Just three days before I started the second grade, I saw “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” I loved Indiana Jones so much I used to reenact scenes. My favorite was the fight on the truck from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” You know the one where he gets thrown out the windshield and crawls along the bottom of the truck. He then uses his whip as a rope and drags himself back into the truck to whoop some Nazis ass! I did a pretty good re-enactment of that scene with a jump rope and my bed post. It was epic!! Although, disappointed that no Nazis were hurt, or even visible in Temple of Doom, I enjoyed it. That’s why when my mom took us shopping for school clothes, I just had to find a whip! J.C. Penny’s didn’t sell whips, however, I did find an “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom belt!” You’re damn right I bought it! On first day of school, I found myself in room 104 of Parkview Elementary. The teacher was Mrs. McD. Previously, I had Mrs. Cranky and I was not that thrilled about school. Mrs. Cranky had acted just like her name towards me. Mrs. McD entered the room and her smile was contagious.
After introducing herself asked if anyone would like to introduce themselves. Now if you know me, you know that I’m shy and don’t like draw attention to myself. Okay, 0kay, you caught me there. I leaped at the opportunity to introduce myself. I jumped out of my seat and said, “I’m Indiana Jones!” Then whipped my belt off in a very sad and frail attempt at cracking a whip. I was 8 years old, what do you want? The whole class laughed at my stupidity and I new that this teacher was going to be mad! Mrs. Cranky would have hacked up pflem in a napkin and told me to stick my nose in the corner. But the strangest thing happened. The teacher laughed. “Are you yanking my chain? You’re not Dr. Jones. Where’s your hat?” I was baffled. She knew about Dr. Jones! I said my real name and she smiled and winked. “I knew you were fooling me.” As she went on talking to the other kids, I made up my mind that she was my favorite teacher and I was never disappointed with that decision.
Mrs. McD was an amazing teacher. She brought school to life not just for me but for everyone. She never treated one student differently than anyone else and in the rare moment she was upset, you felt guilty because you knew it was your fault. She had this really cool thing called the 104 News. It was a class newspaper that everyone got to participate in. She would where a Fedora inserted with a 3×5 note card with the word PRESS written on it! We all had assignments and could submit articles. I wrote a very interesting think piece on why only pizza should be served in the cafeteria. I think it went something like,”Pizza is the greatest food ever, but only if it is has sausage on it. I hate green things on my pizza.” Come on, who else could be inspired to write such poetry? Mrs. McD, treated everyone’s articles with the same enthusiasm as everyone else’s. While classmates tried to tell a girl that her article on borrowing with subtraction problems might put readers to sleep, Mrs. McD, would let us know that it may be good idea to include some self help in math. We all agreed!
Everyone loved her and she loved all of her students. One morning, we learned that a former student of hers died of Leukemia. Mrs. McD tried to fight through the tears, but to no avail. We all came up to hug her and let her know that we were there for her. After having a much deserved moment she bounced back strong, juggling erasers in her hands for a math lesson. What phenomenal teacher she was! Her classroom was what teaching should look like.
Through middle school and even high school, we always took the time to stop by her house and say hello. We all liked talking to her and we didn’t mind if others tried to do the same. When you are room 104… you are 104 for life! She even saw me perform in high school theater. I told her how much I wanted to be a movie star. That I wanted to study acting at Indiana University. She would tell me what the best theatre programs were and that IU had one of the ten best in the nation!
During college I would come back to Planet Granite (hometown) to visit friends. We would got to IHOP to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. There were a bunch of us together and in walked Mrs. McD and that warm contagious smile! She told her husband she will be right back and then came over to visit with us. We immediately extinguished our cigarettes, got rid of the ashtrays, and minded our language in honor of Mrs. McD. We laughed and reminisced for a time and then she politely met back up with her husband. I will never forget how nice it was to see her on my last night in town.
Years later, due to low numbers, Parkview closed. Mrs. McD, eventually retired I believe. I have not spoken to her since that night at IHOP. Two failed movie stardom attempts and a terrorist attack on US soil later, I became a teacher. I wonder what she would think of that. I wonder how she would feel to know just how inspirational she was to me in becoming a teacher. I may not have the D103 news, but I still try to match her enthusiasm and love for her students. Here’s to you Mrs. McD! You are the first to be recognized at Tales From The Red Pen.
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