October 9, 2018
Dear Ms. Foster,
You’ve been aware of my project since your husband got a letter months ago. Having served as a primary shepherd of mine through 3rd and 4th grade, I hope you’ve been expecting one. Those were good years, especially relative to those that flanked them.
In 2nd grade I quickly transformed from cherub to brat when the honor of being dubbed the first “student of the month” went straight to my head. I spent the rest of that year getting the pride beaten out of me. As you know, Mama was my teacher in 5th and 6th grade. She was determined to show no indication of favoritism. I was a cheeky lad. Those were hard-knock days. I spent a lot of time in my room.
My allowance at home was a meager fifty cents a week, but in your class I was flush with cash. Ballin’ as they say. The weekly games of Jeopardy that we played on the chalk board, with categories by subject and questions based on recent studies were an ingeniously fun way to reinforce what we learned. That Xeroxed monopoly money was worth far more than the paper it was printed on and, often, the pencils we could spend it on. Subliminal lessons in sociology and economics were abundant.
I wasn’t a very good student when it came to the post-lunch music period in elementary school. However, I do have fond memories of those daily sessions where our entire tiny school practiced together for small-scale musical productions while you played the piano. We really had something special in that. I danced through an auditorium in a white sweat suit with a modified Styrofoam bait bucket on my head as Frosty the Snowman, conducted a high-wire act on a hardwood stage, and went down on the wrong knee before a cabbage patch doll as a nativity scene shepherd. Good thing I wasn’t cast as a “wise-man.”
I still know the words to Rockin’ Robin, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Chickory Chick, and many other songs that make me smile on the rare occasion that they surface today. From officiating jeopardy, to making sweet music, to cussing at Jody Crocker – thank you for the memories. But most of all, thank you for your investment in me and all the other kids who were truly blessed by both your care (and wrath J) as Marietta Angels.