late mother-in-law thought of September as the “real” New Year because
of the number of programs and classes starting. By Labor Day, school is
back in session for most of us in the U.S., although there is great variation by region (my children don’t return
until Sept. 7th!). To mark this, we bring you the Back to School Friday
1. What is your earliest memory of school?
My earliest memory is *anticipating* school. When I was 4, my church started a preschool. Someone made the mistake of telling me about it around my birthday, in May, and I woke up every morning of that summer asking my mother, "Does school start today?" My poor mother. I don’t know if I would have been so excited if the school hadn’t been at church. I loved loved loved church.
2. Who was a favorite teacher in your early education?
That would be Mrs. Kersey, the minister’s wife, later an acknowledged expert on Early Childhood Education. She went back to school, got a doctorate, wrote books, appeared on Oprah, founded a highly desirable lab school at the local university and proved to be just as spectacular a person as I knew her to be when I was 4. She was pretty and kind and I wanted to be her when I grew up. We learned to sing Jingle Bells in Latin. It was pretty great. I also had a crush on her son, but that’s a story for another day.
3. What do you remember about school “back then” that is different from what you know about schools now?
Hmm. Well, we didn’t have computers. I remember the New Math, which made absolutely no sense. What do we have now?
4. Did you have to memorize in school? If so, share a poem or song you learned.
I’m a little young for the days of reciting, but I learned lots and lots of music by heart. At St. Agnes School, which I attended for grades 1-7, we had a wonderful old music teacher those first few years whose name I remember as being Mr. Trondson. (It’s possible I’m inventing this spelling, since I don’t think I ever saw it written down.) He was a tall man who resembled Fred Gwynne. My absolute favorite song to sing with him was "Catalina Matalina." I just Googled it hopng to confirm the lyrics, but its nonsense terms don’t seem to remembered the same way by any two people. I do remember that "She had two teeth in the middle of her mouth. One pointed north and the other pointed south." That used to worry me. But I loved singing it anyway. "Catalina Matalina Hoopensteiner Walla Walla…"
5. Did you ever get in trouble at school? Were there any embarrassing moments you can share?
Um. Yes. I spent most of 4th grade being sent to the office of the Director of the Lower School, a woman who must have been 8 feet tall. Once while waiting for her there I went out of the room to use the bathroom and tried to turn out the light. Except that I set off the fire alarm instead. (I really didn’t mean to. It looked like a light switch. It was up high. You don’t believe me, do you?) In 5th grade, one of the girls teased me about having kicked the 4th grade teacher in the shin. If so, I’m sorry to her, but I honestly don’t remember doing it.
Then, I skipped a grade. On the way in for the first day of 7th grade, walking with my mother, I ran into some of my new classmates who knew me from Girl Scouts. They said, "Songbird, we hear you’re going to be in 7th grade!" My mother, thinking they were from my old class, said, "Yes, but save a place for her in case she decides to come back."
There. Was that embarassing enough?
Feel free to snag this meme, and let me know in the comments if you play.