Teaching the Teacher


I loved my first grade teacher. Her first name was Dorothy, the same as my grandmother's. She was interesting and seemed to devote a lot of time to me... and I loved her... until she sent home the note.

I suppose it was because of all of the Baby Boomers, but at Cloverdale Elementary in Dothan, Alabama (not to be confused with Cloverdale in Montgomery) this was actually a split class. We had first and second grade in the same room. Mrs. Wages would get the first grade started on their studies, then go over and start the second grade. She was sort of like the man on the Ed Sullivan Show who would spin plates on the top of the poles; she would dart back and forth, keeping us all going and I loved her... until she sent home the note.

I did pretty well in the class; my mom and dad had read so much to me growing up that I was reading on a fourth grade level the day I arrived, so I could whiz through my assignments. And Mrs. Wages was complimentary and I loved it until... until she sent home the note.

"Dear Mrs. Hitchcock, I have to tell you what a pleasure it is having Bil in my class. He is bright, finishes his assignments on time, and gets along well with the other children. I am, however, having a problem. He is able to do his work very quickly, and then while I am working with the second graders, he proceeds to tell me how to teach them and ways that I could improve. Could you please talk with him about that? Sincerely, Mrs. Dorothy Wages."

This note obviously did not impress Princess Pat, as we called my mom. All of my pleas that she SHOULD be doing this and SHOULD be doing that fell on deaf ears. It was annoying Mrs. Wages that a first-grader would tell her how to teach the second grade.

After that I would sulk, keep quiet and read my Weekly Reader. The fact that I had been Little Mr. Peanut at the Peanut Festival that year appeared to have been lost on her.

I could have helped her so much.