Thank You Mrs. Root! Archived Post 5.6.13

(Originally posted 5/6/13)

Thank you Mrs. Root…for teaching me Perspective and so much more…

(FYI…I’m talking about the school year 1966-1967….it was a different world….)Mrs. Root was my very first school teacher. (We didn’t do pre-school or nursery school back then…)

She must have been incredible because I have incredibly clear memories of her and her class. And they are all good ones…

Kindergarten was held in a separate building and we rode our own bus…no big kids to help us or to intimidate us. (although maybe that would have kept Patrick from biting a big chunk out of my friend’s leg on the way home one day….but that is another story.)

It was only a half-day, maybe even only two hours, but it seems that we did a million things each day when we were there. To me, it was is was heaven. It was beautifully clean and organized, each area labeled and organized. We learned to take care of every pair of scissors, every paste jar, every circle-time mat. It meant that we were big enough to handle those jobs.

There was a glorious job chart that changed often so that we each had a chance to have the best jobs. (Actually, I don’t remember there being any really bad jobs, but some were more highly-coveted.) I loved being in charge of the scissors center….on those days it was my job to make sure that every pair was returned to it’s holder, always point down and the finger holes lined up like an army of keys ready and waiting to open any door. I had a hearty disdain for the pasting table where my male classmates were messy and smeared paste on the table like finger paint and dared each other to eat it in large quantities.

Of course the most-coveted job was line-leader and if you were lucky enough to have a birthday during the school year, you were guaranteed to be the line leader on your special day!! (On the other hand, I had an elementary school gym teacher who had the class line up in two straight lines on your birthday so that we could run through the line as quickly as we could so that the class could give us our birthday spankings!! Like I said, it was another era…)

Forty-five years later, I still have several momentos of kindergarten. The first is a hand print cast in Plaster of Paris and spray-painted gold with my name and 1966 scratched into the back with a pencil in five-year old sprawl. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill hand casting….it’s in reverse!! We made a cast first, and then a cast of the cast so that each line of my hand stands out in clear relief against the plaster. Mrs Root always went above and beyond…and she encouraged us to think outside of the box.

My most prized possession however is yellow and black. It is the cut-out of a yellow sneaker and it has my name on it. There are actual laces on the sneaker made from household string and I tied that bow myself. I was so proud!!! When we could tie a bow on our own shoes…the real way, not bunny ears, not in Mrs. Root’s class….she encouraged us and encouraged us until we could do it…she had us tie one on our school sneaker and she posted our sneakers for all to see. Every adult and child who came into the room checked to see who had a new sneaker on the board and found that child to shake hands with him or her. It was a proud, proud tradition.

I’m sure that there were many wonderful lessons in her classroom but I have a crystal clear memory of one particular day. It was circle time and we were all gathered at her feet to talk about the calendar and the weather and to hear a story.

Then, she asked one of the boys in the class to stand up. She asked us to look at him with one eye closed and then “measure” him with our thumb just under his feet and The pad of our forefinger on top of his head. We had to hold our hands in that position and compare them with our circle neighbor. Then she had us close our eyes (with our fingers still in the measured position) and she asked our classmate to go to the farthest corner of the room. On the count of three we were to open our eyes and check our finger measurements again. One, two, three……????????

I still remember the shock of seeing this little tiny person in front of me. How could that be?!! I knew that he wasn’t that small!! How did he get so small?!! The class exploded with questions.

“That,” explained the amazing Mrs. Root “is called Perspective.”


Can you imagine?!! She figured out how to teach that to kindergartners. Our minds blew up.

Every one of us wanted to be “measured” to see if it would happen to us too. She let each one of us be measured. One by one we came back from the other corner of the room, assuring the class, and ourselves, that we hadn’t shrunk and then grown back like Alice in Wonderland….even though in their eyes it appeared so.

I’ve never forgotten it. Still blows my mind.

Thank you Mrs. Root. You were an amazing teacher.

with love,

P.S. If you want a glimpse into what kindergarten was like then, I hope that you can find a copy of the children’s book, “I Like Kindergarten” written by Clara Cassidy and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. (first published by Golden Book in 1965) It was one of my favorite books then, and still very special to me now.

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