I have to say that when it comes to my memories of school, I have what you call a love-hate relationship with it. I loved learning. I loved art class. I loved field trips. I hated being treated like garbage by some of my peers, and a couple of teachers. Mostly it was fine.
And when it comes down to teachers, there are some that were more memorable than others.
One of those teachers would have to be my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Moore. Let me tell you all about her.
The year was 1990. Kindergarten Cop, Ghost, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were huge hits at the box office. Madonna taught us all how to vogue. Milli Vanilli was about to have their fall from grace courtesy of the lip-synching scandal. And we all secretly wondered how many squirrels we could shove inside MC Hammer's gigantic pants.
(Well, okay. I was wondering that. I was a strange 9-year-old and make no apologies for it either.)
Anyway, at my elementary school, fourth grade was a big deal. It was the first time I ever had a classroom on the second floor of the school (the classrooms in the lower levels were K-3), and I must say that it was the first time I really felt sort of grown up. Who knew that a flight of stairs could make a huge difference in how mature you thought you were!
I admit that I was very excited about fourth grade, but I was also very nervous. Fourth grade was great because it was the first year that we were allowed to have computer time by ourselves (prior to grade four, we always had to be paired up with a partner). It was also the year that we were allowed to sign up for lunchtime activities such as playing sports in the gym. Fourth grade offered a lot of freedom that we just didn't have in third grade. After all, fourth grade was the gateway year for sex education class. At least, it was in my school, anyway.
But I was also a huge fan of the then new show "The Simpsons", and I remember thinking that Bart's teacher, Mrs. Krabappel was one mean teacher. It didn't dawn on me until years later why she was that way, and she inevitably became one of my favourite Simpsons characters, but back in fourth grade, I was terrified that I would have a teacher just like her.
Fortunately, from the moment I met Mrs. Moore, I was instantly relieved. She was definitely one of my favourite teachers.
And here's why.
She was never really afraid of taking things too seriously. Sure, she could be a strict disciplinarian when she had to be - I remember we had a couple of out of control kids in my classroom that year that tested her patience (as well as everyone else in the class) - but she always knew how to have a laugh.
I still remember when we had our class Halloween party and she dressed up in what I think was a farmer costume, and she told us ghost stories and she was really fantastic at story telling too! I think a couple of kids in the class even got a little scared!
But she was also a fantastic teacher who unlike a lot of the other teachers at my school really focused on playing to our strengths. She would have listening activities, reading activities, and kinesthetic activities available so that we could all have a chance to improve on skills and to help us focus on the best way we absorb information.
Me? I'm a kinesthetic learner. I have to learn things by doing them.
Another thing I will say about Mrs. Moore was that she was probably the one teacher that I remember who really seemed to notice just what level everyone was at in the class, and assigned them work that corresponded with that level. I still remember that for the first few months of the school year, we were assigned reading kits, and each of us were given a different colour to start off at. That colour represented a level of reading skill.
I remember the colour that I started with was violet. And people who were in the violet group were assumed to read at a Grade 8 level. I think it was myself and one other person in the class who began at that level. Of course, the tradeoff was that the violet kids didn't have as much teacher-student interaction as say, the tan level, who was Grade 5, or the lime level, which was Grade 3. It would have been nice to have had more input from the teacher to know if I was handling the workload well. But I guess I must have done okay with it, if she wasn't concerned.
Really, I remember fourth grade being a year in which I did well in every subject except for two - math and physical education. But since they were my two worst subjects, I didn't really care that much.
I think I also have some random moments from fourth grade that I'd like to share below.
- Mrs. Moore reading a postcard that a friend of mine wrote to the class after his family relocated up north. It was good to hear that he was doing well, though I often wondered what happened to Jeff. It's been 25 years since he moved away, and I hope he's doing well, even if he doesn't remember who the hell I am!
- I also remember Mrs. Moore showing us "The Little Mermaid" during our Valentine's Day party, and I even remember liking it at the time. I think 1991 was also the year I last liked Valentine's Day, come to think of it!
- For some reason, I remember art class being one of those classes where I think she could have shown a little more originality. Whereas other classes would have epic projects, ours were basically drawing pictures all period long. Fortunately, I had an endless supply of Laurentian pencil crayons to last me the whole school year.
- My town also had a small earthquake during my fourth grade year, and I remember that we spent part of class talking about it. I wish I could have had a lot more to say about it, but I slept through the whole thing!
I'm sure there are other memories that I have of fourth grade, but I'm not really remembering them at the moment. But one thing I do remember was that Mrs. Moore was definitely one of the better teachers that I had, and you could tell that she loved her job very much.
Well, I just found out that a couple of days ago, Mrs. Moore passed away at the age of 69, and I remember feeling very sad when I heard the news. She was an excellent teacher - one of the few that I always held in high regard, and part of the reason why this was the case was because she really took the time to know her students. She had a keen eye on which students got the material and which students did not, and she wasn't above giving students extra help who needed it, or providing more challenging options for people who required it.
She was a teacher that I wish more would strive to be like.