Thursday, November 3, 2016

Think ... Write ... Thursday!

See Bonny read. Read, Bonny, read.

My favorite teacher?  Today's Think Write Thursday poses an easily answered question for me, and one that also serves well as my Gratitude Week - Day 4 post. I owe Mrs. Neusch oodles of gratitude, and I think of her often with deep appreciation.

I didn't go to kindergarten, so first grade marked my first school experience. I was very nervous, but my mother had promised that I would learn to read, so I climbed on the bus with apprehension, my new bookbag, sharpened pencils, and an apple for the teacher (really!).

Mrs. Neusch greeted all twelve of her students with a kind smile and thanks for the half dozen apples on her desk. We sat at our assigned desks while she handed out paper and pencils that looked like size 15 knitting needles. We painstakingly made pages of upper and lowercase As.

Lunch and recess interrupted the boredom, and I returned to the classroom with a sense of excitement. When Mrs. Neusch handed out our Dick and Jane readers (really!) I could barely sit still. But then she told us that were going to make book covers for them with paper grocery bags and I began to get concerned. Books covered and placed carefully in our desks, it was time for an arts and crafts project and several of my classmates discovered how tasty paste could be.

The afternoon dragged on until we lined up to go home and I burst into tears. Mrs. Neusch calmly asked why and I stammered that my mother said I would learn to read, but after one whole day of school I still didn't know how. She hugged me and said that we would all learn together and I would be reading very soon.

And she was right. 

I don't remember how far into the school year it was before it actually happened, but soon
 I was reading action-packed books about Dick, Jane, Tim the bear, Sally, and Spot all by myself.

Thankfully we did move beyond simplistic Dick and Jane once the whole class had learned to read (or had at least memorized 100 words by sight) and we then started the process of "sounding it out" with phonics. It was probably slow, laborious and mind-numbing for poor Mrs. Neusch, but I remember her infinite patience. My favorite teacher is the caring one who taught me to read (and that eating paste wasn't a good idea).

Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts hereand sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.


  1. What a gift Mrs. Neusch gave you! I'm so impressed with how much you remember about first grade... I couldn't even tell you my teacher's name!

  2. You are right! Think about how tedious it must have been for her. And how much has changed! Thank goodness for Mrs. Neusch and that paste advice! ;-)

  3. What a fantastic post - and I too learned to read with Dick and Jane! I never "got" phonics. Must be a brain defect because my middle daughter had the same issues. However, thank goodness for Mrs. Neusch! Is there a more noble job than teaching children? I think not and sadly today teachers seem to have a bad rap. I say bravo to them because those that teach open the doors and windows of a childs mind, and they take down the walls as well! Showing a child the possibilities that exist in the world, even if you can only visit them through the wonder of a book! I think this was the best topic yet! Thanks for sharing Bonny!

  4. Do they still teach phonics? Why do I think probably not ...

    Isn't it funny to think there was a time when you actually *didn't* know how to read??

  5. my daughter had the same exact experience. She went to the first day of kindergarten and expected to learn how to read and was deeply disappointed. I started to teach her that same day :)

  6. Thank you for sharing this experience. I too learned with Dick and Jane. You have a much better memory of first grade than I do.

  7. Yay, Dick & Jane!! I learned to read with them, too. :)

  8. I had a similar experience of being upset about not learning to read on the 1st day of kindergarten, even though I could read a few words, I wanted to read a whole book! We had Alice & Jerry readers and I just loved those stories!

  9. As a former reading teacher . . . it is MAGICAL when kids put it together and begin to read. (Except my own son. He didn't feel the magic. Oh, well.) I didn't go to kindergarten, either -- and we all learned to read together right there in first grade. So different from how things work in elementary schools now. . .

  10. What a fabulous story of your first year of school. I'm so glad you had a kind hearted teacher who taught you to love reading.

  11. Our version of kindergarden was more like pre-school. My first grade teacher was Mrs. Reed, and reading was one of my absolute favorite things. What a cute story!


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