Third grade was a rough year for me. So far I had been at a different school each year, K-3. This school was in a different town than what I called "home" and I really didn't like anything about living there. I had no friends, I missed my home and the wonderful teacher I had for 2nd grade, and this teacher ran the gamut from ignoring me to flat-out contempt, when I did an assignment the way my mom advised me to, against my better judgement that the teacher was looking for something else.
Two months in to the school year, we moved back home and I went back to the school I had been in for second grade. The teacher was probably the oldest one in the school, with a very severe looking face and the reputation of a personality to match. The first week, she showed her annoyance with me when I brought in an 8 pack of Crayola markers in the Bold colors, instead of the classics. So what if they didn't have black or orange? I liked them.
Her class wasn't all bad - she was reading to us from the Little House books, starting with Little House in the Big Woods and going in order. I arrived in time for Little House on the Prairie to begin and I loved her doll that was based Laura's doll Charlotte. I just tried to keep my head down and not call too much attention to myself, because I clearly was not going share the fondness I had for my second grade teacher with this lady either.
Springtime in North Texas is unpredictable, and for a little girl whose absolute biggest fear in the world was thunderstorms turning into tornadoes, it was always rough. At that time, I sat in the back corner of the room. This had the benefit of keeping me out of the direct sight-line of this teacher. However, it also meant that I sat right next to the glass door that led outside to the playground. One day, I was front-row to a pretty nasty looking storm - the sky was darker than it had a right to be at 1 in the afternoon, and I was pretty sure the tree right outside was going to be hurling branches into the road. I didn't want to call attention to myself, but I could not stop my freak-out from happening, so picture a little brunette in the back of the class hiding behind a book while the tears are pouring out of her eyes and her shoulders are shaking as quietly as they can. No sound came out of my mouth but I was in full-on panic mode. I didn't notice that, during a Laura Ingalls read-aloud, my teacher had made her way over to where I was. The first thing she did was to shut the blinds on the door, so I couldn't watch what was going on, and then she just placed a hand on my shoulder as she kept on reading. There wasn't a touch of sternness in any of this - she was as tender as could be.
She doesn't live on in my memory on the same pedestals as other teachers (2nd grade, middle school math and English, high school English III and IV), but I have never ever forgotten that moment when she stepped up and comforted a little girl who would have been fine being ignored the rest of the year.