I attended 8 elementary schools. Eight.
I began my public education at Summerdale. I have two significant memories of that school. First is being carted around the playground in a wagon. I started school with a cast on my leg. I caught my foot in the spokes of a bicycle. (I still have the scar.) My second memory of Summerdale is being dropped off one winter morning by my mom as she headed to work or school or wherever moms go when they drop you off at kindergarten, only to realize that school was cancelled because of the weather! Now this preeeeee-dates (that’s how long ago it was) cell phones and all those other kinds of modern convenient contact methods. The janitor let me in and let me play with the toys ALL BY MYSELF! It was the bestest day of kindergarten, I kid you not. I don’t know how long it took for my mom to figure out what happened, but she did come get me as soon as she could. As a parent I think, WHAT THE HELL, WOMAN? But as a five year old, I was like, Thanks Mom!
I attended Haskell for first and second grades. My mom was a reading teacher there. I remember having sleepovers in the library, I think for girl scouts or something. There’s something magical about school after dark. Another thing that sticks with me from Haskell was that the brother of a boy in my class got hit by a car outside the school. They closed that section of the road, made a park and named it after him.
Between second and third grades, my mom taught summer school at Whig Hill so I went with her. I liked school so I didn’t think it was a big –or bad—deal.
After Haskell, we moved to DeKalb. I started at Glidden, the coolest old building ever. On Fridays we could slide down the third floor ‘emergency exit,’ these tubes that ran from the top of the building to the ground. I also associate Glidden with the resignation of Nixon. I remember graffiti on a wall, “I am not a Crook,” it said, with a drawing of a two fingered peace sign. Glidden closed halfway through the year and we all went to the brand spanking new Roberts. This was 1975 and the trend was wall-less classrooms, or pods, I guess they were called. We had graduated classroom enrollment, I was a third grader in class with fourth and fifth graders. One day in January we had a fire drill and all filed out into the icy parking lot. I did not have shoes on, because at Roberts you didn’t have to wear shoes, so a kindly fifth grader let me stand on his feet. I also called my teacher by her first name, Linda.
My mom graduated from NIU and we returned to Rockford where I attended Conklin. I thought my teacher looked like Lynda Carter, aka Wonder Woman. I have many more memories of friends than I do of school at this time.
For fifth grade, I began the year at Ellen Stiles, where my English teacher complimented me on the way I read aloud in class (as requested!). The line was, “Upsy Daisy!” and I read it with devout inflection. I still do.
I finished the school year at Garrison and stuck around for the next. I had Mrs. Skerkoske for both fifth and sixth grades and I adored her. She was responsible for my getting a scholarship for a writing class at Rockford College. I also remember a classmate with the name of a famous golfer who had the biggest poofy afro I’d ever seen (it didn’t fit in the frame of his school picture!). We used to wad up pieces of paper and toss it in there. Sorry, Arnold.
There you go, my elementary adventures.
I have a friend who recently told me that she believes being forced to change schools in second grade damaged her sister’s social skills. That struck me as a most bizarre comment. I guess it never occurred to me that switching schools wasn’t something I was supposed to do. I’m a firm believer in rolling with the changes. It’s all fodder for something, right?