Who Is Your Sponge?

Mrs. Lora Baker was my fifth grade teacher and I was her sponge.  Much of the passion for teaching, I soaked up in that fifth grade classroom in the little Delta town of Shaw, Mississippi.

Everyone has a favorite teacher. I was blessed to have several that impacted my life. However, there was a special environment and atmosphere of creativity in Mrs. Baker's classroom. For one thing, I loved the afternoon reading time. I loved her sense of being one with us which made it "kid friendly".

I know teaching is a gift from God. She gave it back to Him with magnificient joy.  I remember one particular instance, that will help you to relate - the Indian theme. The classroom in my vivid imagination was now an Indian setting.  Mrs. Baker announced one day that we would all dress in costume. So the girls would be squaws and the boys Indian braves.  In this class, there were many LINDAS -- Linda Sue, Linda Ann, Linda Rose and me.....Linda Nell.  ( I may have left someone out!) 

I must keep on track with my story: LInda Sue and I explained to Mrs. Baker that we did not have any material at home that would work. She thought for a moment and then looked up and yanked on the old shades that were on the windows and down came material just perfect for our dresses.  The next day, Linda Sue and I showed up looking fine. I braided my long black hair and stuck in a feather - thanks to our chickens. The shades were cut with fringe accents around the bottom. It was a proud moment when I jumped on the bus to ride to school with eyes mesmerized on me.

My blond friend, Linda Sue, went one step further (How imaginative!) and made a papoose to carry her "baby" on her back. She seemed to me to be a wonderful example of any tender mother. The day was filled with fodder for my active imagination.

I would be amiss if I left out that Christmas of a joyful childhood venture. Our school was small and so was the number of children in our classes.  The day of our big play - we were ready!  Two fifth grade classses performed with all of our hearts. All the practicing  paid off. I was Little Nell. You know - "First comes the stocking of Little Nell. Oh, dear Santa fill it well. Give her a dolly that laughs and that will open and shut her eyes!  Hey, I was Linda Nell so it appealed to me greatly. Who else would I be?

I had not seen the magnificent, enormous displays or scenery before the play started.  I can't describe my level of exhilaration when I beheld the array of glittering Christmas decors, especially the huge sleigh.  At one point, my eyes met the teachers' eyes as they observed the reactions. I could sense the hard work and sacrifice of personal time was rewarded as they seem to grasp the depth of appreciation and awe in a child's shining eyes. I knew then: I was going to be a teacher some day. 

One last event was when Linda Rose, Linda Sue and I performed a skit for a competitive event.  We dressed in our big crinolin skirts and sang, "How You Gonna Keep Um Down on the Farm After They've Seen Parie" (Paris).  We were serious and practiced every free moment. We had fun even if we wore that rountine and song completely to a frazzle, and possibly everyone near us.  To me, this song was prophetic. I grew up, went to college, married and never lived in my small, farming town again.

There are rare moments in all of our lives that changes us and compels us to soar to new heights. Every person who has touched our lives and hearts leaves a gift - even the most difficult people strengthens us in ways we do not readily recognize.

I think we are always growing, learning, teaching, loving, giving, imparting, absorbing, and sharing.  I hope we stay AWARE of the tremedous influence we all have where we are planted.  John Wesley said, "The World Is My Pulpit."  You don't have to be a teacher or preacher to change lives.  I believe when we listen, value, speak faith, love unconditionally, and allow others to shine-- we are changing the world, also.  Who is your sponge?

Linda Rossetti Brocato/Brocato Publishing- Touching Hearts..Changing Lives   August 16, 2012


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