approval obviously meant something to me; it's been almost 45 years and look what I found when I was cleaning this weekend:
They were big and small from all over the world. They were square and rectangular, triangular and diamond-shaped. I had two books that I could tape them into. I remember searching fervently through the pages to match up the stamp I'd earned with its picture in the book. One thing's for sure;
I worked hard to make As in Miss R's class!
I saw Miss R about a dozen years back, when I went to a breakfast Bible Study with my Grandma Natzke. We talked about how much those stamps meant to me and how I had a daughter in third grade who had taken an interest in my now-browned stamp collection. It was nice to see her again.
A few weeks later, Kaitlyn got a letter in the mail from Wisconsin,
in handwriting that was only familiar to me.
Inside there was a heartwarming letter from Miss R.
And ... you guessed it ... a few stamps.