With Spring behind us and summer about to hang itself up for another seasonal year, we are now facing Autumn. A time when we remember the smell and purchase of new school supplies. For each student the expectation is a little nerve racking.I remember one such year – a year to remember – a year to give thanks for – a year to give praise to God for such a caring teacher, Mrs. Seibert.s
After a totally frustrating third grade class, I was so unsure of what lay ahead for the next year. Autumn came around and I could only picture another year just like the previous one.
This thought was not caused by the teacher. I had loved the teacher’s dramatization of Peter Rabbit. I could hardly wait until she started reading. Her voice had resonated throughout the classroom. Not a sound could be heard from the students who were focused on every word that came out of her mouth. Her dramatization seemed to make the characters in the book come alive and dance in front of our eyes.
This thought was not due to the students who were a joy to be around. Recess became one of my favorite times of day. The see saw, swings, and merry go round were favorites. Somehow I never wanted this time to end but it did. The problem was that my grades were less than perfect. C’s and an unsatisfactory dotted the hand written grades and the comments were needs to work harder. The teacher chose to pass me and if I didn’t do well I would be going back to third or that is what my mind said to me. Third again. My sister was going to be in third. What would her friends say? What would my friends say?
Mrs. Seibert was a dream come true from the beginning. I just knew perhaps I could have a fresh start to fourth grade. You might say Mrs. Seibert was sweet as honey, as her words were healing and danced in the ears of the 32 children seated before her. She was at times playful and other times seemed to enjoy feeding us nuggets of learning from her hand – one handful at a time.
She seemed to love each child and just know that they would become somebody in their future. What a load of students she had that year. She started out each day with prayer and songs. I will never forget The Battle Hymn of the Republic (still a favorite) being belted out in the room. We also learned to play the recorder that year.
She encouraged listening to music and participating in art. To my surprise I got many of my pictures put above the blackboard. My cousin was in the class. He seemed to encourage the teacher to put my pictures up. At recess Mrs. Seibert would invite a few students who were doing well behaviorally to stay behind and turn on the old record player and dance to their hearts content. She would occasionally dance a step or two with us. I was so lucky to be chosen a number of times. I rocked around the small dance floor in the small space that did not encompass students which was in back of the room.
Due to being a shy, quiet student, I was again placed in the back of the room. Quickly Mrs. Seibert knew something was wrong. Due to not seeing, I often sat tracing and retracing my name on my leg in order not to call attention to myself and to keep quiet about my problem. One day I could not understand what the spelling words were. I thought maybe it might have been the months of the year. I went home and looked them up. Boy was I surprised when the list was the days of the week and I was supposed to know the abbreviations. Trying to figure the abbreviations for my list was difficult. I sat and pondered what the abbreviation was for May. Mrs. Seibert saw that I was very puzzled and came up to me. “What is the problem she asked?”
I replied, I can’t figure out the abbreviation for May.
She quizzically looked at me. “May?” She said, “Rena our spelling words were the days of the week.” She gave me a hug and said I’ll let you try again next week.
She handed me a handwritten spelling list for that week and the next couple of weeks . She stood me before an eye chart. Pointing from one line to the other she found I could see very little with the glasses that I wore all the time.
She called my mother in for a conference. “Mrs. Raynor your daughter has difficulty seeing. She can not see the board. I notice she does have glasses. Does she have headaches.
Mom said, “Yes she does. Often she will go get Betsey and Ross, our two cows, and sit on the old enclosed well and cry and cry with the pain of a headache.
Mrs. Seibert replied, “Well then I think you might want to get a second opinion on Rena’s eyes. I would suggest you try an eye specialist in Winchester.
Mom said she would make the appointment right away.
The findings of the doctor were shocking. Rena had the wrong glasses on.
She was nearsighted and not farsighted. The adjustment in lenses was made. Mrs. Seibert took Rena under her wing and helped her with reading. Rena slowly moved up from one group to the other. Her grades started improving. Happy days for Rena.
Meanwhile Mrs. Seibert had one daughter. She was the delight of her life. She was several years younger than we were. She contracted leukemia. Medicine to cure leukemia had not been invented and Mrs. Seibert lost her daughter that year. We all were so sad for Mrs. Seibert. We cried and cried.
We became her children, never to replace the daughter she lost, but we were loved as she loved her daughter. She loved us and encouraged us to be the best we could be. She went on teaching for many years encouraging children to become who God had intended them to become.
By Rena K. Oynes
double click on picture and find Rena