I paused for a few of reasons. First, anytime I see Sharon Creech tweet anything, I pay attention. One of the powers of twitter is, for me, the fact that I can communicate with one of my favorite authors on a daily basis. Two, I pondered if I was a “Stretchberry”. I hoped so. Love that Dog is one of my favorite books. I love reading the conversation between Jack and his teacher. I love that she inspires Jack to become more.
That led me to my final thought, had I been taught by a Miss Stretchberry? I would say a resounding yes. In response to Sharon Creech’s tweet, I sent this out.
Ms. Tuck was my first grade teacher. I think it was her first year of teaching. I idolized her. I clearly remember her clothes; she wore button down shirts, untucked, with a narrow belt around her waist. I remember asking for button down shirts and skinny belts for Christmas so I could dress just like her. What must she have thought of this six year old who was trying to be her? I don’t remember much of what she taught but more how I felt. Special. I felt that she loved me. I wanted to impress her. Was continually striving to do my best. I remember her giving me book after book to read.
Even after I left her room, she still sought me out. When I was a second grader I read the book The Monster at the End of this Book. I loved it. Miss Tuck came to me and asked if I would mind visiting her classroom and reading the book to her first graders. I don’t know how she knew I was reading that book or why she asked me, but what an important day that was.
First, I practiced reading it aloud. I lined up my stuffed animals in my bedroom, pretended they were my students. Read it aloud over and over. I would hold up the book as I read just as I saw my teachers do. I was nervous but so excited.
Then the day came. I sat in the front of her students, they sat on the floor. I read my book to them making sure to make my voice as expressive as possible. They laughed along as I read. Wow, it almost felt like power. I was reading and the kids were listening, enjoying, connecting. I left that room liking that feeling with the seed planted. I wanted to read to kids when I grew up. I wanted to make them laugh. I wanted to teach.
So I thank Sharon for making me take a trip down memory lane last night. I think of Miss Tuck often. I hope I am creating the same environment in my classroom that she did in 1980-81 in my first grade class. A room full of responsibility, wonder, possibility, and love. Thank you Jan Tuck for wanting me to do more.