"Your sixth grade teacher"
During my sixth grade year (1978) my parents were divorcing. There wasn't any trauma as far as who I would live with, I was in the home that I grew up in with my mom and my sister and nothing much changed with my day-to-day routine. There was one trait that I picked up that wasn't easy and that was never wanting to leave my mom. When she would get ready for work I remember sitting on the edge of her bed, watching her put on make-up with the help of her GE Lighted Vanity Mirror (day - office - home - evening. Which will it be?) and asking, 'Can I go to work with you? I can help you!'. Her stock answer "School is your work. You're going to school."
Even though my routine didn't change - school/home/play outside/dinner - my life was changing, people were leaving and I didn't like this feeling.
In my city of Portland, OR we have a great program for Portland Public Schools called Outdoor School. 6th grade students grab their sleeping bags, stuff their belongings into a waterproof bag (Oregon - yay!) step out from the class room onto a school bus and travel to a camp to get an education about the great outdoors for one week. For the kids that liked camping this was great. For the kids that didn't like camping this wasn't so great. And for the kid who didn't like camping and didn't want to leave her mother, a.k.a. Me, it was torture. I most emphatically did NOT want to go. pleasedon'tmakemepleasedon'tmakeme
I was really upset about going to Outdoor School and I thought I had convinced my mom I shouldn't go and that's why she was calling Ms. Harris. My sixth grade teacher, Ms. Harris, had the coolest white girl afro I had ever seen and was a wonderful, supportive person. The thing is my mom wasn't calling to have me excused, she was talking to my teacher to say get my daughter on that bus! Oh boy.
Our departure day was so stressful for me. I could not understand why this was happening to me! Doesn't my mom know I don't want to do this? Doesn't my teacher realize I'll be so upset I won't learn anything! I was so scared. When I walked up to the bus Ms. Harris gave me a big hug and told me not to worry and that I was going to have a really good time. Yeah, right.
I did have a really good time! After a week of making new friends, mud, Johnny-Jump-Up's, mud, evening camp fires and mud I was sold that Outdoor School was pretty darn great. I needed this break from my real life.
Ms. Harris' parting gift to me was including me on the crew to perform the Outdoor School closing flag ceremony. At the base of the American Flag stood eight children from different schools who had become friends within a matter of a few days. Eight sad, crying, bawling children who were not happy that the week was over.
I'll never forget my week at Outdoor School. And I thank Ms. Harris for allowing me to give my experience a proper goodbye.
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