Do you remember your kindergarten teacher? I remember mine. And my first day of school, too. I’d been anticipating it for a whole year. My brother who was just 11 months older than me, and the one that I was extremely close to, had started kindergarten the year before and his absence had been felt. As long as he’d been around at home to hang out with, I didn’t mind so much; but once he’d joined that academic world, I wanted to join it, too.
September 1970 finally arrived and so did my first day of school! I practically raced my mother there. She kept calling to me to slow down. I didn’t. I had no issue with leaving home, or being separated from her, and no problem adjusting to a new environment. I was overjoyed! I remember that first glimpse of my teachers (there were two but I only really remember one). I thought they were beautiful and believed they knew everything. The one I remember was named Miss Brennan and she had long brown, silky hair. She was wearing a pretty mini dress (it was the 70s, after all) and those exceedingly popular Dr Scholl's exercise sandals that were all the rage back then.
I detached myself from my mother immediately and waved her away. I wanted to go inside the school and begin learning to read and write so I could enjoy stories in books and know everything...just like my teachers did. Miss Brennan spoke to all the children, asking our names, how we were and generally trying to get to know us. I was beaming when she looked my way and asked who I was. And even though I was terribly shy as I child, I didn’t feel that way with her. I told her my name, and also told her that I could spell it. “I even know my alphabet”, I said to her. She smiled and my heart skipped a beat. I had learned quite a few things from my older siblings and from gluing myself to those educational programs on the television, particularly Sesame Street, and I was eager to put it all to use.
Later that day, when the teachers wrote our names on construction paper, placed them on the floor and asked us to identify our own, I quickly scanned through them and pointed to the one that I knew was my own. My teacher complimented me on a job well done and I was overjoyed that I had been able to do this. This may not seem like much of an accomplishment from a 5-year-old in today’s standards, but back then it was. Children were left to be children when I was growing up. You played and enjoyed your childhood; there was no pressure to become a rocket scientist by the time you entered kindergarten, so it was perfectly normal to start school and not know your alphabet, or even how to spell your name.
Kindergarten was undemanding and a lot of fun, and I still remember certain things about that first year. We worked on arts and crafts many times and I constantly had something ready to give to my mother when she picked me up after school. Of course, like any other parent, she thought I was brilliant, the next Picasso, and praised me for everything that I created. My father never failed to applaud my achievements and to make it a point of expressing how proud he was of the wonderful work I was doing at school. He called me his “little teacher”.
That first year opened up a whole new wonderful world to me. Do you remember when you first started school?