I was educated in Weber School District schools. Municipal Elementary School, Roy Junior High School (the Redskins not the Razorbacks) and Roy High School (Home of the Royals!). I suppose my experiences in school were similar to most others. I have wonderful memories of my school days including painting with water colors, recess, science fair projects, wood shop, cooking classes, poetry writing, playing sports, great friends and many influential teachers. But, like most people, I have retained a couple of not-so-wonderful memories. I never really learned how to write in cursive. That was taught in the 3rd grade and I wasn’t in school much. My teacher told my parents that I was mischievous. I’m not sure what that word meant but I knew it wasn’t good. I don’t remember acting up in class but I do remember being sent to the principal’s office often. He would call my mother and I would walk home. I’m not sure it was called suspension back then. It was just, “you need to go home.” “Honest mom, I didn’t do anything.” “Well,” she would reply, “the principal said you were being mischievous in class again.” There it was. That word again. She would then give me a prepared list of chores around the house to accomplish. Soon, my trips to the principal’s office became so frequent that I would just walk by his office and wave to him. He’d wave back and I’d head out the front door and walk home only to be greeted by a stern look, a shaking head and a new list of chores. Not realizing it, I was apparently on a path to what they called juvenile delinquency.
Somehow, I was allowed to attend 4th grade. My teacher was Mrs. Green. Obviously, she didn’t get the memo about my past “mischievousness” because she took me under her wing and showed a special interest in me. She taught the class how to write creative stories. It was fun! She told me I was a great writer and poet. “I am?” “In fact,” she said, “I’m going to have you read your stories in front of the whole class because they are so good.” “Wow! Xanadu!” In that year that went by too quickly, I gained a bundle of self-worth and confidence. I discovered I could be really smart if I tried. Perhaps, maybe, by chance, I really wasn’t mischievous.
The rest of my public education experience was enjoyable, rigorous, gratifying and demanding. My teachers were absolutely fantastic. They taught me how to study and how to enjoy learning. They taught me to have a deep desire to be a life-long learner. I will always have the utmost respect and appreciation for what my teachers did for me in helping me become the person I am today.
We are extremely fortunate to have literally thousands of caring, competent teachers just like Mrs. Green in Weber School District. Leonard Pellicer wrote, “Our teachers could have chosen to be medical supply sales-people, astronauts, country singers or any other noble profession. Instead, they chose the teaching profession where they can shape lives in ways so special and unique that great teachers are irreplaceable. They acknowledge dignity in children. I believe that teachers, more than any other professionals touch lives in significant and lasting ways.” Henry Adams stated, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence ends.
Nearly five decades later, I stay in close contact with Mrs. Green. Our paths have brought us back together. We are actually neighbors. She is a little bit older and slower now but her mind is still as sharp as ever. She has the same smile, the same caring attitude and the exact same laugh. She walks several miles every day with a friend, not necessarily to stay in shape but to engage in good conversation and enjoy the beauties of earth. Several nights ago, I visited with her and her good husband. We reminisced about the “good old days” and as I have done at least a hundred times before, I told her how much I loved and appreciated her as my teacher so many years ago and what a great influence she has had on my life. I thanked her for giving me confidence in myself. I have since realized that I’m really not a very good writer or poet but she instilled in me the joy of writing. That night, I asked her, “So, what do you remember about me?” She smiled, laughed and said, “You were so mischievous!”
Lex L. Puffer