The Day Mrs. Dean Saved My Life: Guest Post by Annie Wolfe
Annie Wolfe from Six Ring Circus is my guest blogger today, and she has a great teacher memory. But before we get to that, a little hoo-ha about Annie. Annie went to college, locked eyes with a handsome man in her anatomy class, and they got to studying anatomy.
I mean, they got married.
Before she knew it, she was a stay-at-home mother to four energetic children. (She was very fertile.)
These days Annie writes about her children — Speedy, Princess, Dictator and Taz , and I must say, they make great material. Annie’s circus resides in the Heartland, where life should be simple but, with a family of six, life rarely is. I don’t know how she does it; I’m just glad she does. Read her post, check out her blog, and if you like Twitter, you can follow her @Annie6rc.
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The Day Mrs. Dean Saved My Life
I’m a school-loving nerd. The intense grin on my face in that photo says it all. (My mom made those sweet culottes and the handkerchief shirt.) I ran eagerly to my first day of kindergarten, nap mat in hand. There was never a day I didn’t want to go to school.
I will always remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Dean. Mean Mrs. Dean had a reputation with the other children for being tough. When I heard she was going to be my teacher I shuddered a little. She had the look of a mean old troll. I was sure I wouldn’t like her.
I was a studious child, very organized and task driven. I liked to get things done, but I worried I might not live up to grumpy old troll standards.
I quickly fell in love with Mrs. Dean’s no-nonsense attitude. She had eyes in the back of her head. While writing on the chalkboard, she could easily call by name and reprimand a troublemaker. Her head did not even swivel around slightly. To me, this was proof of her supernatural troll-like powers.
Troll or not, I felt so comfortable next to her stocky frame. I did not have to look very far up to find her crinkled face. She cackled when she laughed. I really loved her ability to run the classroom but I also grew to love her as a person. I specifically remember the day I fell in love with her heart.
We had a classroom reading chart with stickers to mark our progress. Once you had enough stickers, you got a free book. I was a crazy-obsessed reader and the idea of a book for a prize was incredible. I had a list of books to mark on the chart but I had to wait in line at Mrs. Dean’s desk to get my stickers. I was in the middle of the line and I had to pee so badly. I didn’t want to leave to go to the bathroom and return to stand at the very end. I was anxious.
I danced the clench-my-thighs-knee-wiggle dance. Finally, the call of nature could not be ignored. I dashed to the bathroom and hurried to pull down my pants. A warm rush was met with panic in my heart. I tried desperately to dry my pants with toilet paper. I stuffed ridiculous amounts of it into my underwear. It does no good to make a toilet paper diaper after you have peed yourself.
I remember whispering to the little girl in the mirror, “You’re going to have to be brave and go out there for help.” I was mortified. My entire class was lined up around Mrs. Dean. Everyone would know I had peed my pants like a baby.
I sucked in my breath and marched out to her desk. Mrs. Dean took my hand, told the class she would be right back, and walked me down the hall. She whisked me out so quickly, it saved me from much humiliation.
The feeling of my hand in hers was powerful. Her petite yet strong stature was reassuring. I know she comforted me with what she said, although the words are forgotten. Mrs. Dean didn’t make me feel stupid. She held my hand all the way to the office, where I called my parents.
I will always remember how she respected my feelings. She understood how potentially embarrassing the situation was for me. I wasn’t just a child to her, but a person to respect. I think sometimes adults marginalize issues that children find significant. A wise adult and excellent teacher can see things through the eyes of a child. Mrs. Dean was a very wise woman and most definitely an excellent teacher.
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33 thoughts on “The Day Mrs. Dean Saved My Life: Guest Post by Annie Wolfe”
I love this story. Love Mrs. Dean. Often the fierce ones are the best ones. Great story, Annie and it’s LOVELY to see you here, hanging with Renee! Two of my favourite bloggers in one spot!
Thank you! Mrs. Dean was one of the best.
And hanging out at Renee’s blog…that’s rockstar awesome! So thankful to her for letting me guest post.
Love this! I’d also like to second Liz and say that it’s lovely to see you here. 🙂
Ah, I love that so much, too. I often will stop myself, take a breath, and think of how my child is feeling if we are having a particularly tough moment. It always helps. I had so many great adults in my life to teach me that. Such a blessing.
One of Li’l D’s godmothers saw how I giggled at Li’l D’s frustration (or, more accurately, how adorable he looks with his frustrated face on) a few months back and said, “Aw! He’s going to think it doesn’t matter how he feels!” Now I say, “Aw, I’m sorry you’re feeling ___” and try to focus on the feeling instead of the adorableness of his grumpy face. I don’t want him to think his feelings are unimportant.
How many teachers wish their students would say the same about them! What a beautiful tribute! I’m so glad you are here.
I’ve had so many teachers save my life.
But then I’ve had so many teachers want to kill me, too.
Have a wonderful New Year, Annie!
Thanks for being here, today.
I’m glad you learned to pee in the potty. 😉
Huge thanks for having me!! I can’t say that enough.
Boy, thank goodness I learned to hit the toilet. I’ve got a few boys around the house still honing those skills. 😉
Have a wonderful New Year as well!
Okay, I know I have a reputation for being a softy but that made my eyes well up a little bit. What a wonderful story!
Aw, that’s the best compliment. I’m glad I touched your heart.
If you want a laugh, stop over at my Circus sometime. It’s never dull. 🙂
Annie: Steve @brchronicles is a total sweetheart! You should hear the songs he has written for his wife and daughter! Someone to follow for sure! 😉
I will definitely have to do that! 🙂
Great story Annie!
I loved this! Amazing, isn’t it, how some adults can leave an indelible mark on a child’s memory? This story reminds me to always strive to be the GOOD memory a child has of me as they get older….
It is amazing. That memory is so fresh in my mind. I can still feel the emotions. Some moments like that just stick forever.
It is a good reminder for me when it comes to raising my own children. I just pray I don’t screw up too much! 🙂
What an awesome teacher you had! Mrs. Dean could have easily left a scar instead.
I am so glad you shared your story today Annie!
Oh, that’s so true! I think about it often. The things she could have said…the humiliation I could have felt. She was such a blessing in that moment.
Great teacher memories are wonderful.
They are. I’m so thankful for the great teachers I’ve had. I had a few crappy ones, but I don’t think of them much. 🙂
Those times that great teachers model empathy often trump anything they could teach in terms of required academic content. Cool piece, Annie.
You are so right. I never thought of it that way. I barely remember how she taught me my “three R’s”, but I will never forget the way she modeled empathy and kindness.
It is hard for adults to remember how important seemingly little things are to a kid.
I peed my pants once in kindergarten too and it was mortifying…I think I sat in the teacher’s chair too so no one would know….it made sense to me at the time.
My daughter did the same thing at her kindergarten screening. She was too scared to ask where the bathroom was. I felt so bad for her!
Very sweet story. I remember almost having an accident in kindergarten and how scared I was.
It happens to a lot of kids, apparently. Even though it was tough, I learned something in the process.
Love this story, Annie! I wonder whatever happened to Mrs. Dean. She’d probably get a kick out of reading this memory of yours. It’s so fun seeing you over here.
Mrs. Dean has passed on. She was already close to retirement when she taught me. She taught my dad in fact! She was an amazing little lady.
Awww…I love the Mrs. Dean story!!! What a wonderful person she
was. She truly knew her place in the classroom and one of the roles
was definitely protector and defender!! Made me tear up!
She was quite the protector. And the fact that she was so petite made me very comfortable around her. She was tough, but tender.
What a sweet story and an adorable photo!
Thanks 🙂 Gotta love that drab olive washing machine and the golden linoleum! That was the 70s. So glad you stopped over to read my story!