Darlene Foster's Blog

A Special Teacher

Posted on: September 27, 2011

Miss Roll & Me There are teachers who teach the curriculum and hope that some of it sticks and then there are teachers who change your life. I was fortunate to have one of those extraordinary teachers in Grade three. I am not sure how Miss Roll ended up in Hilda, at our small prairie school, in the southeast corner of Alberta, for her first year of teaching. I consider it a stroke of luck that she was there just when I, a naïve farm girl, needed her.

Miss Roll introduced us to learning new things in a fun, interactive way. When we learned about Mexico in Social Studies, we were given a Mexican name, ate chilli con carne for the first time, wore serapes and sombreros and listened to Mexican music. We put on a puppet show as a fund raiser. I was “The Pirate Don Duke of Dowdai” and got to make my own puppet. With the money we raised from the puppet show, popcorn sales and other fundraisers, we took a bus trip to the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary. We were kids who never went much further than twenty miles from home. Going to Medicine Hat was a big deal, Calgary another world. For the Christmas concert we featured the “Christmas Carol” as a puppet show. What better way to learn Dickens at age nine? Miss Roll played the Grande Canyon Suite for us on her portable record player. She brought the world to us.

At the end of Grade three I received a book as a prize, “The Bobbsey Twins in Mexico” by Laura Lee Hope, signed by Miss Roll, “For marks of highest achievements in Grade three”. I still have it.

The Bobbsie Twins in Mexico

Not only an excellent teacher, she was a great role modal for young girls. She was always perfectly groomed and poised. She had a wonderful modern wardrobe and everything matched: shoes, purse, nails, lipstick etc. We couldn’t wait to see what she would wear to school the next day and would argue over which outfit was the best. I wanted to be just like her; smart, fun, adventurous and well put together.

I never forgot her over the years. She encouraged me to travel to the lands we learned about, to read and to write. She encouraged me to be the best I could be in spite of limited resources and to be a role modal for others. A couple of years ago I managed to track Shirley Roll Tucker down through the wonderful means of the internet and we have since communicated by email.

Shirley & her book

Yesterday another dream came true for me as I attended the reading of Shirley’s latest book, “The Amazing Foot Race of 1921” at Word on the Street in Vancouver and met with her after all these years. She is still beautiful, full of grace and eloquence. I now have another book in my possession signed by her and this one written by her.

How uplifting to be able to tell her the difference she made in my life.

Shirley Roll Tucker & me

Is there anyone in your life who has made a difference? Have you been able to let them know?

12 Responses to "A Special Teacher"

My Grade 3 year was memorable as well. My teacher was Mrs. Reed. Beautiful, blonde and pregnant. She appeared to be as glamorous as a movie star. For our Social Studies unit we glued little sachets of spices in our scribblers. Everytime you opened them you would get the strong aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. Everytime I encounter a strong spice smell I am taken back to Grade 3 and Mrs. Reed.

Mrs. Reed sounds wonderful as well. We are so impressionable at that age it is good we encountered such amazing women. I am sure many little girls wanted to be like their tecaher, Mrs. MacArthur, as well.

What a wonderful teacher! And you got together after all these years. That is an amazing turn of events.

It is indeed amazing. I still can’t believe it actually happened.

What a lovely post! My most memorable teacher was Mr Collins. He made every maths lesson hell on earth for just about everyone in his class and even the brightest kids struggled after a year with him. I’m glad to say the ‘one bad apple’ saying did not hold true as all the other teachers were excellent.

We tend to remember the really good ones and the really bad ones don’t we. Thanks for stopping by Barbara.

What a great story, Darlene. Being able to tell someone the difference they made in our lives is such a wonderful gift. How else would they know these things? I bet you telling your teacher this made a big difference in her life as well. 🙂

What a great post, Darlene! Thanks for sending me the link! I loved to read about your special teacher!!!

Thanks Beth Ann. She was very special and still is.

[…] My best year in school was grade three. That was the year I had Miss Roll as my teacher. She was wonderful and made a huge difference in my life. She made learning fun. I wrote about her before here:  https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/a-special-teacher/ […]

I’m honored to read this post almost eleven years after you wrote it, Darlene. You must have felt like a million bucks running into your former teacher. What better legacy can a teacher leave than to have inspired others?

As you know by now, many of my posts express gratitude for those special people in my life. My mom was the one who taught me this idea, and I’m trying to carry on in her footsteps.

Thanks so much for directing me this way. Here’s to the Miss Rolls of the world who have made the world a better place by being a part of it.

Thanks, Pete. Teachers don´t always get the credit they deserve in my opinion. I once called one of my daughter’s high school teachers to thank him for seeing her through a tough year. He said he only ever got calls from parents complaining and that my call made his day. I agree, here´s to the Miss Rolls of the world!

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