There were some teachers in my life

who stand out in my memory,

Now, more than 50 years ago,

My first grade teacher, Sister Tarcisius,

Who taught my sister, brother, father,

aunt and uncle

and celebrated  her Golden Jubilee

as a Franciscan nun is first

to come to mind;

She was a gentle woman

who taught first graders for five decades

I prefer not to remember my fourth grade

teacher, sister Cecilia, who perhaps

would have been better off

anywhere but teaching young children;

she pulled my hair once when

I entered church without a scarf on my head

(which I had forgotten to wear)

she pulled me by the hair out of church

and threatened to beat me.

I told my mother, who send sister a note

telling her if anyone was going to beat

her daughter, it would be her and not

sister Cecilia.  Sister never forgave me

for that.  Fourth grade was an ordeal.

I wonder now why I didn’t ask to be

changed to another fourth grade class?

It just wasn’t done, I think.

But the fifth grade brought me to Sister Doris Marie,

who taught us long division and diagramming

sentences, who read stories to the class and

loved children; we loved her in return.

The greatest gift I received for sixth grade

was a return to Sister Doris Marie’s classroom.

She taught me to love school.

Eighth grade brought me to the classroom

of Sister Charlene, who was also St Leo’s school

Principal. the 8th grade girls would follow

Sister Charlene around the playground; she

was also greatly loved by her students.

After graduating from 8th grade, I began

going to high school at Mother of Mercy

where I immediately made an enemy of

Sister Seraphia who found me entering

the Cloister as I tried to find my Science

Class on the first day of school. “Didn’t

you see the sign reading “Cloister?” she

remanded. “Yes, ” I said, “but I didn’t know

what it meant.”  Sister Seraphia had it in

for me for four years starting with my

Freshman religion class.

At my 50th class reunion, a group of us

were standing outside in the parking

lot–Sister Seraphia was one of the people

in that group. I told my cloister story and

she said “Oh, you probably didn’t know

what it mean”.  Really, Sister Seraphia?

I carried a burden of guilt for 54 years?


I had several favorite teachers in high school;

Mrs. Cunningham, our cooking teacher was

one–I was finally in my element. Another was

my American History Teacher and my typing

teacher–both read my stories and encouraged

me to write.  These were a few of the teachers

who saw something in me that I didn’t know

wat there at the time.

At my sixtieth class reunion in April of 2018, I

was able to purchase the four Mercy yearbooks

for 1955-1958 and now the names of all these

teachers are firm in my memory.

Sandra Lee Smith

Originally written February 2010, updated

June, 2018


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