My third grade teacher’s name was Mrs. Thebes. She was significant for me initially because she was the first teacher I had who was not a nun. In the end she proved more significant for other reasons.
I remember that she wore only blue dresses. She must have had dozens of them; it was her favorite color. Mrs. Thebes had very definite ideas about how to teach third graders but two things particularly impacted me.
First of all, she probably has something to do with the good condition of my teeth because of a story she told about her daughter. She said as a little girl her daughter brushed her teeth at least five minutes every day, even if it meant being late. This paid off as an adult with white teeth and a great smile. For some reason this story really struck me and influenced my own brushing from that day forward.
The other thing is that she did not believe in lowering her vocabulary to match that of a third grade level. She used “big” words all the time – words that were way beyond us. But she always stopped, as if she knew exactly which ones they were, and said; “Who knows what that means?” Then someone would be sent to the dictionary sitting close by on the window sill. No wonder by the time I got to seventh grade I was reading at the senior high level.
I never told Mrs. Thebes what she meant to me. I never saw her again after third grade because we moved, and I went to a new school. I still think of her though, especially when I wonder what impact I might be having on others that I don’t know about.
Have you ever thought about who’s watching you?