Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mrs. Farley

When I was a little kid, I was extremely shy. I would hide my face in the fabric of my grandmother’s coat, rather than talk to the folks she was trying to introduce me to. I was so afraid to speak up in first grade, that I was assigned to a lower reading group. At some point I realized that I didn’t belong with the “Bluebirds” and found the courage to begin reading aloud the way I actually could. Soon I was transferred up to the “Robins”. But I was still a timid little girl.

Until I entered third grade. That’s when I was assigned to Mrs. Farley’s class. She was an older woman, tall, with graying, strawberry blonde hair. She had a deep, gravelly voice and a stern, gruff manner. It sounds like a match made in hell, but she was a Godsend to me. She must have seen something in the quiet little girl behind the cat’s eye glasses. She took me aside one day and explained that she was giving me greater latitude, independence and responsibility than the other kids. Mind you, I was about eight at the time. For instance if I needed to get a drink of water or use the lavatory, I could just quietly step out of the room. She said she knew I wouldn’t abuse the privilege. I never did. It seems an odd thing, but in those 180 school days, Mrs. Farley transformed me. I blossomed into a sort of extroverted introvert. In time, I wasn’t afraid to speak up in classes, stand up to people in authority, look out for the underdog, get on stage, serve as a lector and teach. I still felt those shadows of shyness, but they stayed in abeyance as my sense of confidence and competence grew.

The story doesn’t end there. The story only began there. But for tonight, I’ll leave it with a thank you to my third grade teacher. Thank you Mrs. Farley, for drawing me out of my shell. Thank you for helping me claim and grow into the life I was meant to have.


poetmama said...

This is such a beautiful story because it shows how the smallest gesture can have such a huge impact on a child. As a child I encountered several adults who helped to build me up in little ways, ways that were sorely lacking at home! Grown-ups can have profound influences on kids.

Purple Ronnie said...

it is soo true! I always say a teacher has the most important job with the most power that is so easy to abuse. A teacher will make or break you - a lovely story thanks and i can't wait to hear the end of it!

Pink Granite said...

Thanks PoetMama -
I'm so glad we both had adults who made such a positive difference in our lives!

Thanks Purple Ronnie -
You're right about that abuse of power. I fear it takes far more positive interactions to offset the negative ones.

The good teachers are treasures!

- Lee

Roo said...

I could have sworn I posted something on this ... hmmm oh well ...

Anyway, I had a wonderful teacher called Miss Gedes, and she was our Library teacher ( yes our school was fortunate to have one of it's own)all brogues and tweeds. She taught me about books, how to read, how to turn a page properly and above all, how they can inform, change and focus your thoughts.

She was brilliant, and I still remember her for instilling in me a healthy respect for books.

Pink Granite said...

Roo -
Here's to Miss Gedes as well! I hope there are many more of her and Mrs. Farley's ilk choosing to teach these days!
- Lee

Anonymous said...

Hey Buttons,

And as nearly as I can remember you haven't shutup since!
Love, Laughs, from you know who!