Tuesday, August 24, 2010

RIP Mrs. Chambers 1917 - 2010

71ยบ ~ dawn, clear skies, no breeze to speak of

Yesterday, my mom emailed to let me know that Mrs. Chambers, my fourth and fifth grade English/Math teacher had passed away.  This morning I found her obituary online.  Her first name was Melvina, something I'd never known; she had two children, something else I didn't know, reminders that teachers have personal identities beyond the classroom. 

What I did know about Mrs. Chambers are these things:

She had been widowed for almost 30 years by the time I met her, losing her husband in an Air Force training accident.
She was missing the tip of her middle finger on one hand and would tell us she lost it in a paper-cutter accident.
She taught me the phrase "close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades."
She had a beautiful laugh.
She eased us through the transition from grade school to middle school.
She made me love math as much as I loved English, at least for a time.
She made boys on the verge of adolescence cry...but in the best way...with literature.  She read books to us, and if anyone would argue that this is a waste of time in the classroom, that it doesn't move the students closer to passing those all-important tests, I'm here to tell you that hearing those stories come to life in her voice made me want to be a writer.  That and watching those boys put their heads down on their arms and weep for the boy and his dogs in Where the Red Fern Grows. The power she held in her voice, the power she shared with us through that book, was nothing short of magic.



Rest in Peace, Mrs. Chambers, you touched so many lives.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your tribute to your teacher is a wonderful gesture. As a teacher with 39 years of experience, I can assure you students like you make the job a wonderfully reciprocal gift. kjm

Erin said...

Thank you for this lovely remembrance. Teaching at the elementary and secondary school level can sometimes feel overwhelming. Lately the media (and alas, some college professors that I meet) has expressed that teaching is not the noble profession it once was. Thank you for reminding me that it can be.

Sandy Longhorn said...

kjm, thanks for stopping by. I'm in my tenth year of teaching at the college level, and teachers like Mrs. Chambers are my models, even today.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Erin, I know what you mean. I'm married to a high school teacher, and I teach at community college, which is often the red-headed stepchild in the room. I only hope that I'll get through to some of my students the way teachers like Mrs. Chambers got through to me.