by Cheryl Ward, Class Eight Teacher
The first thing that strikes me as I walk into Class Four is the beautiful round spider-web windows on the west wall. They look like Hobbit windows, complete with plants and flowers nestled in the spherical recesses. A world map hangs slightly askew on the wall, due to an indentation on the top of the map, which causes it to list to the left (we fixed it with a paper clip). A schedule is written on a miniature whiteboard; the black script is flowing and lovely – it reminds me of Anne Shirley’s handwriting from her school-teaching days.
The children are actively engaged in a pair activity. Each has a list of spelling words, in addition to personal words which have been added as needed. They test each other in whispering voices, their faces earnest to the task, marking words off as the spellers progress. A sweet young girl looks up and accidentally meets my eyes, smiling broadly. It is a happy face. I’m glad to see it in the midst of all of this hard work, but then, they all look pleasant-faced. They seem to enjoy the challenge of spelling to each other.
Miss Redfield circulates slowly, bending down to have private conversations with individual students—asking a question here, offering praise there. She is relatively tall with short curly brown hair. She speaks in a calm, firm voice. But there is a twinkle in her eyes when she gently points out a misspelling in a word written on a mini-board. The student glances down and comprehension hits. He looks back up into her eyes, grins, then fixes it without a word. I like this silent exchange. There is no shame in it; there is only camaraderie and a desire to do well.
My smiling-girl suddenly gets out of her seat and approaches me. She points to the bouquet of bright yellow flowers prominently displayed on the table. “See? Those are Miss Redfield’s flowers – they’re golden because it’s her golden birthday.” I tell her that they are beautiful. “Yes,” she agrees. I say, “Aren’t you glad that Miss Redfield has such beautiful flowers? She deserves them, doesn’t she?” My smiling-girl’s mouth widens as she emphatically nods and says, “Yes! She does!”