When I hit the Declutter Road last week, I never expected laughter, gasps, and heart tugs.
It’s my first-ever school progress report, dated October, 1963.
I quickly realized the sheet offered more than a single snapshot of a student’s education.
Cultural and societal commentary screamed here, too.
All courtesy of Mrs. Esther Ruth Gibson, my first grade teacher at Sam Houston Elementary School in Pampa, Texas.
She was “Esther Ruth.” Never simply “Esther.” It’s a double-name Texas thing.
However, to me, she was always Mrs. Gibson. That’s small town Texas.
When Webster’s Dictionary defined ‘teacher,’ this woman modeled.
Here, her opening paragraphs offered boiler plate language on a mimeographed page (remember those purple-staining-machines?): “…listening and following directions …following the school routine…learning letters…how to write…begin at the left…move to the right.”
She mentioned a “Readiness Program.” My mind flashed forward to Common Core, No Pass/No Play, and similar education reform efforts. The more things change, the more they remain the same?
Below the standard progress report, Mrs. Gibson added two paragraphs of professional educator observation. Offered in teacher-perfect penmanship.
She nailed me at age six.
That comment about things staying the same? Mrs. Gibson identified elements of me that remain true 56 years later.
However, what most caught my attention was her sentence: “Her writing is particularly good.”
My writer self would like to believe that sentence was both prescient and true. Then. And now.
I’d also like to believe she would be proud of this blog.
I learned she died a dozen years ago.
The year I turned 50.
The same age Mrs. Gibson was the year she taught me.