Being first a student for seventeen years now a teacher for ten, I’ve been in and around school for fairly long time. Call me crazy, but I wanted to dedicate a post to my first memories, and feelings, of formalized schooling. Two distinct memories come to mind.
The first was my first full year of kindergarten and Clark Elementary School. It was a neighborhood school not far from where I lived at the time. The kindergarten students were scheduled to attend only half of the standard school day. My cohort came in around noon and stayed until 2:30 pm. My mom worked long hours and couldn’t afford to take the day off work to take me into school, so my caregiver dropped me on the first day. And I was off.
I don’t remember a lot from kindergarten. I don’t remember my teacher’s name, but it may have been Ms. Wiley. Not sure. My first solid memories involve me playing house in the back of the room, memorizing my ABCs by connecting small cubes together, and saying “president” instead of “present” when the teacher called my name for attendance. On the first day, I recall sitting at the edge of a table crowded with 5th and 6th graders during lunch, not knowing where I belonged. I don’t know how I ended up there because soon after an adult redirected me back to my classroom where all my classmates were.
The second memory comes from first grade at Lafayette Contemporary Academy. Unlike my kindergarten school, LCA was not a neighborhood school. In fact, I took the school bus an hour each way. The school was on the east side of Cleveland and I lived on the west side. I now know that it was a Magnet School. I’ve also learned that it has been demolished.
I attended LCA up until fifth grade. I loved it. There are so many awesome memories that come to mind during those early years of my life. But this is a post about firsts, and I’ll never forget my very first day. I don’t remember the morning bus ride being all that eventful, but it was different story when I arrived at school on that first day. What happened?
I cried. A lot.
I distinctively remember my first grade teacher, Ms. Malloy, wearing a white dress with large pink flowers consoling me the morning of the first day. She was so nice. (She ended up being my fourth grade teacher too.) I attribute my waterworks to being so far away from home around strangers in a place, and neighborhood, that I knew absolutely nothing about. Like many kids that age, I was pushed out of my comfort zone and scared.
There you have it, my first memories of school. What did this post accomplish, I’m not sure yet. But it was fun to go back to where it all began for a little while.
And now that I think about it, my confusion in kindergarten and vulnerability in first grade do seem to be good analogies for my entire life. All is not lost. Cheers.