I am not prone to sentimentality or walks down memory lane.
However, on Monday I found myself pulled in that direction. I had gone to take some pictures of the demolition of East LaFollette Elementary School.
As I walked around the building where my education began, I could hear the laughter of my classmates and me still echoing from years ago. I also heard our occasional whines.
Through a window where the glass was already gone, I could see the chalkboard of my sixth grade classroom. Anne DuBose was my teacher that year. I adored her. As far as that goes, the entire class did. She knew how to walk that fine line between letting 12 –year- olds test their wings while still keeping them under hers.
On another side of the building was Mary Ollie Andrews’s classroom. The windows were also missing there allowing a small shaft of sun to light the room. Her strictness laced with kindness and a passion for learning could still be felt in the air. Ms. Andrews loved teaching. But most of all she loved watching us learn.
Further down in the building sat the classroom where it all began for many of us- Emma Teague’s kindergarten classroom.
The year I started school was her last year to teach. She had stuck around to teach her nephew, Paul Provins. At least that was the rumor around the monkey bars. We were all convinced that because Paul was in our class we were being treated special by Ms. Teague. It would be many years before we figured out Ms. Teague treated us special because she truly believed we were.
I have often heard graduates of LaFollette High School talk about how their years at LHS shaped their lives. They have mentioned the friendships made in those years and how they continue to this day.
I guess that is how I look back on East LaFollette. There was a group of us who seemed to always end up in the same class year after year. Maybe it was fate or the teachers knew keeping all of us together would let them know exactly what we were doing.
In the end, what it did was give us a unique bond.
To this day, when I talk to Paul Provins, Cindi Reynolds, Cyndi Poteet or Leo Lobertini we eventually wind up referencing our formative years together.
Now I have my own children who are in the throws of the elementary experience. When I look at their class pictures and think back to my own I have a simple wish for them. Once they are grown and invested in their careers I hope their memories of their elementary school will be as fond as mine are. I hope when they run across an old friend they will get lost in “remember when.”
And I hope they are as inspired by their teachers to learn as I was by mine.