A new building—new rooms, teachers, and classmates in grades three through five. A nerve-racking experience, to say the least. But then, I met Mrs. Moore at Hartland South Elementary.
Mrs. Moore, my third and fourth grade teacher was my first truly incredible educator. I remember the moment I saw her—she wasn’t an average teacher. She looked cool, with dark hair and a nose piercing. She had a voice that you couldn’t ignore—when she spoke, everyone listened.
In that class, we went outside every Thursday. There was a forest and pond in the backyard of our school, but we also went to local parks and trails to learn about the world around us. This was such a great part of her classes; it instilled an appreciation of the world around me at a young age.
On a warm spring day, the class put on waders and went into the pond to observe and identify insects and creatures. I recall taking a step into an unexpectedly deeper area of the pond and hearing a suction—the next thing I knew, I was stuck.
I gave my best friend a terrified look. We both knew what happened and we burst out laughing. I wiggled my boot, but the waders were so heavy they wouldn’t budge. I yelled, “I’m stuck!”
Mrs. Moore yelled back, “Alright, I’m on my way!” She clomped to the shore and took careful steps over to me. Then, she grabbed my arm and yanked me upwards, which we found absolutely comical. The next time I approached the unknown, I would definitely think twice and be more cautious about where I stepped.
Mrs. Moore went above and beyond. I remember sitting in the classroom bathroom, crying (which was not an uncommon occurrence). She came to me and talked to me like I was a person. She did not patronize me; she validated my feelings and made me feel like I could trust her. Because I wore my heart on my sleeve, I felt like I was alone. She talked me through my thoughts and emotions and reassured me I was not alone.
She mentored me not just as a student, but also in life. I remember her checking up on me, and always keeping an eye out to make sure I was doing okay. I spent the whole school day with her. She took advantage of that and made an impact.
She left before I would start fifth grade. I remember the class, including her, crying on her last day. We had grown so close; it was one of the first times I felt like I belonged on a team, and I know others felt the same.
She had touched a group of third, fourth, and fifth graders—eased our nerves and made us feel like school was a lively place to be. We were so upset that she was leaving that we didn’t get the chance to say thank you—for being there at all.