Thursday, 31 January 2013

Miss Schaller

You know how I feel about using code names on this blog. It started out to protect privacy, and has evolved into something that is just downright fun. MY name may give you the ability to find me in the Real World (it's kind of unusual), but most names I could mention wouldn't help you at all. I can tell you that I have a friend named Sara. There, now you can track me down and stalk me, right?


So anyway.

I like code names, but they are mostly just for fun. In this case, however, I'm trying something new. I'm going to tell you about my second grade teacher, Miss Schaller, who was a creature of sparkle and magic. I strongly suspect that in a past life she was a unicorn. She was that. amazing.

The summer before second grade, I heard about our two different options for teachers. Mrs Ferrin taught one second grade class, and Miss Schaller taught the other. My friend was dying to have Miss Schaller, and I was desperate to have Mrs Ferrin. As luck would have it, of course, the opposite assignments came about, and I found myself in Miss Schaller's class on the first day of school. It was one of the great pieces of luck in my life.

Miss Schaller was young, fun, enthusiastic, and a zoo keeper. I mean, she wasn't really a zoo keeper, but in our classroom we had quite the assortment of critters. Hercules was a large grey rabbit you could take out on a leash at recess, if you had enough stickers on your chart. Quills was a friendly hedgehog (the first I had ever seen). Pattern and Diamond were two small turtles, not very creatively named by an 8 year old... me. There was also a mudpuppy, and a couple of frogs. Yes, friends, it was a hell of a classroom. It would have stood out anywhere, but in suburban Indiana, it was downright exotic.

And that wasn't even the end of it.

Miss Schaller practically oozed kindness and delight in activities. She! Loved! Everything! While I feel certain that one or another of us must have awoken her frustration at some point, I have no memory of this. She is packed away in my brain, a memory made by an 8 year old, as someone who was endlessly smiley.

She danced in the front of the classroom, waved her hands enthusiastically as she explained, got us all involved in projects all of the time, and threw her chalk in the air once to make a point. (It promptly vanished, and we were all awe-struck. It was later discovered, I believe, in the creases of one of the hanging maps... but that did nothing to convince us that Miss Schaller wasn't magical.)

From Miss Schaller, I learned about the parasaurolophus (my favourite dinosaur to this day), and how to write an informal letter. She taught us to spell, to research, and (much to my disgust) units of math that I have blocked from my mind. I know that math drills involved "board races," which I loathed, but even at 8 I realised that no one was perfect. Board races were Miss Schaller's one great flaw.

We put on puppet shows. We learned that air had weight (who knew??) and we performed experiment after experiment.

I want to teach middle school, not second grade, but Miss Schaller is certainly one of the reasons I want to teach at all.

**This post is part of the Writer's Workshop, over at**


  1. She sounds wonderful!! Thank goodness for great teachers who keep the cycle of great teachers going!

    1. She was! It's wonderful having such inspiration in the world.