Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Goodbye, Miss Ewens

I found out today my fourth grade teacher, Miss Ewens, passed away yesterday morning (the morning of July 4th... I realize my being up so late may cause confusion as to what day is what).

I'm one of those people who holds a special place in his heart for his teachers, especially the elementary school ones. I could wax on as I am wont to do about Miss Ewens, but instead I think I'll just share some memories from fourth grade.

I remember Miss Ewens teaching us to sing "Green, Green Grass of Home", and what a sad song I thought that was.

I remember in fourth grade I had the job of checking the fire exit that was in our cloak room every morning, to make sure it was unlocked.

In fourth grade, Miss Ewens sometimes gave us story starters, and our task was to finish the stories. It was one of my favorite things to do.

In fourth grade, I got in trouble for repeating something mean someone had said to an elderly woman. Actually, I didn't get into trouble, but Miss Ewens let me know in no uncertain terms I was not to repeat such mean things (I think the phrase "you old bat" was part of the story).

In fourth grade, Johnny Joe Riechard wrote "The Best" on his reading workbook, but misspelled it, so it said "The Beast".

I think it was in fourth grade that I won the "most creative" award for my Valentines box.

It was in fourth grade that, during a discussion about a special about bigfoot that had been on television the night before, I pointed out that if we keep destroying the forests, eventually we'll know for sure if there's a bigfoot or not, because there will be no more forests for him to hide in. I remember very clearly Miss Ewens' reaction to my saying this, and I could tell it made her sad.

I'm pretty sure it was in Miss Ewens' class that we read (or she read to us) Henry and Ribsy or some other Beverly Cleary book, and I remember getting a few others through the book orders we had that year.

In fourth grade, one of the few low grades I got was in handwriting.

I can't remember what reading book(s) I used in fourth grade, but all day long since I've heard the news, I keep remembering Panorama--which I know was in the series we used, but am not sure if it was what I read in that grade. But I remember sitting with my reading group all in a circle, Miss Ewens talking with us or reading with us or assigning us parts for the play in the book.

I'm pretty sure I first got into the Danny Dunn books in fourth grade. I know I won Miss Pickerel Goes to Mars in fourth grade. I can't remember how I won it--it might have been for the most creative Valentines box. I just know sometimes Miss Ewens would have books for prizes, and we'd get to pick which one we wanted for our prize.

There's a story that I've seen forwarded around about a teacher going to heaven, and how this teacher keeps being guided past nicer and nicer houses, each time hearing "This is where people in this profession go," and the professions getting more and more important and/or noble as the story goes on, and the story ends with the teacher going to the nicest place ever.

I don't think Heaven works like that, but if it does, Miss Ewens deserves that nicest place.

Good-bye, Miss Ewens. Thank you for being my teacher.

Miss Ewens, 1976
I will always think of you when I hear "Green, Green Grass of Home".


Miss Beesley said...

That made me a little misty, Mark Travis Riggs. I think we should all try to thank those teachers who made such a positive impact. Those thank you's make way more difference than any big paycheck. Money would be nice, too, though.

Anonymous said...

You left out that you officiated a wedding that year too :). I remember her guitar, listening to Beach Boys music at her house, and of course, The Green, Green Grass of Home. I remember her kindness and encouraging attitude. Thanks for honoring her.

Robin said...

That was really lovely. You have a wonderful memory. I wish I could recall so much from my elementary school years. I hope that wherever she is, she gets to read your blog:-)

Purple Cow said...

That is so moving. So touching. I think fourth grade is pivotal and we'll always remember our fourth grade teachers with fondness...I, too, share similar fourth grade experiences.

You moved me ya dunderhead!

BeDoubleYou said...

Was it also in fourth grade that you thought the world was ending because you saw the moon out in the daytime? And was it in fourth grade (or later) that you learned gravity is an actual force? These are my personal memories of your school days. When I was in fourth grade I had my first pregnant teacher and learned the meaning of the word "perturbed". Thanks for sharing your memories and for sharing them so sweetly.