You already know that I brake for thrift stores. There’s nothing better than roaming down the aisles looking at odd items and seeing how I can ‘re-purpose’ them or finding gems that adorned my grandparents’ homes back in the day. There is something about seeing potential in another person’s cast-offs that gets my creative neurons all aglow. But this story is one for the books. Truly.
So, here I am searching for a certain Golden Book of my childhood, when I see a reading textbook that I LOVED teaching from. Every now and then a seasoned educator will latch onto a publisher that amazingly hits the standards and objectives with a great array of solid material. Such was the case of this reading text I had used with fifth graders at Southport Elementary. As I spied that beloved series, I smiled and automatically the titles, characters, themes, genres began parading through my head. So many stories, such little time. I grabbed the book off the shelf, wondering how this old text had found its way here. Then the magic began.
I opened the book to see “Mrs. Hall” scrawled in pencil on the facing page. What?? I’m a ‘Mrs. Hall’ and I was about to remark, “Hey, you had me at ‘hello’ but it gets better! I look on the inside cover and there were the names of 10-12 of my former students! My classroom number of 45 was written in the appropriate box, and there were ‘my kids’ and the year that they belonged to me. I was under their spell once again. I stood in that thrift store as if I were adrift in the ocean…taking attendance and seeing each of my kiddos raising their hands, smiling their quirky smiles, and making me earn my pay.
I held that book as if it were a holy thing, and took account of each child who had obediently written their name in the book. After purchasing the book and babbling on about how I had taught from this very book and these were my very students—boring everyone who had to listen to me carry on–I went home and sat on my porch and went through the names of ten year olds who had suddenly morphed into adults. Believe it or not, one girl’s name who used that book for an entire school year is a Facebook friend of mine; she is married, has a daughter, and lives in Florida. One young man is now a highly acclaimed high school educator himself—and I just saw him in May– when we both were honored by graduating seniors! One gal had played the part of ‘Clara’ in the Nutcracker Ballet at Clowes Hall, on the campus of Butler University. Yeah…she had played that part when she was MY fifth grader—that’s how good of a dancer she was then. Perhaps Google will lead me to her.
I know that the Disney tune, “It’s a Small, Small World” fits this blog perfectly. How that book from 1990-2002 made it to me is unknown. But it truly warmed this teacher’s heart to ‘re-unite’ with likes of:
Tommy M., Courtney W., Delaina W., Daniel J., Jermaine J., Zac E., Kristen M., Chris P., Liz J, Tiffany S., Andy E., and Sara C.
I said a prayer for each of you, and my heart smiled as the classroom memories spilled out of that book. May each of you enjoy chasing your dreams and living out the ongoingstories of your souls.
Oh…the title of this textbook? DreamChasers. An ordinary book on the shelf that made this teacher’s day extraordinary.