“Don’t be shy. Straighten up your tie.
Get down from your tree house sittin’ in the sky.”
–B*Witched, “C’est La Vie”
Miles Last Week: 45.5
Total Miles: 120.5
From second to eighth grade, I attended a small, rural school in Oklahoma. During my last four years there, my homeroom teacher was an insanely caring, wonderful teacher by the name of Maggie Wallace. Every single student in our class–in any class that she has ever taught–was important to her. Seriously. I’ve heard from her a handful of times since graduating the eighth grade, and I even attended her retirement party a little over a year and a half ago.
In about fifth or sixth grade (possibly seventh, but probably sixth), she gave us an assignment that she had read about…somewhere. It might have been in Chicken Soup for the Soul, but I’m not sure. That part’s a little fuzzy.
Anyway, we were to make a list of everyone in our class and write the best thing about each, including ourselves. When we turned them in, she sorted through the compliments, created lists for each student, and read every list to the class while we tried to guess which compilation described which kid.
Can I just say how weirdly stressful this was to a sixth (possibly fifth or seventh) grader? I mean, I wasn’t worried about saying something nice about my classmates–we all got along remarkably well–but there were boys in my class. Boys that I may or may not have liked. There were some things I didn’t want them to know. Part of the assignment suddenly became about saying something nice, but not too nice, if you know what I mean.
I think I survived without admitting anything too embarrassing. I’m pretty repressed, though, so I may just not remember…
So, why bring up this exercise in sharing positive vibes?
Because I received an envelope from Maggie a couple of weeks ago. (I’m twenty-eight now, so I think that means I can call her Maggie.)
A photo copy of my list was inside. Here’s what my classmates thought about me in the sixth (or fifth or seventh) grade. Fair warning, it appears that I was having a pretty good ego day that when I came up with the best thing about myself.
The general consensus seems to be that I was nice and a good student. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another piece of paper that was inside the envelope and completely refutes the whole “good speller” thing–what I assume/hope to be a much earlier assignment that she happened upon. I would really like to think that I was able to properly spell America and because by the fifth to seventh grade, but I could be wrong.
Apparently I was very concerned about arson during Red Ribbon Week. Go figure.
True Fact: I considered fixing editing that before showing it here, but I thought it would be too obvious. Also, the sentence structure is actually causing some pain in my chest.
Unexpectedly encountering a piece of your childhood affects your brain in a This Is Your Life sort of way. Without meaning to, you start to think about how you’ve changed or if your former classmates would change their opinions if they could see you now. You know that you aren’t the same person anymore, but you can’t quite pinpoint how or why it happened.
Of course, sometimes it just makes you sit and wonder what someone means when he calls you crafty. Was he calling me devious, Martha Stewart, or a witch? We may never know.
After high school, college, and some work experience, I hope that I’m at least a somewhat better speller. I also find myself newly inspired to keep my teacher’s words true:
“You have such a special way of focusing your mind upon something until it is clear to you or until the task is complete.”
The 2014 Mile Project–as well as every other personal and professional goal I have for myself–depends upon it just a tiny bit.
I got my list from Maggie, too. What an incredible lady! And, just FYI, though we’ve been separated my many years and miles, I still stand by what I wrote all those years ago. Those days at that tiny little country school were special and we’re full of special people. Thanks for sharing your reflections with the world. I was blessed by it today.
Hey, Riley! We did have a very special class! Those were definitely some good ol’ days. I hope you’re doing well!
I love Mrs. Wallace. No matter how old I am, I just don’t think I can call her Maggie.