So many of the people who I remember and love best are teachers…I think my teachers always knew that I would one day succumb to the call as well…Maybe that’s why I received the extra attention from so many of them…they knew.
Mrs. Keach taught me second and third grade at Barnett Shoals Elementary School. She was beautiful with wild, flowing flames of hair. Our teachers taught us all subjects but I remember her passion for science. Her brother was a deep-sea driver in the navy famous from the many Natural Geographic specials that tracked his endeavors to discover the depths of the ocean…He was the first guy down in the bathosphere. All that was going down my third grade year. We watched the specials with what felt like ring side seats and special materials about the bathosphere sent from Commander Keach. It was a thrill. I remember so much about the unit: all the weird fish we tried to duplicate with paper mache’ and paints that adorned a net hung across the back wall of her classroom. I remember how fun learning was for her and consequently us. I remember our unit on the gas shortage…it was 1973 and OPEC pressed hard upon us. Lines at the pump were long…sometimes there was no gas and when there was we paid an obscene $1.00 a gallon. Mrs.Keach had the very advanced kids…but she she pushed us far beyond our more difficult vocabulary words and algebraic math problems. She made us think, asked us questions that weighed heavily on us and stretched our hearts as well as our minds…I remember first feeling the “stress” of problems, not my problems, but the world’s, in her class at a white formica countertop staring out a window before me. Thinking of those problems and wondering, What is mine to take up?
In my seat next to that counter, I watched children play hopscotch out of the window behind me. I watched a manned helium balloon and a tornado fly through the window before me. The class was like that, we were allowed to enjoy life and learning freely, but we were pointed toward more than our own enjoyment…In that class we were prepared to journey to those places once unapproachable, to recognize those things that brought destruction, and to ask ourselves What in this is mine to do?