Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mrs. J





She looked like the stereotypical farm wife--housedress, Keds tennis shoes on her feet, no frills, just her wedding ring and a handkerchief.  She loved deer hunting in the fall and "her kids" the rest of the year. She always had a smile on her face and I don't know if I ever heard her raise her voice.  She didn't need to.


I received the email that she passed away on Saturday.  Mrs. J, as she was fondly referred to, wasn't the world's best teacher--but she was one of the most loved teachers I have ever worked with. Young adults in their 30's remember sitting in her class, vying for the infamous sour balls she kept in her room.  (I'm sure she must have owned stock in the company).  Even when she was a sub in her later years, there were always sour balls for the good, the bad, the loud, the lonely.  I'm not sure what it took exactly to be rewarded with a sour ball, but you felt special when you earned one.


I first met Mrs. J in about 1988, when I took a long term sub position in sixth grade.  She had the room across the hall from me.  I loved hearing the learning and the fun coming from her classroom. Especially considering I was teaching from the notecards in the box on the desk, a sure sign that the teacher I was teaching for never changed her lesson plans. Mrs. J always had practical advice, and she made sure I had back up when I needed it. 


While she loved all her students, boys seemed  to be her favorite. And they loved her. My oldest son's  Facebook status on Sunday, "Goodbye Mrs. J. You're one of the reasons I want to be a teacher." And it's true. His love of history and his wanting to be a teacher are a direct result of her teaching in fifth grade.  


A colleague posted, "When people ask me who my favorite teacher of all time is, the answer is so simple for me. No doubt in my mind Mrs. J was the one. She gave me my nickname of Rah back in 5th grade and it has stuck with me through the years. You have touched so many lives and will be missed by so many!"


Mrs. J had to retire when her husband became ill.  She wasn't ready to go. We all knew that. After he passed away, she came back to sub and continued until about five years ago.  I don't know how old she was, but she continued teaching long after most would have. And she will be missed...

15 comments:

  1. What a lovely tribute to someone who made an impression on those she knew.

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  2. You have written so lovingly about an important person from your life. You don't have to be the best teacher, just the best person. I love that thought.

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  3. It's so sweet to talk about a teacher that you loved, that touched your life and your son's. I hope you can send this to her family. They will love the words, so you will pay it forward for her, Deb. I love "sour balls for the good, the bad, the loud, the lonely". Great way to put those little things that mean so much. Thanks for the smile!

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  4. Beautiful tribute to a special person, not only in your life, but in the many lives that she touched over the years. I thought your son put it perfectly on Facebook - "Goodbye Mrs. J. You're one of the reasons I want to be a teacher." Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Your description is so caring and full of details that make it easy to feel as if we knew her too! Like Linda, I love the line about the sour balls -- it's the perfect way to show how much she cared about ALL students.

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  6. I'm going to miss that lady! She was a great person and teacher. I always loved hearing her personal stories and experiences. She truly had a huge heart and left great memories for all those she met in life. Love you Mrs. J!

    Great tribute Mrs. Day! One I'm sure would have made her proud.

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  7. I loved this part, "Young adults in their 30's remember sitting in her class, vying for the infamous sour balls she kept in her room." My grandma used to have Brach sour balls in a light green dish. They always remind me of her...and now Mrs. J. Great tribute

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  8. I loved the "wedding ring and hankerchief" detail and how she rewarded all sorts of students with the sour balls. She reminds me of my own Mrs. Charles, my third grade teacher who just recently retired. What a fitting tribute to Mrs. J and a wonderful legacy she left the people in your community.

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  9. Nice to be remembered like that! She sounds like she was a pleasant soul that loved kids. And that is what is really most important about teaching.

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  10. So I"m thinking now.. not the best teacher but one of the world's most loved. Why the distinction? What was she missing? Just wondering.
    It was such a wonderful tribute- UNIQUE!
    Bonnie

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  11. Mrs. J sounds like one of those teachers everyone will remember because she cared. When I think back to some of the teachers I remember, have enjoyed working beside, I find myself remembering the ones who cared about the children they spent their time with each day. It sounds like she has touched the lives of many. What a beautiful tribute.

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  12. Your words are so honest and heartfelt. I loved that line about not being the best, but being one of the most loved. Sometimes heart makes up for the rest. I have a feeling Mrs. J was the type of teacher who knew how connected people were with her. You don't remain in the profession for that long without strong connections. Mrs. J was as lucky to know you as you were to know her.

    Thank you for your words today and last week. I am lucky to know you.

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  13. Your oldest son's facebook status...WOW! I wonder if Mrs. J would have participated in Facebook. I tribute to a teacher that impacted many. I am sure fond stories have been passed around about Mrs. J. but writing about her is, to me, the true tribute. I find your statement she wasn't the best but most loved to be a statement to think about.

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  14. You paint a lovely picture of your Mrs. J. Doesn't everyone need a Mrs. J in their life? I hope she knew how so many of her students felt about her.
    On a side note, I had to laugh at the lesson plans in a box in a card file because during my first long term sub position I filled in for a teacher who had the exact same process - day by day lessons in a card file. Flip one over every day of the year.

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  15. I know your community is going to miss Mrs. J. Your tribute makes me feel like I knew her, too. God bless you all in your grief.

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