A childhood favorite…
I think everyone has an all-time favorite teacher…the one who inspires you…who makes you feel special…who sees something in you that pushes you to be your best. For me, this was Mrs. Ferguson. I had Mrs. Ferguson in fourth grade. When the year was up, she was moved to teach fifth..and I happily moved right along with her.
I have vivid memories of the two years we spent together. I can still see her in my mind sitting on her high stool in the front of the class reading stories to us…my favorite part of each day. In fact, looking back, I think she was the one who started my true love for books that still lives with me today. And I can picture her at the chalk board teaching us how to write in cursive and do long division. Simply stated, I loved her.
Years went by. I graduated high school. Then college. I met and married my husband. Got my MBA. Had 2 children. But I never forgot about Mrs. Ferguson. I always wished that I had gone back to tell her thank you–to let her see how I turned out and to let her know that she made a real difference in my life.
Well, today I got that chance.
And then my cell phone rang…
As part of my 30 Day Christmas challenge, I wanted to try and track her down, but quickly hit a brick wall. When I called the school, I found out that she retired over a decade ago (yes, now I officially feel old) and they didn’t have a record of her current address. I explained to the person on the phone why I was looking for her and she wanted to help. She promised to check around with some of the other teachers, but warned that it could take her some time…and she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to find anything at all.
5 days later…it was Sunday afternoon and I just laid my son down for a nap. And then my cell phone rang–I almost didn’t answer. I didn’t recognize the number and I really needed to get some things done while my little ball of energy was asleep. But for some reason, I did answer…and I’m so glad that I did.
“Hello, Kelly…it’s your 4th and 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Ferguson.” I can’t tell you how cool it was for me to hear that voice again. Time instantly rewinded 24 years. Suddenly I was right back in class with Mrs. Ferguson.
I loved being able to tell her about my life, my career and my family…and to get to hear about her. After teaching for 40 years, she retired but still spends a lot of her time with kids…only difference is now they’re her grandchildren. She and her husband still live in the area, but travel to Florida quite a bit.
It’s amazing the power that two simple words can have. “Thank you.” It felt incredible to be able to let her know how I felt about her…that she was my all-time favorite teacher…and that I appreciated the love, patience and dedication that she showed me. “Wow–that means so much! What a terrific surprise for me!” After all the times that she made me feel special, it awesome to be able to return the favor to her.
From Mrs. Ferguson, to 10 year old Kelly….
After we got off the phone, I suddenly remembered something. I went down to my basement and started searching through piles of storage bins. 15 minutes later, I had it in my hand.
At one point in 5th grade, Mrs. Ferguson started a “Student of the Week” program with our class. Each week a student would be highlighted–they’d bring in pictures of their family and tell us about their hobbies so we could get to know them more. During the week, everyone in class would write them a letter (a great opportunity to practice our cursive writing skills!) and say what we liked about them. At the end of the week, we got a book filled with all the letters. For whatever reason, I kept my book.
I flipped through the pages and on the very last one, I found it. It was a letter that Mrs. Ferguson wrote me. “I know you will be very successful if you continue to be such a hard worker.”
I do consider myself a hard worker, always striving to do my best. And I have been very successful. No doubt thanks to Mrs. Ferguson.