My second year at Patterson, I moved from second to third grade and several of my students stayed with me. I absolutely loved teaching third grade! I had the best students and such incredible family support. I worked with wonderful people. At some point, I want to mention them, but I am afraid I may forget a few names and I wouldn't want to leave anyone out.
My instructional assistant at Patterson was Pat Ofenloch. We hit it off immediately and I believe that Pat was instrumental in me becoming a good teacher. She was an integral part of my classroom community and was always there for me. She died a few years ago and I wrote about her when that happened. She was with me until she retired (from Patterson, to Houston, to Gilbert El).
That year I decided that I would like to take my students on an overnight field trip to Bisbee and Tombstone. I wanted them to learn the history of early Arizona as well as the science of rocks and minerals. Leona was very supportive of this, as were the parents. An elementary teacher had not asked to go on an overnight field trip before, so I had to go before the Governing Board and ask permission. I was asked many questions about why I wanted to do this and I answered each question. The Board approved it and there began 10 years of an incredible trip with my classes.
The first year's trip was the end of April. I will never forget that first trip (or any for that matter). We spent the first day in Tombstone. The kids saw the Historama, toured the OK Corral and the Courthouse. We then drove to Bisbee and spent the night at the Bisbee High School Gym. Pat O. was with me on every trip and was such a great help.
I had a student for two years by the name of Wendy Aaby. Wendy's mom told me I could write about her when I contacted her a few days ago. Wendy was paralyzed from the waist down and her mom trusted me enough to allow her to go on that field trip. Our school nurse, Mary Sisung, went with us to help out with Wendy (her mom let her go on her own). I also had the privilege of having a student by the name of Charissa Chafey who was absolutely amazing with Wendy. She was truly her protector and showed incredible empathy. At the time, there wasn't much research out there about building classroom community. I did it without even realizing it because I had amazing students and families. Wendy passed away a few years ago. I wasn't able to get to her funeral as I was here in Douglas. Her mom and I keep in touch. I feel that having Wendy for a student was a huge blessing and I am grateful to her mom for the trust that she put in me!
I remember that it snowed the first day and the kids were so excited to see the snow. The trip went very well and the kids and adults had a wonderful time and learned a lot. It was probably one of the best things I ever did as an educator and it evolved into something that lasts even today. I will write more about that in later posts. I loved being able to share my roots with my students and their families!