I think looking back that one of the most fascinating features I remember about Mrs. Adkins was how calm and collective she handled herself. I remember when you got out of line, she had this special way of putting you back into place but with love and a sense of caring about you. Let me share with you one of those special moments sitting in her class that will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life. This shows how humbling this woman was to us.
There were about six of us, all seventh-graders, sitting around in a circle in English class reading our books. Mrs. Adkins was in our group that day and I remember as each of us read our part she'd closely listen to us to make sure we did our part. "Tommy" was sitting with us and he had a habit of leaning his chair back while he read. Sure enough there he was that day, leaning back on his chair with a great big grin on his face. Right away I knew something was up. He began to chuckle a little bit now and then I noticed he was trying to keep a straight face.
I glanced over at Mrs. Adkins who by this time had quickly began to pay closer attention to him. Tommy had her full and undivided attention as he continued smiling with a few occasional small giggles here and there. Mrs. Adkins upon seeing Tommy's big grin began to grow one of her own. Her curiosity had gotten the best of her and she just had to ask.
"Tommy, what is so funny", she asked him. "Why are you laughing?"
"Nothing Mrs. Akins!" he replied.
"Would you like to share with all of us as to why are you laughing" she asked.We all laughed a little as he explained to her that he simply had the giggles, we all knew Tommy and we all knew there was more to it than a mere case of the giggles.
This continued for a little while longer and then suddenly Tommy burst out laughing real hard. Mrs. Adkins instantly asked him to pass his book over to her. He reluctantly handed the book to and all eyes were on her. We were all anxious and wondered what it was that made him a happy camper that day. We quickly noticed there was a magazine stuck in the middle of his book. It was one of those old Mad Magazines.
Mrs. Adkins had a serious look at first and then we began to see a little smile come on her face. She began to shake with small giggles and then she burst out laughing. You know how it is when another person is laughing real hard and you don't even know why but you join in on the laughter. The whole room began to laugh and we didn't even know why. When she finally gained her composure she explained to us what was so funny.
You remember Kentucky Fried Chicken's Colonel Sanders? Well, in that Mad Magazine sitting in the middle of Tommy's English book was a cartoon of some chickens chasing Colonel Sanders with axes ready to chop him up. That simple little cartoon brought the room to tears that day. We all learned that day what a down-to-earth, true-to-life person Mrs. Adkins really was. She didn't point a point a finger at him, write him up and ask him to go to the office. She cared about him as she cared about us all.
That moment happened over 35 years ago and I can still remember it like it was yesterday. That's the message I'd like to with will all the teachers of today. How you treat, help or not help the children of today will stay with them forever. If I were a teacher, I'd like children to remember me as someone that cared for them, someone that when I got out of line, he or she would put me back in my place but do it with an arm around me.
Again to Mrs. Adkins, "Thank you for being there for us!"
Copyright © 2007 Johhny Silvas