Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Hot for Teacher
My niece is a second grader at the elementary school I attended. It's a new school for her, the local GATE magnet in Fresno. It was an intimidating change for the 7 year-old. However, upon her first trip to the computer lab, the teacher asked her "Are you Jordan Capell's daughter?" Her eyes lit up as she explained that Jordan was her Uncle, and he lives in Burbank, and he is a writer, and he has two kids, and he is tall, and he sometimes has a beard. I actually live in Glendale, but close enough. The computer lab teacher was my 6th grade teacher, 28 years ago. So, my niece then threw my name around as if it were some sort of "calling card" at her new school. See, you don't have to live in Los Angeles to be a namedropper. She is an amazing girl and doing extremely well at her new school. Here is why I am telling you this story. My sixth grade teacher, who has had roughly 900 students since I was in his class, remembered me. I happen to be in Fresno on a day my kids were off school and I decided to pay him a visit when I picked my niece up for the day. I know I have changed a lot in almost thirty years, but he hadn't. We visited for 30 minutes or so and talked about life. He was extremely interested in my writing career and my son. He, finally, answered a question about a short story that we had read in his class about an amusement park that was really a population control center that I had forgotten the title of and most of my friends have accused me of making up whenever I mention it. He even gave me a copy of the anthology where we had read it. We hugged and said good-bye. A week or two earlier, there was a new "like" on the Find My Eyes Facebook page. The name was a familiar one. It was my second grade teacher. I instantly sent her a message to verify, and it was. She, too, told me stories of little Jordan in her 2nd grade class (Thinking back I believe it was actually a 2-3 combo class, but that's irrelevant). She posted a picture of herself and her husband on New Year's Eve and I remembered meeting that guy in our class. They were engaged to be married, and a smiling picture of them over 30 years later verified that the wedding did indeed take place. She's often commenting on my page. She asks about my writing and raising my son. She signs most of her comments with "ILYVM", which I assume means "I love you very much". And she signs her comments to all of her friends with that. I was a good student, not the best, but on the good side. I remember the names of every teacher I had from Kinder to 6th grade. I remember something special about all of them. I went to public schools all the way through graduate school. I wonder if my son is having the same experience. He struggles in school a way that I didn't. He loves his Kindergarten teacher (who continues to be his biggest champion). He speaks highly of his first grade teacher, although, he only recently has been spending the entire day in the classroom. 30 years from now, will they remember him? Amazingly enough, yes. I can not tell you how important getting in touch with my grade school teachers was. Sometimes I struggle with believing in myself, we all do. To come into contact with someone that remembers you from 30 years ago... from a sea of 900-1000 faces... but still remembers you!? Immaculate. From Kinder to 6th, they had names like: Del Carmen, Simpson, Wisener (now Baird), Macy, Dixon, Klassen, and Jost. I know at least two of them have passed, but they still remain important to my upbringing. I can not thank life enough that I was blessed to have them all. Thank your children's teachers. In 30 years, they might still be your child's biggest champions. Two of mine still believe in that 7 year-old little red-head boy in their class. And that, my friends, is pretty fucking cool. So, to the two teachers I mentioned (who read this blog)... Thank you. ILYVM.