September Chalkboard Schoolhouse - A Tribute to Teachers
This one was an inspiration. I kept thinking about September, and the kids heading back to school (scary). And the only way I could approach all the unknowns of 2021 was to think back to being a kid myself and feeling September roll along. In those days, unlike later as a high-schooler, it was exciting to to going back. Summer seemed to last forever in those days, stretching from one of the first June days right to September. I looked forward to putting my uniform back on and seeing the friends who lived other towns and I didn't get to see over the summer.
I'm second from the right in the bottom row. I still know almost all of these kids, and two have passed away.
I guess because it was a Catholic school and it ran from Kindergarten to 8th grade, we were close. There were this many kids in the class, pretty much the same ones, for all those years. On picture day, most people remembered to wear their normal clothes. It was the only day of the year that you could, and Field Day, I guess, but I often forgot and wore my uniform. There was something so safe about the uniform; it couldn't be wrong or uncool. I think maybe the bows in my hair were pretty wrong. But now I buy that yarn ribbon when I see it for sale, because Jocelyn loves it when I slide it between her toes at bedtime.
One of the other things about Catholic schools was that there were mostly nuns teaching us. Some were small and sweet, and some were vicious. There young who appeared when I was about to leave for high school and she taught sex education, which even then I thought might be a little ironic. She had short hair and was sporty and kind and she looked almost exactly like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. But then there was Sister Marie Louise in the library who was sharp and sarcastic and had a terrible digestive problem.
It wasn't until a couple of years later. When my dad thought he was Hemingway, and we all had to move to Fort Myers, Florida, so he could paddle around with alligators in swamps. It wasn't nice or easy to go to a new school as a high school sophomore, and I just couldn't make friends. I took a job at a restaurant and nobody there liked me either. I made friends with a beautiful girl who, then, actually did have tape on her glasses, and everyone at work made fun of her, and me. Her sister got a job at the Clinique counter and things started to look up. We both got some free make up and started to think we were vamps. Nothing changed at school. She was in my French class, but for the rest of the day I was on my own. There was a jock who always copied off my work in class and gave my the thumbs up when we filed out, but never spoke to me in the hall, or the mall, or anywhere.
The only thing that made it bearable was Mrs. Ball, the English teacher. She was shaped like a little ball, Southern, sweet, with a draaaawwwwl. She was happy and kind, but she could be as sharp and short with kids as Sister Mary Louise, when they were rotten kids. That was the difference between Sister and Mrs. Ball - Sister was edgy and prickly all the time, but Mrs. Ball only was when the person really was rotten. She almost always gave creative assignments in class, which a lot of people dreaded, but I thought it was a great chance to escape. She would always find a way to incorporate something cool, like letting us write about a favorite song or band. Everything I wrote she put an A+ on, and she'd write things all along the margins to show she was really invested and really reading. Then she'd write a long note at the end where she'd say the thing was so good that she wished there was something higher than an A+ because it was better than anything she could ever write. There were a lot of good teachers growing up, but she was the only great one.
For this month, I wanted to hook a tribute to the great ones. Using a chalkboard as a base, I tried to conjure up an old-fashioned schoolhouse, Little House on the Prairie style, with a sampler look. I wanted to use colors that reminded me of little sticks of chalk and I put in a couple crayons, an apple - of course a hook. Hooking this made me think of a hundred school stories, and people. It brought me right back. This is something you can and should customize to capture your story, and your special teacher. I hope it brings you back.