**In my packing frenzy I have uncovered many forgotten things. This is part of an essay I wrote in college for my student teaching practicum. In honor of Teacher Appreciation this week I thought I'd share it here.
On top of an enormous hill surrounded by lush Kentucky bluegrass stands a solitary red brick building like a beacon in the storm. Allen Elementary was my second home for seven years and I knew every nook and cranny-which bathroom stall did not have locks, which tiles were coming loose and which library was the best corner to curl up with a book. Sometimes it was a safe haven in a sea of pain, loss, and confusion. Other times it was a miserable reminder of the person I could never be, a place where I felt loved and accepted. It was a place that is forever etched in my memory.
When I entered Allen Elementary in August 1975 at the tender age of four and a half, I was among an elite group. It was the first time public kindergarten was available in Kentucky. At the time, Lexington's population was approximately 150,000 and growing rapidly. Allen Elementary had about 350 students from kindergarten through sixth grade. It was located in a a predominantly white middle-class neighborhood, though African-American students were bussed in.
Celia Smith was my most beloved teacher during the elementary years. She taught first grade and I idolized her. I will forever recall her from the prospective of a six-year old. She was tall, pretty and always smelled good-a mixture of wildflowers, waxy Crayolas, Elmer's school glue, and cookies. She smiled often and her arms were made for wrapping small children with love. She made each of us feel like we were extraordinarily special, as if each of us were her very favorite student. She made learning fun, encouraged questions, and celebrated our accomplishments each and every day.
Third grade was a difficult year for me, made harder by an indifferent, passionless, tired Mrs. Marks. She was extremely traditional, strict, and inflexible.We had to do timed multiplication drills and if we made a mistake we were required to complete it in front of the class until we got the right answer. Multiplication was my downfall and I suffered through what seemed like hours of humiliation at the hands of the rigid Mrs. Marks. This experience made me feel inadequate, powerless, and stupid. I learned to stop asking questions, and do things EXACTLY as I was told. My self-esteem plummeted and I dreaded each school day.
Ever since I can remember I have wanted to be a teacher. It has been my dream to make a difference in the life of a child, to make each person feel important and special. As a small child I was inspired and awed by the glamorous world of teaching. I followed my teachers around begging and pleading for extra worksheets, old textbooks and workbooks. I still remember a torn and tattered copy of Instructor, which provided hours of entertainment. I had a classroom set up in my basement complete with school desks and a blackboard. My younger brother was an eager and enthusiastic student and entered kindergarten able to read, write, add and subtract.