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