Now that my children’s book Kangaroo’s Shoes is finally published, I can share it with those who will appreciate it most — kids! Last month, I had the pleasure of going back to my elementary school, E.G. Shaw Elementary School, in Beavercreek, Ohio.
I hadn’t been back on the school grounds since 1986 and it had been even longer since I’d left the second grade. You can imagine my surprise when I saw this sign after parking my car and walking toward the front door.
It almost brought a tear to my eye before even stepping inside. Right then it hit me. A guest visitor is a big deal. Having a guest in class for these little second graders meant a different schedule, lesson plan, and perhaps a bit of excitement. I began to feel a little nervous myself. I hoped I wouldn’t let them down.
I walked into the Principal’s office, a place you didn’t want to be as a kid, and signed in as a visitor. Whew… it was much easier in adult shoes.
I was escorted to the first classroom and as I scanned the hallways, it seemed surreal. I was transported back in time circa 1980. The hallways were a little narrower and the chairs and desks were much smaller, however, I knew exactly which teachers occupied which classrooms during my time there. In fact, the first class that I walked into was my old fourth grade home room. I knew exactly where I sat and Mrs. Mort was my teacher.
That day, I read to six different second grade classes and bumped into some unexpected familiar faces, including an old friend who is now a teacher, an old student teacher who had taught one of my classes in high school and is now the assistant principal, and even two teachers who remained from my days at Shaw School. I was honored by the fact that my former fifth grade teacher, who had retired several years ago, came back just to see me. It was nice to catch up with her as an adult.
One of the funniest moments was bumping into a “teacher’s aid” whose face I knew looked familiar. After reading her name tag, I realized that she was a mother of twin girls who were my classmates. She’d always been active when her own children were in school and was now again because she had seven grandchildren enrolled there too.
The story readings to each of the second grade classes were in groups of 20 or so and pretty informal. We’d start out with introducing the characters, explain the roles of an author and illustrator or discuss what it means to rhyme. I then read the book to them.
I couldn’t believe how attentive and well-behaved all the children were. After the story was finished, I answered their questions. There were some pretty astute observations as well. One child suggested I write a series. That’s, pretty shrewd business sense for a seven-year-old! Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of me with the class but I will remember it forever.
The experience was so familiar and homey. The whole thing made me a little nostalgic and I couldn’t help but leave with a smile on my face.
Before I left, I donated a copy of my book to the school library, signed books for the teachers and had my picture taken next to the school mascot. This was relevant because as a sixth grader, I won a contest in that gave the Shaw Tiger his name that is still used today, “Sebastian.” It’s a small world after all.
This last photo is of a poster board that stood in the school lobby.
Sometimes you can’t escape the past.