Thank You to Mrs. Noel, First Grade Teacher
--by nancy.millichap, posted Jan 25, 2015
Every day, the first things I do - and a large percentage of the rest of the things I do throughout the day - depend on my ability to read.
Some decades ago , I joined 40 other six-year-olds as a member of the first township-wide first grade – the previous year, first graders in the township had still attended one-room schools, but the Baby Boom had reached even that rural corner of central Pennsylvania. Sprawling in comparison to the previous schools, the new building had a separate classroom for each grade.
First grade had been assigned to a veteran teacher from one of the one-room schools named Mrs. Noel. I don’t know how she did it, but Mrs. Noel taught most of us the basics of reading. In doing so, she opened to us a lifetime of being able to go beyond the immediate moment and surroundings and to enter through our minds the perspectives of others whom we would never meet, sharing in their wisdom and their experiences.
Given our sheer numbers as well as the complexity of the skill, hers was not an easy task. In fact, it’s not an easy task for any teacher. I am eternally grateful to Mrs. Noel and to all the other remarkable women and men who have taken on that role of early elementary school teaching that is so critically important in expanding the minds of children and enabling them to begin their lives as thinking, problem-solving, creative contributors to their world.