Memories of School Lydia Stocks

If you were to have asked first grade me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said "a teacher!" Even though many other career aspirations have popped into my head since then, a few things have stayed the same: I want to influence the lives of young people. I once said that the role of teachers was to teach their students to be "good and smart." I now say it is teaching them to be "respectful and productive." What I might not have known then, I know now: teachers inspire curiosity and learning. Yes, I want to teach students basic facts to help them succeed life, but I want to teach them more than that. Like to ask "why?" and to answer that question through their own intellectual investigation. Even more than that, I want to teach students values. Because as William S. Burroughs describes it: "The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values."

In my elementary school years, I had some incredible teachers. The staff and faculty at my school were some of the best around. My music teacher, Mrs. Bailey, introduced me to my love of music. My art teacher, Mrs. Tolston, introduced my to my love of crafts. My librarian, Mrs. Billups, introduced me to my love of books. My TAG teachers, Mrs. Morris and Mrs. Harper, introduced me to my love of being challenged. These ladies all had significant impacts on my early school years. They are ladies whose names I can easily remember, even over a decade later. They helped to build the foundation for my learning.

One of my favorite teachers from elementary school was my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Wheless. My brother and I both had her and would playfully fight over whose class she liked the most. It was mine. When I was in Mrs. Wheless's class, she taught me how to write and inspired me to become an author. We wrote so many stories in her class, but I remember one specifically. I called it "Sharing Music." Mrs. Wheless sent it to the newspaper, it was published, and a copy hangs in my dad's office to this day. I can still remember what I wrote about. But I think the real reason why this story meant so much to me was because it was clear evidence that my teacher, a lady who I looked up to and loved very much, believed in me and had confidence in my abilities. With this evident to me, I knew that I could become an author, or anything that I wanted. Now, I am inspired by Mrs. Wheless, not necessarily to be an author (although that is still a dream of mine), but to inspire others by believing in them and their abilities.

Without a doubt the coolest week I had at school, K-12, was one week of my fifth grade year when Starbase came. Starbase was an intense, STEM focused, week-long learning experience. The Starbase team came to our school and taught us many science lessons via hands on experiments. These experiments and lessons were incredibly fun. As students, we were given dog-tags that we wore all week long, we got to build a rocket that we launched on the final day, and we got a surprise visit at the end of the week. I will never forget standing on our baseball field and waiting as the Black Hawk helicopter landed right in front of our student body. As fifth graders we were even allowed to walk through it. Starbase was an awesome week. I remember having so much fun and learning a ton. And I think we all wanted to be either an astronaut or scientist at the end. The pictures above of my dog-tags and rocket were taken in the year 2017. That is around 9 years after I was able to experience Starbase, wear those tags, and launch that rocket. To me, that shows effective teaching. That after all these years I am still unwilling to rid myself of the memories of the coolest learning experience of my early education. As a teacher, I want to give my students the same excitement every single day.

All the artwork used are originals by a younger, more creative, me.

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