When I was five, my parents and I went to visit my Aunt Florine in Millville, NJ. While we were there, she, a former teacher, took me to visit a kindergarten class taught by one of her friends.
As soon as we got home, I began playing school and was as addicted to it as any modern kid is addicted to video games. Sadly Medford did not offer kindergarten because of the war, but that didn’t stop me from playing school. And once I was in first grade, I played school before I went to school in the morning, when I came home for lunch (which we did in those days) and after school unless the weather allowed going outside.
I had a well-equipped classroom: teacher-type desk, lots of paper, pencils, paper clips, rulers, a chalkboard and chalk, red and blue marking pencils, and gold and silver stars.. I even had a staff liner for the chalkboard, a stapler, and a hole puncher. I also had a plan book fashioned from a work diary my Uncle Is gave me, and I made report cards from correspondence cards available at Woolworth’s. I had what served as a bulletin board so I could post excellent papers, some from my live pupils and some of which I did for my pretend pupils. Oh, and I had one of those “teacher bells” which I loved pounding.
My Uncle Sam kept me in supplies, and once I got in trouble because he had bought me a red marking pencil which I took to school. The teacher was incensed that I would have such a pencil when teachers couldn’t get them, again because of the war.
My most regular pupils were my teddy bear and my many dolls. I would read to them, “teach” them letters, numbers, and colors. But the most fun was when I could con my Aunt Dot or my mother into being my pupils. I was not easy on them. They endured homework, tests, and notes sent home. In one such note I sent Dot home with a note to her husband requesting that he help her with her cursive writing. His was a work of art, hers a scrawl. If both Dot and my mother were playing, they would get in trouble for whispering and giggling. Once I told my mother to whistle and then sent her out in the hall for doing so. She said, “But you told me to do it.”
When I was older, neighbors paid me to play school with their younger children because they thought I did a good job with math, especially.
So you can see that it is not unusual that after a career of 27 years in the classroom, I still love to teach, even if it is just subbing.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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