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Memoirs

Meeting Mr. Darragh

It was 1966 when I entered second grade. I was tasked with keeping up with my brother Allen on the school bus, making sure he was on it in the afternoon and that he got off the bus in the morning once we arrived at school. He and I were often mistaken for twins, but he is fourteen months younger than I am, so he was in the first grade.

Wasn’t I a dumpling?

My teacher that year was Mrs. Russell, and I fast became one of her favorites. Or at least I thought I was. Maybe every one of her students had the same thought. She chose me to help her make bulletin board pictures, placed me in reading group one (bluebirds, or something of that sort–everyone knew we were the smartest), and sometimes kept me in the room during the last recess to be her helper.

One day as I was working at my desk, a tall slender man with black-rimmed glasses came into the classroom with Principal Moore. Mr. Moore was getting up in years with plans to retire. The man who had come in with him would be our new principal the next school year.

Mr. Darragh spoke to Mrs. Russell and then knelt down by my desk. What was he doing? I’m sure my face turned red, being singled out like that.

“What’s your name, young lady?” he asked, and after I told him, he told me what a pretty little girl I was and what a beautiful name I had. From that point on, Mr. Darragh would go out of his way to talk to me and even took an interest in what I planned to do with my life later on. Once, when I was in high school and saw him in the school cafeteria, he told me he thought I would make an excellent teacher. At the time I had no intention of being a teacher, but God had different plans, and He hinted at them through Mr. Darragh’s remark.

Mr. Darragh, 1968

Second grade was a fun, innocent year of becoming a fast reader, moving to a new house, chasing and being chased by boys on the playground, and enjoying just being a kid growing up in the country. I was blissfully unaware of the Vietnam War, civil rights unrest, the shooting rampage at the University of Texas in Austin, or the marriage of Elvis Presley to Priscilla Beaulieu.

Did you have a fun second grade experience?

XOXO

Categories
Memoirs

Teacher’s Pet

When I was in second grade, my friends told me I was the teacher’s pet. I didn’t really think of myself as such, but I was the one Mrs. Russell chose to keep in during recess at the end of the day to help her with projects such as putting up bulletin boards, cutting out things, cleaning erasers, or doing errands for her.  



That’s me in the circle and Mrs. Russell with the tall hair standing.

 You can see the book characters on the wall. 

That year we had recess after lunch, and then a quiet time where we would rest our heads on our desks and listen to the teacher read to us.  My favorite book that she read was The Wizard of Oz.  She had put characters from the book on the wall and I would study them every day.  I was so enamored with the story and so eager to know what happened next that I persuaded my parents to buy me a copy of the book. Soon I found myself the proud owner of the Whitman version of the book which I believe I read in one weekend.


Another thing I remember about reading in elementary school was the SRA reading kit.  SRA stands for Science Research Associates.  During SRA time, we would go to the SRA box on the counter in the classroom, pick a folded card with a reading selection and then we would be tested over the reading.  If we scored high enough on the reading test, we could advance to the next color.  If not, we had to select another story in the same color.  Being kind of an overachiever, I would rush through the reading, take the test, and see if I could advance faster than anyone else.  I was in the top reading group, after all.


Back in the 60’s we were all divided into reading groups based on our abilities.  Though the groups were named benignly after birds or colors, there was no doubt in our minds which group was the smartest, which was the middle, and which was the slowest.  And since there were no classroom teacher aides, we were expected to work on an assignment at our desks while the teacher had a reading group at a table in the back of the room.  No one misbehaved during that group time because no one wanted to be the recipient of a swing from the teacher’s paddle or a visit to the principal’s office.  There was real fear in those days.  I think it had something to do with the fact that you would catch it at home as well.


So  I was smart.  Miss Goody-Two-Shoes.  The girl who followed the rules.  The girl who got to stay in from recess and help the teacher.   Teacher’s pet.  What about you?  Were you the teacher’s pet?  

XOXO