Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Saturday, October 4, 2014

Thank you, Teacher.

Thank you, Miss Wornoski


Miss Wornoski and her 31 little readers
I love to read.
It started very early.
Grade one.
Miss Wornoski taught me.
I don't remember the mechanics of learning.
Only the sudden explosion of knowledge that came with recognizing series of letters strung together.
Miss Wornoski had a list of words on a large flip chart.
And each of us in the class was taken, publicly, through it.
I remember her pointing to each word with a long, slender stick and the victim participant having to then read it out.
A word about the stick. It was about three feet long, with a soft, squishy, plastic, cone-shaped tip.
Tons of fun to play with when the teacher wasn't in the room.
Ahem . . .
Day by day, she worked her way around the room.
Closer and closer to me.
Who would have guessed that panic was one of the subjects taught in the first grade?
Well, it was.
Very well.
If I would have studied the chart, I would have realized that I could read every word on it.
But I didn't.
Thus started a pattern in my life that has served me far too well.
But I digress . . .
Finally, it was my turn.
Miss Wornoski looked at me. “Diane.”
Everything I had ever known simply . . . fled.
Taking my blood and body temperature with it.
A now-frozen lump, I turned slowly and stared at her.
“Its your turn, dear,” she said softly.
Her words might as well have been: Ready! Aim! Fire!
I was about to die.
I swallowed.
And nodded.
The pointer was raised.
I watched as it moved.
Sooo slowly.
Tapped on the first word.
“And,” I said, shakily.
Next word.
“The.”
Next. Ooh, a toughie.
“Into.”
Next.
“For.”
And so it went.
Pointer . . . pointed.
I said the word.
Pointer moved on.
I was doing it!
The panic started to ebb.
With only one slight hesitation, on the unbelievably difficult word, 'house', I was done.
Faster than anyone.
Miss Wornoski smiled. “Very well done, Diane,” she said.
I had done it!
Celebrations were in order.
“Diane, sit down.”
Later.
She handed me my first. Real. Book. “Here, dear, read this,” she said.
And she moved on to the next student.
I stared at the book she had given me.
The Little White House.
There was a picture of a boy riding a horse on the cover.
We were instant friends.
I opened it and, for the first time began to read a story to myself.
Riveting tales of Tom, Betty and Susan as they:
  1. Helped their parents
  2. Got presents
  3. Rode Pony
  4. Played with Flip
The magic had begun.

There is a codicil . . .
My Husby and I were on a book-signing tour through the US.
We stopped at a tiny little restaurant in tiny-er Dell, Montana, called the Calf-A.
Exceptional food, especially the roast beef.
And pie to die for.
Sorry. Moving on . . .
The restaurant was housed in what had been the little country school.
The blackboards and even some of the pictures and furniture were still there.
On a shelf was a stack of old text books.
While waiting for my order, I wandered over and looked at them.
And there, right in the middle was my book.
My first book.
Just as I remembered it.
I dragged it out and hurried back to our table.
“Look!” I shoved it under my Husby's nose. “Look! It's my first book!
I sat down and opened the cover.
Instantly, I was transported back to my sunny classroom at Milk River Elementary.
To my seat beside the windows.
Right in front of the teacher's desk.
I could smell the chalk dust.
And see Miss Wornoski taking yet another student through her chart of words.
Paradise.
I had nearly read The Little White House through by the time our meal arrived.
Not a statement on how long it took to be served.
But rather on how quickly I could now read.
Thank you, Miss Wornoski.
You changed my life.

15 comments:

  1. I love this Diane! Learning to read is such a gift that we often take for granted. What a wonderful teacher you had, and such great memories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll never forget her. She opened the world to me!

      Delete
  2. This made me nostalgic for my own Grade Primary through Grade Three teacher in our two-room school, Diane. And that book looks familiar :) I'm glad you got over your panic about words ... we reap the benefits over and over!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For the rest of our lives . . .

      Delete
    2. Yes, that's true ... but I actually meant "we, your readers" reap the benefits of you getting over your panic!

      You are so right, too, that being able to read is the foundation for many other good things.

      Delete
  3. How fun to rediscover your first book!
    And I have been to the Dell Calf-A!! Stopped off their twice on visits to California - first time on the suggestion of a friend, and second time just because we loved their pie!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heehee! We did exactly the same. On the way down, because BIL told us to. On the way back because once just isn't enough!

      Delete
  4. So cool, Diane! I learned to read from my grandfather, who used to carry me around and get me to spell out street signs...such a wonderful gift!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm a lover of reading too, I learned at age three, watching and listening to my mum helping my struggling older sister with her grade one Dick and Dora stories. I remember being disappointed when I finally got to grade one and they had nothing new.
    I'm amazed that your first book would still be around just in the right place for you to find.

    ReplyDelete
  6. There are 5 of us kids and the biggest gap is between my older brother and I. It's 6 years. I guess mom had more time with me and I was the only girl. By the time I got to 1st grade I could already read. Mom of course knew my teacher and they gave me special permission to check out library books. I was the only 1 in 4 classes and I cannot remember when I was any prouder when the teacher would call out once a week. "Rena you may go to the library now" haha I felt like a rock star!!!

    ReplyDelete

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