"Snippet" -- a small piece or brief extract
As a teacher for many years, I know that parents make the difference in the quality of learning and also make a difference in their involvement that doesn't just affect the kid, but also affects the teacher and the school. While there are school memories scattered throughout these other stories, these are simply specific to school. I am thankful that I had a mom who made a positive difference for me, my friends, my teachers, and my schools.
I didn't attend kindergarten (it wasn't required; yes, I'm THAT old. . . and plus which Mama said there wasn't any point in sending me to kindergarten since I already knew everything I would have learned there. [As a teacher, I might argue that point today in favor of socialization and herd immunity, but I certainly didn't suffer academically from her decision.]) From my earliest school memories as a first grader in Ms. Meachem’s class, Mama made sure I was prepared. I had a sweet little red and blue school satchel, and I remember taking oatmeal creme pies for snack. Perhaps she sent other things, too, but it is the creme pies I remember. I was already reading and probably writing, too, when I arrived as a first grader at Whiteville Primary School thanks to Mama and her reading to me at home and making sure I had plenty of books available to me. Mama became a grade parent right away and helped out at school whenever there were parties or special activities. I remember specifically her being there for the Easter egg hunt we had, but I know she was there for other events as well.
Also, that first grade year brought my first trauma -- Leon Brown. Leon was a black boy on my bus -- #161 -- who decided it would be cute and fun to tease and attack me, culminating at some point in ripping my red plaid dress. That’s the only detail I remember about the actual attack -- I know I came off the bus with a ripped dress courtesy of Leon Brown. Mama was livid. She made some phone calls -- or maybe she went in person -- I’m not sure. Coleman Barbour was in charge of buses, and he pulled a few boys together (I’m assuming they all rode my bus, but I don’t remember) and we did an old-fashioned “Line-up” with me identifying Leon as the perpetrator. I don’t know what punishment Leon received. What I do remember is that Mama had my back and she wasn’t going to sit idly by while someone hurt her little girl.
Mama also fostered friendships. She allowed me to go over to Terri Nobles’ house to play (and maybe spend the night? I have a vague recollection. . .). She knew Terri’s family and felt safe. However if she didn’t know the family, she would not allow me over to their house but she was always gracious and hospitable to my friends and allowed them to come to my house. In first grade, it was Cheryl Graham. She was my friend from the bus and my first school sleepover buddy. She and I sat on the bus singing “On Top of the World” by the Carpenters daily. When she came to visit, she did fine with Mama, but hid under the bed when Daddy came home. Mama always welcomed my friends and made them feel at home.
Mama continued to serve as grade parent until grade parents were not “a thing” anymore -- I know she was very active through 3rd grade. In the upcoming sewing segment of my tribute to Mama, you'll discover some other ways she positively poured into my schooling. Of course, even after grade parents were so "last year", she was still active in my school career. In middle school, I was involved in Gifted and Talented, and Mama was in PAGE (Parents of Academically Gifted . . . ). She was very active in that organization and was always quick to make sure I was allowed to participate in things that would help me grow and use my abilities.
In eighth grade, through PAGE and GT, we were allowed to take a psychology class in the evenings. It was a parent-child class, and it was Mama who went with me. I don’t remember how many sessions, but it was wonderful. Dr. Jerry Paschal taught the class and that was special, because he had been Mama’s teacher/principal during her schooling. He was serving as Superintendent of Whiteville City Schools. I don’t remember all the topics we covered. I do remember taking an IQ test -- and Mama and I having the same IQ -- 132! Those were special times at a difficult time for me -- middle school girls are an animal unto themselves. Our relationship wasn’t stellar during those years, but this is a pleasant memory amidst a lot of pubescent unrest in my world. I treasure those times we sat as equals and learners together.
Music made its first big appearance in my life in middle school. I joined band in sixth grade, which radically changed my life. As I began to play trumpet, new worlds opened up for me and Mama made sure I had what I needed and got where I needed to go to be able to participate, even though sometimes it was costly. She and Daddy allowed me to audition for All-County band starting in 7th grade, and it became an annual event through my high school years. Not only did she provide transportation and motivation, she also was the one at home who had to endure those first couple of years of practicing “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, “This Old Man” “The Old Grey Goose” and so much more as I honed my craft -- loudly. I know she was at least thankful that my bedroom was upstairs and that we had a big yard. I joined the chorus during my eighth grade year, and I remember my family sitting in the bleachers to hear us sing “Sentimental Journey” “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and other standards from the 40’s
Mama’s care and nurturing extended into high school, as I continued to pursue my course in music and drama. Twice, Mama took me to auditions for Governor’s School -- once for trumpet and once for drama. That meant traveling to Winston-Salem for auditions -- way out of her comfort zone, but she did it, for me.
Also, in high school, Mama was a devoted member of the WHS Band Boosters. She helped out in traditional and non-traditional ways; attending meetings, participating in fundraisers, and even creating a fund-raiser (much to my mortification as a teenager) where she paid Band Boosters for their “trash” -- labels and UPCs, etc. -- that Mama used vigilantly in her couponing and rebating/refunding endeavors to stretch our family dollars. While it might have been a hard pill to swallow, it came from her desire to help the band -- and help our family, which in her mind was a win-win situation!
Mama and Daddy also made the decision in my senior year to allow me to go to New York City for a drama club trip over Spring Break, which was QUITE a trek for this Southern country girl! I had only been to NC, VA, and SC at that point, and it was amazing and life-changing in my perspectives. We saw shows on Broadway and off Broadway. We went to NBC studios and saw Liberace at Radio City Music Hall. We ate Chinese food in Chinatown, shopped 5th Avenue, including FAO Schwartz. We rode the subway, walked for miles, and ate at Mama Leone's, where the waiters and waitresses were fascinated with our Southern accent (which we MIGHT have accentuated just a bit for effect ;-) I'm quite sure we didn't have the money for that trip, but they knew it was something they couldn't and wouldn't give me and they sacrificed in order for me to go. I didn't fully appreciate that then, but I am so thankful for that opportunity.
Throughout my school career, Mama pushed, supported, and nurtured my academic successes and my extracurricular endeavors. Without her support my life would have been much different in this area that has come to impact my life in more positive ways than I can begin to count. The friends and the teachers with whom I built relationships during these years and the musical/dramatic experiences that I participated in have shaped who I have become as an adult in myriad ways, and that wouldn’t have been possible without Mama’s support throughout my schooling.
**Sadly, I don't have any pictures of Mama serving as grade parent, helping at parties, chaperoning field trips, or selling concessions for Band Boosters. Moms, make sure you get pictures of you doing these things. Your children will want them one day. I know I do.
I've been a teacher of K-3 students for over 20 years; I'm also a writer of poems, short stories, devotionals and picture books. I'm wife to an amazing husband and mom to Sparkles, Mocha, and Rusty -- our feline fur babies . I love reading, writing, singing and listening to music. I enjoy nature, Bible study and spending time with friends and family!
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