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Reliving the Fourth Grade

Posted Nov 21 2008 9:32pm

As part of national education awareness week, the parents in our neighborhood were invited to stop by our kids' classes so we could observe how they were progressing. My son's visit was a cinch - I popped by during a Thanksgiving brunch and shot the breeze with the other moms and dads who broke away from work to spend some time with their kids who were busy devouring corn muffins, cookies and turkey bacon (holy cholesterol).

The following morning, I was instructed by my daughter that I had better visit her class or risk a major guilt trip. You see, I was supposed to stop by two days earlier, but forgot to read the memo and so, I waltzed into her reading class on a Thursday morning and was the only mom there.

After I stole a surreptitious glance at my Blackberry and then officially powered it down, I noticed you could literally hear a pin drop in the room. And as I watched my daughter's teacher in action, I realized she reminded me of my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Saul. Both women seemed to have one thing in common - they were strict taskmasters.

Talk out of turn and you're doomed. Don't follow instructions and you'll be repeating your assignment until you get it right. And if you're slouching in your chair - you'll get in trouble for that one too. But despite the rules, I really liked her style - those kids knew they had to be on their best behavior and more importantly, had to pay attention in order to master their work. And you know what? That's exactly what Mrs. Saul did. I remember vividly how lots of kids in my class would get reprimanded (especially the ones who called me Stubby Beth - I guess I'll never let those kids live that one down). But I also remember that how Mrs. Saul encouraged creativity and academic excellence even though we were only in the fourth grade.

Mrs. Saul was the one teacher in elementary school who not only saw that I had promise as a student, but she took me under her wing and with her recommendation, placed myself and three other students in a more challenging class the following year. And with her vote of confidence, we all rose to the occasion and literally soared. As strict as she was, Mrs. Saul was a champion of children who worked hard and exhibited potential and for that, I am eternally grateful.

One of my favorite memories from Mrs. Saul's class were the dozens of poems we wrote that year. In fact, there's one poem in particular that's forever etched in my memory. It may not a Pulitzer Prize winner, but take a look and let me know what you think. As I watch my own daughter developing into an incredible writer (her teachers asked if we could clone her so I guess we're doing something right), I am so proud that she is rising to the occasion and proving she is capable of anything and everything.

And without further ado, here's my fourth grade poem (can't wait to share one of Becca's real soon).

My dog would have a bone,
That would be hard to gnaw,
And I'd scream in a loud tone,
On the pooper scooper law,

My dog would be such fun,
And we would be so happy,
He would not weigh a ton,
And his name would be Pappy,

But my dream will not come true,
And my parents won't agree,
I'd cry and say "Boo hoo"
But there'll be no dog for me.

Now if that's not classic poetry, I don't know what is.

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