Remembering my school days…
I loved school growing up. I’m a proud product of public schools, and I was lucky to have so many smart, dedicated teachers. I can still recite their names and something about each and every one of them today.
It’s funny what school memories have stuck with me over the years: Miss Taylor reading to my first-grade class from Winnie-the-Pooh every morning. Miss Cappuccio, my second-grade teacher, challenging us to write from one to one thousand. It was an impossible task for our tiny hands, but the exercise taught me what it meant to follow through on big projects.
I was a classic tomboy all through elementary school. My fifth-grade class had the school’s most incorrigible boys, and when Mrs. Krause left the room, she would put me or one of the other girls in charge. As soon as the door closed behind her, the boys would start acting up. I got a reputation for being able to stand up to them, which may be why I was elected co-captain of the safety patrol for the next year.
Then there was my sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. King, who drilled us in grammar, but also encouraged us to think and write creatively. She would say “Hillary, don’t put your light under a bushel basket.” It took me a while to learn what that meant, but it has stayed with me. It was an assignment from Mrs. King that led me to write my first autobiography, which I later found in a box of papers after I left the White House.
My teachers helped to shape my childhood — and my future. When it was time to make one of the biggest decisions of my adult life — where to attend college — I got much needed guidance from two teachers, Misses Fahlstrom and Altman. Had it not been for their mentorship, I would not have considered “going East” to Wellesley. But they encouraged me to enroll in a college that would stretch my wings and my mind, and I’ll always be glad that I did.
Beginning in kindergarten and all the way through high school and college, my teachers were among the biggest influences in my life. I have always been grateful for all they did to challenge and support me. I’ll be thinking about them, and every teacher returning to the classroom, on the first day of school.
To all of our teachers: Thank you for all you do to guide our kids and inspire a lifelong love of learning. And to parents and students: Wishing you all a happy and successful school year!
Yesterday, I received a notification in Facebook that my old elementary school was soon to be demolished. I will admit that I was a little teary eyed thinking about it as this was a place where I met many people that have been major influences in my life, along with friends that I am still close to currently.
I decided to write about some of my memories of school, and as I do when I write in this blog, I just wrote. As I started to think back about my teachers, I decided to think of something about each one that I remember. Leaving that school almost 23 years ago, I was amazed at really how much my time at the school has influenced what I am doing today. I always loved school but I didn’t really realize how much until I wrote yesterday.
I thought I would share what I wrote in that post and hope that I can inspire others to think about their time in school and the impact their teachers had on them.
One of my first memories as a child was my mom walking me to school on the first day of kindergarten. I still can visualize the jacket I was wearing.I remember playing football and soccer in the fields pretty much every day we could. We would rush out and I remember my brother Alec always telling me how much I stunk from the sweat. I didn’t care because I could have played all day.
One memory I have was Kelly Bates making this amazing, one-handed catch in the front of the school playing football and we were all in awe. Who knew he would become a CFL player.
I remember auditioning for a play and telling Jay Kennedy that he would not get the part because his voice wasn’t low enough and he punched me in the nose. We still joke about it to this day.
So many good memories and friends from that place; many of whom I am still close with to this day.
Here is what I remember about my “Homeroom” Teachers:
Kindergarten – Mrs. Joan Stock (There is no better way to start school then with this teacher. She was just amazing.)
Grade 1 – Mrs. Batty (I remember how excited I was to print in her class; something that we take for granted now but was so special to me then)
Grade 2 – Ms. Debrune (I remember starting cursive in her class and thinking it was so cool.)
Grade 3 – Mrs Penrose (Inspired a love of music that I still have. Always taught us “Chisenbop” which I still use to count to 100 on my fingers. She wrote on my grade 8 report card, “Follow your dreams as you have the talent to take you anywhere you want to go.” Remember being teary eyed in how much she believed in me.)
Grade 4 – Mrs. Butler (My first crush! At the end of the year, she wrote everyone a card and told them something that was special about them. Better than any award I ever received.)
Grade 5 – Mrs. Sloan (White Elephant Sale! The year-end party at her house playing lawn bowling was legendary and was something every student in the school looked forward to before they were in grade 5.)
Grade 6 – Mrs. Buehler (Always firm but when you can get her to laugh, it was a great moment!)
Grade 7 – Mr. Moshinski (Probably one of the most influential teachers I ever had. He was always hard on us, but it was done out of pure love. He would sit and have some of the best conversations with us ever. They always meant so much to me.)
Grade 8 – Mr. Hill (Still a friend to this day; he was beyond cool and showed me that it is so important to connect with kids and share what you love with them. I bet him that the Lakers would beat the Sonics in the playoffs, and because he lost, I made him wear a sweater on one of the hottest days in spring. Still think how powerful that was.)
Principals for my time there were Mr. Schweitzer, who was my first coach and gave me a of love basketball. The “Century Classic” was my favourite tournament ever. If he did not help me find basketball, my life would have taken a totally different path.
Mrs. Carol Oleksyn who had to deal with me going through puberty and being a brat. I remember her saying that she would call my mom and that I didn’t care, but when she said she would call my dad, I would do anything. She always pushed us to be better and I don’t know what would have happened to any of us if we did not have her guidance.
Amazing that I can still remember that much about elementary school. Hopefully my students will remember me as fondly. What I realize writing this is that it is never a building that is important, but the people that make it feel like home. I will miss that place but am glad we will always be able to share our memories with one another.