Rachel’s Ramblings – 9.29.11
Posted: Friday, September 30, 2011 7:01 pm
By: Sara Rachels, Staff Writer
When I was in kindergarten, I rode to school on a porcupine.
Well, not really, but when Mrs. Mary Myrick asked us one day to draw our means of transportation to and from school, I scripted myself perched high atop some fearsome-looking quills attached to a four-legged rodent-like creature.
So began my journey into public education – traveling into learning with the strange yet ironic picture of a possibly painful trip.
Saturday afternoon, at the Palmersville Historical Society, when the crowd of former students spoke of attending small community schools, their eyes lit up as they recalled instances from the past – recollections of education in a different time and their own porcupine moments.
They admitted, with pride, that their schools were the center of their community, the center of their world and the glue that held them together.
I held onto their every word. Their experiences stirred a warmth and a familiarity in me I hadn’t thought of in a long time. In the crowd that day, I was a reporter scribbling notes and snapping pictures, but in my heart, I was transported back to a wooden desk, clutching a red and pink paperback reader, not daring to speak out of turn yet hoping I would be called on to read the next page and demonstrate I could use expression as Mrs. Simmons was teaching us.
When your mom is a teacher, the environment of the school building is your second home and the daily routine of working extra hard becomes ingrained in your being.
Your sense of absorbing the material, being enamored yet mystified with the teachers’ lounge and principal’s office and the surroundings, your teacher, your classmates, playtime and everything else within the walls of the school building is amplified.
At the historical society, the idea that the school served as the center of the world for the community still holds true when I went to school and today.
We just have a bit more space, people and technology.
Though we didn’t walk dirt roads to one-room buildings heated by woodstoves and lacking in indoor plumbing and though we don’t play annie over with hard objects, scare the bus wagon driver with snake skins or run from rabid dogs, we still snuck downtown to the Majestic Restaurant while searching for our rocket projects in eighth grade.
We still had old cafeteria ceiling tiles fall into our Mickey Mouse lunch boxes from the seemingly 1,000-foot tall structure in second grade.
Or maybe that was just me. But, we still had a giant red and blue wooden merry-go-round we sat around and chose people to get in the middle to push us.
Sabrina Bates and I went to the same school, just a few years apart, and one of my favorite things to do on any given day at work is yell out, “Do you remember that time in elementary school…?” and she’ll come up with an equally funny memory.
If someone was suspended for fighting, the entire town was aware.
If someone was headed to the National FFA convention, the news was all over the place. If someone fell on the playground slide and busted his or her head open, a prayer chain circulated the area.
When the people at the historical society spoke of their school, their stories also evoked a sadness in me because those schools no longer exist. They now live only in memories.
My husband and his sister have many school memories much like mine, but their school also no longer exists. Because they both mean so much to me, it hurts to think about, but that’s a well-worn and crowded soapbox I don’t intend to board.
Hearing the stories of the people at the historical society, I laughed until I cried.
When one former student related an embarrassing incident that happened when she came home from school one day, I actually envisioned her being so afraid of the older boys that she went her snow suit and it froze to her skin.
As I left the program and walked outside, I felt sentimental yet hopeful.
Every day, technology changes, the classroom evolves and students are learning more than ever and at earlier ages than ever.
Every time I go into a school, walk the halls, peek at the bulletin boards and gaze at the reading books, I realize I am still looking at the center of the community and the center of the world.
It is a world in which memories are made and never forgotten, people transform from acquaintances to best friends, an “A” earns you respect and self-confidence and a rough day toughens you up for the next bump in the road.
And you’ll survive that porcupine ride, bruises and all.
Staff Writer Sara Rachels can be contacted by email at email@example.com.