I'm sure I have a picture of her, somewhere. In fact there is a classic one of all of us, standing (in black and white) next to her as Mr. Gottfried snapped away. She was our first grade teacher, and her name was Mrs. Pearl Schiewe. We weren't really quite sure if we should say Mrs. Shee-vee, or Mrs. Shee-wee, but whatever it is we called her was just fine. I don't think she minded.
Hers was our very first classroom because there wasn't a kindergarten, and everybody started out at age 6. It felt strange and scary to walk up to her doorway and see the rows of desks, the paper and pencils neatly set out for us. I stood there, hesitant and outrageously shy.
But Mrs. Schiewe saw, and hugged me as I peeked round her door. She kindly said she knew my brother and sisters, and hoped I would do as well as they had... Uh-oh... their reputations had preceded me. It had not occurred to me that I might be judged by how well they had done. Oh dear! I was certain that they were wonderful and important, and equally certain that I was not. I suddenly and wisely adopted the attitude that it is:
"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt".
Many years later, I came to her classroom again at the end of her school day. As I peeked through that door I saw her glance up and gaze toward me. "Oh - is it...? It is! My, I am SO glad to see you again.." She was as sweet as ever, hugging, welcoming.
Yesterday morning as we wandered through the town cemetery, I came across the grave of my sweet teacher. I saw that she had been 57 years old when she taught me to read. We thought she was so old!! Hahaha! If I ever find that black and white of all of us standing next to her, let's look at it together and come to our own conclusions. She was probably pretty and somewhat dashing (well, at least probably pretty).
As I stood at her grave I remembered the small kindnesses that helped make our first school year an easier one. I glanced at her first name:
Pearl. Now that I think of it, that name is a splendid description.
Couldn't have said it better.
See you along the way!