How many times did I wish that I could fully savor the beauty of autumn, but I had to hop into the car to go to teach? How grateful am I that I could retire while healthy and happy!
October is such a beautiful month here in Cramer Hill. Von Neida Park, the park just down the block from me, blazes with color. The leaves do their best to make the park a place of beauty. The autumn sky is blue, blue, blue with white clouds–what could be prettier?
Today I drove by the park and the students from the local Catholic school were crossing River Avenue to go to the playground. My heart turned over because they looked cute and sweet in their uniforms as they walked quietly and calmly in line. I realized that perhaps I missed seeing kids every day, but not enough to regret retiring.
Being a teacher was sort of being a rock star. I’d beep my car locked and while I crossed Mount Vernon Street to go into the school building, some of my third-grade ESL students would stand at the fence and scream, “Mrs. Ferra!” They’d wave furiously at me to make sure I saw them. I’d wave back and feel loved.
When I got into the lobby, parents, students and staff would greet me. Former students, now in seventh and eighth grades, would hug me. The girls. The boys would look cool, but give me a little side grin that said hey, I always remember when I was in your class. That was nice, very nice.
Now I must tell the truth. It wasn’t rock star all day, but it was for those first few minutes.
When I saw the kids walking to the park today, those memories flooded back. I smiled in my Toyota Camry. I watched how well they walked to the park and then! The first few boys got to the playground and ran like heck. The teacher shouted and put her hand up and they sheepishly got back in line.
Those students brought back my teaching life which ended at the end of June of this year. I laughed in pleasure because many memories were happy. Kids are great. They were the best part of the job, but not the only part of the job of a teacher in Camden.
I also laughed because I was about to enjoy this fine autumn day all for myself as I had longed for so many times.
Marguerite Ferra, Cramer Hill