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She Pulverized Me: My First Grade Teacher

My elementary school memories mostly consist of dense fog, but there’s nothing like a favorite teacher to penetrate the clouds and shine light on the past.

Enter Mrs. Brooks, my awesome yet fear-inducing first grade teacher. A tiny, sharply dressed woman of about 50, she frequently peered over her glasses to issue mean stare-downs and threats. Her powerhouse tendencies kept students and colleagues in line.   My mom credits her for arguing my case against the stubborn principal, who initially refused to skip me up to her first grade class.  Thanks to her efforts, I only spent two weeks in kindergarten.

She had an unrivaled passion for education and ran an unbelievably structured class. One day while reviewing a set of math problems for an upcoming test, her eyes narrowed as she zeroed in on her target of the moment: class troublemaker, Terrance. Oblivious to the impending doom, he feverishly chatted with his neighbor.

“Terrance if you don’t stop talking I will pulverize you!” she roared.

That got everyone’s undivided attention. Holding the gaze of a now-shivering Terrance, in one hand she wielded ”Brown Sugah” the long, masking tape-wrapped yard stick we would all come to fear. She waved it about, asking who knew the meaning of that awful sounding word. We gave her a collective blank stare, but we left class knowing the definition, the spelling and how to use it in a sentence.

I went home that day repeating both words over and over, allowing their significance to sink into my 5-year-old brain. Soon, I connected the dots: I’d better not procrastinate on my studying because if I got a bad grade, Mrs. Brooks would pulverize me. 1 +1 =2. Simple enough. Continue reading