My favorite teacher in all the earth was my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Husted. We had the best time in her class because she taught us, not only from books, but also with hands-on projects. I'm sure she was not the first teacher I had, nor the last, that taught this way, but she's the one I remember the best.
One day a week, probably Friday, we had poetry recital time after lunch. It could be a poem we made up, a poem we had memorized or a poem we found to read from a book. My friend Jana often recited her own poetry!
At Christmas, we studied Mexican traditions and spent the day in the gym. We held a posada, where Mary and Joseph went house to house, looking for a place to stay for Jesus birth, broke a pinata we made and ate a Mexican Feast.
At Thanksgiving, we made pilgrim costumes and wore them all day.
We had a luau. We learned about Hawaii and Mrs. Husted purchased whole coconuts and pineapple and other exotic fruits for us to try.
I remember a Tony Lama boot box full of toothpicks. It was added to every year for math class. I don't recall if we each had our own box of toothpicks to add, or if we added one box for the whole class. I just remember that there were a lot of toothpicks!
Mrs. Husted helped develop my taste in reading. She made suggestions, gave us lots of time to read and for our end of the year gift, we all received a beautiful copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses" with gold lettering on the cover!
I love those poems and read them over and over, memorizing many. Some I already knew. Mrs. Whitaker, my second grade teacher, had us memorize poetry for our weekly after lunch recitals!
At the Seaside: When I was down beside the sea, A wooden spade they gave to me, to dig the sandy shore. My holes were empty like a cup, in every hole the sea came up. till it could come no more.
I still love "Bed in Summer." It begins like this:
In winter I get up at night and dress by yellow candle light. In summer quite the other way, I have to go to bed by day.
Don't you remember when you were small and your mother made you go to bed so early in the summer? There was still plenty of daylight left to play in. The temperature had cooled down and when it was finally dark, it was a delight to lay back in the cool grass and look up at the stars.
And in winter, we had to get up early anyway because we rode the bus, that it seemed hours before the sun came up. Then we did our chores and ate supper in the dark!
Stevenson's poetry conveys the real essence of childhood to me. He portrays the frustrations of childhood, yet also writes verses of how good children should behave. He paints pictures of haymows and wind and rain and toys and all the things that children still play at.
Thank you, thank you, Mrs. Husted for my gift--the gift of a book--the gift of verse--the gift of a lifetime enjoyment of words.