This morning was pretty much her same schedule . I gave her the ‘greeting ‘ of the day as I past by her to put the rest of my equipment away. She told me that she was enjoying the remaining part of her summer and that it wouldn’t be soon that she would have to return to school to prepare for her students . It was then that she continued to tell me that she was a 9th grade high schoolteacher .
I couldn’t help shared with her my aspirations of wanting to become a teacher as well . I explained how I found the high school level fascinating . If you know me , I am always good for a short story that I could tell . I told her of the story of my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Howe . I reminisced how one day she made me stay after school because it was during the time that we were learning how to write in cursive . Her correction to me was that I would write a word , for example , the word ‘little ‘ and I would stop in mid strides of my cursive and go back and ‘dot ‘ the I’s and cross all of the ‘T’s’ .
She would have me stay after schooling each day until I got it right . I remember playing , as some would put it , some ‘race cards ‘ against her , accusing her of not liking Black people. My hope was this would loosen her grip on me . Even though I complained relentlessly, it wouldn’t be until two months later , when I finally showed some improvement , that she finally let me go . “Mrs. Howe had a huge impact on my life as a man” , I said to the woman who turned out to be a teaching veteran of 20 years . “That’s makes me so happy to hear that” , she said , as I could see her face light up knowing that such an ‘awesome ‘ thing could said about a person of her proud profession .
It was evident that in some ways she was a ‘Mrs. Howe’ too . She went on to tell me how she pushed her students in the same manner. I commended her to never quit , especially on her minority students . I assured her that even though some of them might appear to hate her , that in essence , she was making a huge impact on their lives that would change them forever! I could tell that my voice was a bit choked off as I spoke about Mrs. Howe . I told her of the last time that I saw her. I was an adult and married for about two years when I saw her again.
I was visiting my parents for the weekend when she strolled past our house one afternoon. My wife and some members of my family were sitting outside on the porch that faced the street. I heard that she had retired some years ago . ” Mrs. Howe ! ” . I shouted as I jumped off the porch and ran out to meet her on the street. She stopped abruptly as I crossed her path on the sidewalk . She looked confusingly at me for the moment and studied my face. I was prepared to accept that didn’t remember me after all these years.
Truthfully there were so many kids in her class, why would she remember me? It was then that her face became vibrant as she said to me ” are you still writing cursive the correct way?“. Right there in the street I became a 9 years old again! “Yes , ma’am , I am still writing cursive the right way!” I answered quickly. She hugged my neck and gave me a stern warning to continue to do my best in life as she waved at my family on the porch and continued on her way down the street .
This would be the last time that I would see her. As I slowly watched her disappear from my view I had to thank God for this woman. She didn’t have to care about me , but she did. She took it upon herself to not accept anything but the best from me. She saw my potential before I ever did. I would miss her greatly. She would end up on the long list of people who have deeply touched my life. Today I can’t help but grin to myself whenever I have to write something in cursive. The memory of Mrs. Howe is always with me. Well, really standing right behind me.
By: Sgt. Roy Lewis
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