How a Teacher Saved My Educational Life

Jim Parton
4 min readJul 26, 2022
Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

I love books. Probably as much as anyone. My home library looks like the picture I chose for this piece. I’ve read MOST of the books I have, but I have a never-ending stack of books all clamoring for my attention, waiting in the queue. I am always behind. My reading life didn’t start out like that at all. Thanks to a very wise second-grade teacher, my entire educational success came about by one simple sentence.

As a first grader, I struggled. My itinerant family moved five times during my first-grade year. Those are stories for another day. However, by second grade I was so shaken up and scared at school that I was far behind my classmates, and certainly had no skills in the basics of reading. My usual day was to cry when separated from my older two sisters as we went to our classrooms, then wet my pants, only to have my mother come pick me up and take me home. I am sure I was so frightened by the separation from my sisters because I thought my family would move again while I was at school, and be gone when I came home. Whooping Cough caused me to miss weeks of school that first year as well. By the middle of my second year of school, my frustration and daily tears must have been a huge burden to my dear teacher, Mrs. Vick. We had settled down a bit by then, and I was in the same school each day.

At the beginning of the school term after that Christmas break, Mrs. Vick came by my desk and said, “Jimmy, you are such a good reader that I am going to send you to the fifth-grade class with Mr. Franklin’s students to read with the 5th graders tomorrow.” Wait. What? Did I hear that right? I know my back must have straightened up a bit. My sniffles lessened. My interest was piqued. If Mrs. Vick thought I was a good reader then I must be. After all, I had not had many positive statements said to me in school thus far. Tomorrow, I was going up to the fifth-grade classroom to read!

Of course, what she and Mr. Franklin had decided to do was pair his poor fifth-grade readers with her poor second-grade readers. What the fifth-grade readers had been told was “You are such a good reader I want you to help tutor the second-grade students.” Thus every day for an hour I made the trek with a few others who had been “specially selected” to go “up” to the fifth-grade room to read! They very importantly tutored us, because…

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Jim Parton

Retired Teacher and Funeral Celebrant. The gay and married dad of three grown children. I have always been fascinated by the human condition. Come read with me.