Eons ago, in the spring of 1983, I read an ad placed in the Peterborough Examiner by the Peterborough Christian School Society. The group was seeking applications for one “possible” opening.

It didn’t sound particularly hopeful, but it could not hurt to apply.

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I prepared a glowing résumé of my skills, abilities, experience and education. If I remember correctly, it was typewritten but the cover letter was handwritten. That shows how old I am. None of this portfolio stuff.  It may have involved a certain amount of embellishment, but nothing as calculated and phony as I see these days.

Resume Picture

I did not have to worry about the committee searching for more  information through email accounts, Facebook, linkedIN, or any other forms of social media

I put my application in snail mail and off it went. In a very short time, I received a request for an interview. It took place in the “green room” and, as luck would have it, I was wearing a green dress. Imagine that!

I answered the questions to the best of my ability, but I stammered and stuttered when I tried to find God in mathematics and explaining my worldview. I had never heard of these concepts or attended catechism. In retrospect, I realize these concepts had not been part of my humble religious upbringing.

In no more than two weeks, I received “the call” offering me a grade 3-4 position, my favourite grades of all. I readily accepted and a board member delivered my contract to the door. I couldn’t wait for September to come.

The Grade four curriculum included several enjoyable units. I chose “Bones and Muscles” as the first science unit each year because it was fun and got children out of their desks. Students traced the outline of each other’s body, cut it out, and then drew and coloured all 206 bones.  (If we needed help to remember the number of bones, it helped to know that the number was the same as Alex W. address.) Happy chatter filled the room as each child completed the project.

Kids SkullLocal orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Beamer, visited our class to tell us more about bones. He brought his “tool box” filled with knee and hip joints. He had a second briefcase containing his intriguing instruments.

The students sat mesmerized as Dr. Beamer explained that he used drills, saws, screws, scissors, rulers, pencils, wire cutters, pliers, clamps, chisels, ratchets, mallets, file, rasps and screwdrivers in operating rooms. He told the students that an orthopedist was just a carpenter who worked on bones and joints.

If inquiring minds want to know more, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8a_lBt5qSmM

In late spring, we traipsed through the woods with Ruth V. leading the way to the Donwood pond for our annual Pond Study Unit. I loved to step back and marvel as students diligently completed the required exercises. They looked like mini-scientists with their clipboards.

Children Wading in Pond

Without exception, someone “accidentally” fell into the pond and had to be rescued.  On the walk back to school Ruth always invited us to stop at her house for popsicles. Thank you, Ruth. I’m sure the students remember your kindness.

At some point in the year, I was required to teach my class about book reports. I categorically refused to assign those mind-numbing written exercises. Instead, we brainstormed more interesting ways to present our findings to the class.  One method proved to be a winner for every student in the class. I knew we had struck gold when students asked, “Can we do it again?”

Have you visited Anne of Green Gables or Santa’s Village where you can poke your head in a hole to look like one of the characters?  That is what we agreed to  try.

One dedicated mother drove around to Peterborough’s appliance stores and collected refrigerator boxes for us.  Once you completed your character, you poked your head through the hole and told us all about your book and we had an opportunity to ask questions.

I do remember that Jordan L., The enormous egg
currently a councillor for the
Township of Cavan Monaghan, (Did I mention how proud I am?) was especially fond of the “Mandie Series.” The series starts around the year 1900, when Mandie is 11 years old. Naturally, she made a Mandie cutout and recounted a heart-wrenching story that almost made us cry.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Sarah G. educated us about “The Enormous Egg”, a timeless tale written by Oliver Butterworth in 1956. (Ahem — before I was born.)

Happy tears are brimming as I proudly report that every student succeeded!

Then there were the pets.  We had an impressive selection over the years. We took in the DeBlocks’ rabbit, Frisky. His name could be considered an oxymoron.

We adopted the Terpstras’ budgie bird while Joan attended nursing school in Toronto. That was a whole story in itself. The budgie loved to sing when the morning sun came in the classroom. He  or she serenaded us in a voice louder than mine. I had to banish the budgie to a dark corner of the cloakroom until the sun moved away from our classroom.

Gerbil teapot
We had a gerbil named Junior who was not in his cage one morning. We concluded he had escaped and crawled away somewhere to die. Months later, we found him, alive and kicking, in a cupboard in “the green room.”  While in seclusion, Junior had constructed a block of fifty-story gerbil condos using only shredded paper.

The final pet was a small green lizard.  That meant regular trips to the pet store to buy crickets.  How did I get talked into a lizard?  The class was earning points which could be traded for a reward of the class’s choice.  Majority ruled and a lizard (anole) it was. I should have known it was time for me to go when I agreed to a lizard.

Green Lizard

I wax nostalgic when Christmas rolls around. Most of the ornaments on my Christmas tree are gifts from former students.  I always remember Sarah, Jonathan & Alicia R. as I hang the wooden figurines made by Grandpa R. I get choked up when I pull out the cross-stitched ornament from the Ivy children that reads “All Hearts Come Home for Christmas.”

Do you ever wonder what becomes of the gifts teachers receive? I am still carrying some of them around on my hips — just joking! I have a great story about one gift — a delicate crystal bell which I received from Catherine & Leslie B. It remained on display in my china cabinet for a long time, but the bell was destined for a higher calling.

After I left teaching, we moved to Marmora, ON where Glenn worked as a funeraGlass Bell-WBl director at McConnell Funeral Home.  Are you trying to make the connection between a small bell and a funeral home? Wonder no more.  When the local priest, Father John Brennan, conducted parish prayers at the funeral home, he needed a way to announce the beginning of the rosary. Guess what he used?  Catherine & Leslie’s little crystal bell! Ding! Ding! I hope that made you snot or snort.

More than twenty years have passed since I taught at Rhema. All these years later, I find myself reading the Kiwanis Music Festival results, the soccer scores, high school, college and university graduations; engagement, wedding and birth announcements, in search of familiar surnames. I want to see what “the children of the children” I taught are doing.

Now that Facebook exists, I watch proudly as former students raise their families, travel the world and serve the community.

My teaching days may be in the distant past, but my time spent at Rhema affects my life at least once every day. A short time ago, I spotted Sarah R. hanging out in San Francisco.

Fancy that!

To the Walhouts, Hoftyzers, Ridleys, Wolfs, Posthumus’, Brethours, Vinks, Soltermans, Breukelaars, Kloostermans, Faulds, DeBlocks, Nicholsons, VanZandwyks, Kampstras, VanEngens, Dalings, Andersons, Armstrongs, Hendriks’, Barks, Weirdsmas, Bangmas, Boonstras, Clarks, Iveys, Elgettis, Hursts, Katers, and many, many more — thanks for the memories!

To purchase a copy of my book “LIFE MATTERS: 20 Mostly True Stories to Put a Smile on Your Face,”bookmarks, note cards and postcards, please visit my store: www.meldajeanclark.com/meldas-store
To inquire about or to book a storytelling event, please send an email to info@meldajeanclark.com or call 705.928.2992.
To inquire about or to book a Mental Health Presentation in which I share my life journey with depression, child sexual abuse and eating disorders, please send an email to info@meldajeanclark.com or call 705.928.2992.

Copyright 2016 by Melda Roache Clark. All Rights Reserved. The use of any part of this document reproduced, or transmitted in any other form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, scanning, recording or otherwise, or stored in any retrieval system, without prior consent of Melda Roache Clark or her heirs, is an infringement of the copyright law.