There is always that one teacher who stands out in your life. Mine was Mrs. Worthsmith.
|Most articles I have seen about favorite teachers are written about one they had in high school. Although I did have a favorite teacher from those years as a teenager, the teacher who set my stage of learning for the rest of my life was my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Worthsmith.
The first time I saw Mrs. Worthsmith was when I was in 4th grade on the playground. She was standing in the shadow of the school building with several students around her. She had chestnut brown hair with a wide streak of white that started in the middle in front to just past her left eye sweeping back into her hair toward the crown. To a fourth grader she was not a little person. In actuality, she probably stood at about 5’ 7” and weighed about 150lb. That particular day she was wear what it called a tent dress. (This style only lasted one season.) What I found so astounding was the colors and pattern of the material of her dress. Her dress literally looked like the tarp used for a circus tent. The main color was a rich yellow. The strips were the other primary and secondary colors. What teacher would wear something that stood out from everyone else? Mrs. Worthsmith, that is who. During the next couple of months before school let out for the summer, I found out from friends who had older brothers and sisters that either you were a student who loved her or you were a student who hated her. There did not seem to be any middle ground.
My elementary school was big enough so that two teachers were assigned to grades one through four each and three teachers were assigned to grade five and six each. All summer long I was oblivious to who my teacher would be. I was too busy playing. In August, just 3 weeks away from when school would start, my parents got a letter from the school saying who my teacher would be. When the letter was handed to me that evening, all I could think was that my 5th grade year would not be boring anyway.
On my first day of school as a 5th grader, I charged up the steps of the south entrance, walked through the hall of the first and second graders, and pushes the metal doors of the stairwell to the second floor. When I opened the metal door of the second floor, I could see the doorway of the 5th grade classroom of the French teacher (never did not her name). Just to the right of that door was the doorway to Mrs. Worthsmith’s classroom. I walk in seeing that only three other students were there and Mrs. Worthsmith was not. I chose the seat with the attached table in the middle row one chair back from the front.
Slowly the room filled with the other students. In the mist of them was Mrs. Worthsmith dress in brown tweed looking like school marm. She asked me what my last name was. I told her, “Roth.” She said, “ You were almost right. Move one chair to the left.” That is where I sat until June of the following year.
The next two days were spend being assigned text books, going over school regulations, and learning Mrs. Worthsmith’s class rules. On the third day she told us to get out our social study books and turn to the sixth chapter. She, then, announced as she handed out long narrow strips of construction paper that this would be the only chapter we would have to learn until March of the following year. I stared at her in disbelief for about a minute, saw that she was not fooling around, and then reverted my eyes to my book again. The chapter title said Kenya.
As it turned out, not only was our social studies lessons just about Kenya, but also our math lessons, English lessons, Spanish lessons, art class, and all spelling words. The only breaks from all this stuff about Kenya were when I went to the music room, to my gym class, and my science class. Those who were taking French got an extra 45-minute break from Kenya.
Why was she fixed on Kenya? That summer before school had started, Mrs. Worthsmith had actually been to Kenya. She had even made a trip up to the top of Mount Kenya. When my brother had her for his 5th grade, he learned about Portugal in the same way because that‘s where she had gone the previous summer..
In February , Mrs. Worthsmith conducted an assembly for all of the students of the school. During the presentation of slides showing Kenya, her students who were in her Spanish class told the audience about Kenya in Spanish. Her students that were taking French interpreted the same speeches into English. Our artwork was shown in the main lobby of the school.
This was not the only thing unusual about Mrs. Worthsmith. If it had been, only the ones like me who truly loved school would have liked this teacher at all. This lady’s mission was to make the learning experience as enjoyable as possible.
The tent dress I had seen her wear the year before was just a hint of what fun this teacher could be. Most elementary school teachers get dressed up for Halloween along with the children. Mrs. Worthsmith not only wore her witch costume but also dyed the white streak in her hair orange. When December rolled around, she dyed the streak blue. For Valentine’s Day, she walked into the classroom with a pink streak in her hair. Of course, for St. Patrick’s Day, Mrs. Worthsmith’s famous streak was green. At the end of the school year, she dyed it yellow. I never did find out the reason for that one.
In March, as Mrs. Worthsmith has promised, our days became the same as everyone else’s in the school. We studied the other chapters in our social studies textbook, did the story problems in math, and constructed sentences in our English class.
Mrs. Worthsmith was and still is the inspiration of my unquenchable thirst to learn and to find pleasure in whatever I do. I hope everyone has a teacher like her. I was clearly one of the students who loved her.