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
22 thoughts on “In Honor of Mrs. Seibert”
WHOA! I found you 🙂 but that can’t be you? Where was this school? A great story and a great caring teacher.
Rena this is a heart-warming story and I enjoyed reading about the help you got and also all the things you did in the fourth grade. I think I know which one is you.
Oh Rena, Is that you in the checkered frock? I love your story and I love Mrs. Seibert. May God bless the heritage that she passed on to the youth whose lives she touched with such wisdom.
God certainly has had His hand on you from your childhood…with godly parents and godly teachers.
Your story encourages those of us who are teachers and parents to recommit and be resolute in the important labor of love that teaching and training children involves.
Sara the school was located in Toms Brook, Virginia. It was such a beautiful little school long ago. It is chipping and has been let go to the elements. It is not being used now and is falling down. It is such a pity.
thanks for posting the story Mrs.Oynes it was beautiful. I loved re
i loved reading it!
I love your story. Keep writing more of them.
Your former student,
I cant wait to join your writing after school program!
Oh, no! Why is the school not being used? Or restored for posterity? Isn’t Toms Brook in Shenandoah County? Maybe your story will be the start of getting just the right political people involved to restore this school. Next time down let’s get a picture of the school. Do you remember how many rooms the school had? Was it only an elementary school?
I wonder if the thoughtfulness of Mrs. Seibert helped you with your life changing decision to become a teacher?
We loved reading your story. We think we found you:)
Keep them coming… You are a fntastic woman and we all like to read what you have to say:) xoxo – the Ruggiero family
How blessed you were to have had a wonderful teacher, like Mrs. Seibert. She obviously cared about children and wanted them to learn. Sara asked an interesting question, “I wonder if the thoughtfulness of Mrs. Seibert helped you with your life changing decision to become a teacher?” Rena, I know you have touched the lives of many children, along your career path. I pray God will continue to bless you and many other teachers, who help children succeed, in the area of education. Thanks for sharing this special story, about your life.
The school has a special problem in that it was built when asbestos was used.
It is a precious school. I hope that there are people out there who would like to restore it. It would take a lot of finances. It has a big gym from my perspective as a child. We would play basketball and in May have the giant May pole which we would intertwine colorful ribbon by going in and out and around. It was such fun.
I believe there was only one room per grade through the sixth grade. There was a huge science lab area. There was a stone arch/bridge which connected the cafeteria. We loved walking over the bridge to the cafeteria.
Dear Ruggiero family,
Where do you think I am in the picture?
Mrs. Seibert did give me a love of teaching. She was very personable and loved
kids. I loved all the art, music, dance, and creative way of presenting lessons.
I hope I have passed on her legacy of the love of teaching to others.
Rena, thank you for sharing this wonderful story about your school days. God bless all those “Mrs. Seiberts ” that are in the classroom today. Helping, encouraging and loving their students. Not sure which one is you on the picture. Maybe you can give me a hint.
CF, I will give you a clue. Rena is close to the teacher. 🙂 Don’t tell her I gave you this clue.
Oh,Thank you Sara. I won’t tell Rena that you gave me a clue.:)
Rena with many teachers back in school for the new school year, this story should be a reminder of the reason they are there and of the value…for the students. Teachers can get caught up in the paperwork, their own agendas and lots of other things and lose sight of the lives God has entrusted to them to teach and help. Remembering Mrs Seibert and the difference she made in your life is a great motivational tool to keep in our thoughts and lesson plans.
Amen Debi! I pray that the teachers walk in the classroom with the mind of Christ and look at each precious student as a mission for God’s Kingdom.
Dear Mrs. Oynes,
My family enjoyed reading this story before going to bed and we hope to take a field trip to locate this school. It shouldn’t be too long of a drive. I am still amazed how one person can positively change and impact the life of another, just as Mrs. Seibert did yours. Thank you for sharing this treasure!
The Teets Family
Hi Mrs. Teets…great to see you on our thedailylily.org blog. Rena’s story is a heartwarming and encouraging tale of one who knew her calling and gift(s) and walked in it (them), daily. I hope to emulate Mrs. Seibert and other educator heroes who put themselves out every day to serve the youth of our nation and to thus bring honor to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, even when we cannot pray aloud in class, or teach Bible per se, still this kind of dedication and love of children speaks Scriptural volumes.
Dear Mrs. Teets,
I’m so glad you and your two young sons enjoyed the story. I’m sure you will find the school. Even though it is an aging dinosaur. If one could visualize it in its youth it would be beautiful. I often wonder about buildings like this. A good title for a book would be “If These Walls Could Talk”. At least one voice reached beyond that classroom and touched so many – Mrs. Seibert. There were other great teachers, but that particular teacher literally changed my life.
May the Lord bless you and all teachers who begin their new school year.
May they model the love of Jesus even if they can’t speak it. I have found that many times students know you love Jesus just through modeling love to them.
Through your love and kindness to students, may you shine for Jesus!