Stephanie Pearce: Thankful for Thanksgiving memories
Thanksgiving brings several memories of family back to me. However, there are a couple memories of school that pop in my head every Thanksgiving. It’s is one of my favorite holidays, and I have my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Stoddard, to thank for that.
Mrs. Stoddard taught at East Elementary for years. She is beautiful, and I remember her wearing lovely dresses almost every day. She wore this lipstick that made me think that being a teacher had a bit of glamour to it. She is a true lady and she taught us so much in class from etiquette to reading, writing and arithmetic. I loved her class, and she will always stand out as one of my favorite teachers. She definitely knew her calling and took it seriously. She seemed to look at teaching as a gift and never a chore; I don’t ever remember her having an off day. She always kept us engaged in some way, whether it was “Frog and Toad” books or her magical dollhouse she let us play with if we were well behaved.
At Thanksgiving, she taught us about pilgrims by playing the part. We would dress up like pilgrims. She would go all out with her themes and decorate the entire classroom for the few days before Thanksgiving break. We were educated on how pilgrims lived in the time. We would learn like pilgrims by writing on little slate boards with chalk. We made candles by dipping a wick in hot wax over and over. This woman was so brave. Could you imagine a room of first-graders with hot wax? She was such an awesome teacher and never broke a sweat.
I remember making paper aprons and bonnets for girls and vests and hats for boys. Parents would come and help. She was quite the organizer. She had parents knowing their job and helping us like this had been their job for years.
She read books to us, and one I remember was the “Cranberry Thanksgiving.” It is about a grandmother who would invite someone to Thanksgiving every year and encourage her granddaughter Maggie to do the same. She would say, “Ask someone poor or lonely.” They would make Grandmother’s secret cranberry bread recipe. Maggie invited someone known to be a little unsavory, Mr. Whiskers, and Grandmother was afraid her secret recipe wouldn’t be safe with Mr. Whiskers in the house. The book contained the recipe for this bread. When she read the book to us, I had to check it out of the school library and make this special bread for Thanksgiving.
Anytime I think of a great teacher, Mrs. Stoddard comes to mind. She is definitely in my top five of favorites. She reminded me of a cross between Laura Ingalls and Lucille Ball. She knew how to engage us, and she looked like a million dollars doing it. Thank you, Mrs. Stoddard, for crossing my mind every Thanksgiving because you made my learning experience come alive.