Monday, September 12, 2011

Saunters


I have been blessed with many fantastic teachers throughout my life. However, one of those teachers will always be the person that I consider to be the most life-changing and memorable. Her name is Mrs. Schofield. She was my 4th grade teacher.

It would take a tremendous amount of time to write about all of the things she taught me. She was probably the teacher that taught us to be the most well-rounded we possibly could. She taught us how to write, to be creative, to imagine, to appreciate the world and especially to benefit from nature.

I remember in class we put on a huge play that she helped write called "Hubbub on the bookshelf". To this day it is because of her that I remember things like lines from Shakespeare or historical events or the symbolic significance of stories.


She also took us on Thursday Saunter Journeys. Our school had a forest behind it and was close to several other nature-filled areas. Almost every Thursday we would take some time to walk, as a class, back into the forests or fields. We would take our little journals and find our own personal spot to do the assignment (write a poem about what you see, write down all of the different plants you can find, make observations about how nature works...). When we were finished, we just sat and thought and appreciated the world.

By going out in nature we really learned much more then we could sitting in a class. At least, I learned much more than I ever thought I would. Looking back on that journal (yes, I still have my "saunter journal") I notice more and more how those little saunters down a dirt and overgrown path, lead me down the paths in my life. It helped me on my way through my own personal "journey".

By appreciating nature, we learned to appreciate the world. By appreciating the world, we learned to appreciate more ourselves and our place in this world.

I recently tried to find some contact information for her so I could send her a thank you, and in the process I found her class page. On the page was this:

Class Motto:
Go Forth and Conquer Thyself
I'm not sure if we ever had that motto while I was her student, but she certainly helped me on my way to achieving just that.

Looking back to 10 years ago, on September 11 in 2001, I can now realize that those saunters actually helped our class more fully understand and overcome the tragedies of that day. I remember walking into my 4th grade classroom and my teacher had the radio on. I learned through the static of the radio, the devastation happening on the other side of the nation. I think all that I learned in that year, through saunters and through creative writing and my teacher's example, taught me how to deal with and understand what was truly going on.

Even as years have passed, I continue to learn from my 4th grade teacher. As I've grown older, I've realized more and more what she sacrificed. When she was younger, she was a beautiful singer. A disease took her voice from her. She always wanted children of her own. She was never able to have any. She had a loving husband. He is no longer here. She went through so much in her life, yet was able to overcome all that she struggled with, to be the most amazing teacher I've ever had. I am so incredibly thankful for all that she taught me, not just academically, but all of the wonderful life lessons along the way as well.