Archive for the ‘Ocean Park School’ Category

Walking That Old Memory Lane… Again.

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

1976 Letter from Jose Flores

The packet was full to bursting and was labeled “Student Work/Notes.”  The first one out of the envelope was a letter to me dated 10-1-76.  It was signed “your friend José Flores” and had been mailed from Mexico City:
Dear Mrs. LaRue,
I’m José and me and my family wish for you that be fine and too a happy new year.  I’m sorry because you didn’t been the day that we went to Hayward and I wish that you have readed the message that me and my sisters did put in the board.  I like to give you the thanks for your attentions for me in the school, for last I like that you come to Mexico and to my house to meet my family… your friend José Flores, good by.

José included his address, even the apartment number, so I could visit.  Even after all these years the tears did come.  I wish I could remember him more clearly — a second grader, in my class for only a month or two as I recall.  How I hope I wrote him!

1991 Letter from First Grader Tom Holgate

Another letter — this one from 1991 — begins Circle one:  Messy or Good Job
Dear Teacher, I am happy after Christmas the first graders get to be editors.  I practice at home.  Me and Carson made a bet that I would or wouldn’t make a mistake on my first try.  We bet $1.00.  Your friend, Tom Holgate, Grade 1.

Red-headed Tom Holgate — as bright as a new penny!  I think he was in my multigrade class for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades.  Carson (Kemmer), too.  I wonder who won the bet.  It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Tom had won.  I wonder if either one of them remembers now…

There were also a number of pictures from of  Nyel and me.  Several of them had us smiling broadly giving one another a fist-bump.  Go figure.

And, in case you’re wondering.  I haven’t made a dent in that packet.  Nor have I managed to do any “downsizing” of the contents…  I’m too busy being tangled up in a web of emotions.  How glad I am that I kept these treasures!

1992 Picture of Mr. & Mrs. S. by Katie Downer


We had to trash 1991.

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

Sad to say, 1991 is history, scrapbook-wise.  That hot water heater disaster of 2002 was hardest on this particular volume — perhaps because, atypically for my scrapbooks,  it had lots of news clippings in it.  That printers’ ink and newsprint didn’t survive the soaking – some pages (actually, many) even molded somwhere along the way.  My usual picture-filled scrapbooks seemed to do much better.

In the news that year — a threatened statewide teacher strike during which about half of the OBSD teachers joined in a march on Olympia.  Another biggee was that Gordon’s cousin, Jeanne Gammel, was fired as Manager of the Port of Peninsula by a 10-man Board of Directors and the  next week, Daughter of the Pioneer Charlotte Davis wrote, “Where were the women?” in Jeanne’s defense.  Jeanne’s “crime” seemed to be too much interest in having the Port help local communities!  (Wow!  How I wish Jeanne were still around to see how they’ve come a full 180º since then!)

There was one real treasure, however, tucked in the back of the scrapbook.  A “Happy Birthday from the 1-2-3 Class of 1990-91” to me!  Each page of the little booklet contained a birthday wish and drawing from one of my students.  “My birthday wish to you is…  a dog,” said Parker Hill; “… a million dollars,” said Adam Lindsley; “… a necklace and a bouquet of flowers,” said Lindsay Newell; “… a new pair of purple shoes,” said Marina Koontz; “… it will never rain for you,” said Travis Wentworth; “… a nice vacation,” said Daniel Duffy; “…a trailer,” said Jason Moore; “a plant,” said Carson Kemmer;   “… a new dress,” said Katie Downer;  And on it went.  I loved it then and now, 30 years later, I love it still!

These were the treasures that made teaching the best job EVER!  And, these are the treasures that make downsizing so impossible.

Miki, Me, and the Multigrade

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

Miki 2019

Miki Frace’s likeness smiled back at me from today’s paper.  Perhaps she smiled at you, too.  She’s on the front page of the Chinook Observer because she has just retired from the Ocean Beach School District.  (Was there an article about me when I retired?  I don’t think so, but it’s been too many years for my foggy memory to recall.)

I was on the team of teachers who interviewed Miki when she came here in 1986 or ’87. We sat at a big table in my classroom at Ocean Park and, as I remembered, it felt more like a chat among friends than a formal question and answer session.  That’s just the way Miki makes you feel.    And besides, her daughter Dorothy who was at the crawl-and-explore stage of life  — I remember that she was 18 months old; the paper said “seven months” which is probably closer to the truth — and we were all captivated immediately.  Miki got the job and right from the get-go we were friends.

Miki and Dorothy 2013

At first she taught down the hall from me.  She had Kindergarten; I had 1st/2nd/3rd.  We often shared ideas, talked strategies, commiserated when days were difficult.  Her room was full-to-overflowing with projects and ideas and enthusiasm.  “Messy Bessy” she called herself.  “Magic Miki” the rest of us thought.  And never mind that she is my son’s age.  Years had nothing to do with Miki’s life experiences or with her wisdom or with her huge heart.

The following year, some of her graduates came into my room and so we collaborated a little more fully.  We found that if we were writing something — a grant proposal, a curriculum expansion — we could easily begin or end one another’s sentences.  Then, suddenly it seemed, Dorothy was in first grade and in my class and  I remember feeling a bit schitzy for a minute or two.  I needn’t have worried.  Teaching a friend’s child when the friend is Miki turned out to be a non-problem.

Then came the time when my classroom was getting a lot of attention from the school board — especially from Chairman of the Board, Jack Williams. Initially, he came to observe as he did in every classroom.  “But I can’t tell who are the third graders and who are the first graders,” he said.  “That’s the point,” I told him.  “None of us come with a manual that says when we’ll learn what.  What grade you’re in really doesn’t matter.  It’s that you are continually building on the skills you’ve mastered…” said I.  And we talked some more.

“Why don’t all the teachers do this?” Admiral Jack asked.  Why indeed?  When I talked with Miki about it, she said she’d love to teach a “one-two-three.”  And soon she and I were, as she said, “joined at the hip” — taking our cause “on the road” so to speak.  We met with other teachers, other school board members, with our principal, and with our superintendent.  We met with parents and with the greater community.  We talked “multigrade.”  And we created the Ocean Park Multigrade School.

It lasted for about ten years, I think.  Maybe more.  Through it all, Miki and I continued spreading the good word — to other schools and other districts.  We even gave classes to teachers from all over the state.  I don’t think we called it Multigrade 101 but we could have.

Miki and Me – January 2019

When I was moved to Long Beach School, I missed the multigrade and when I retired, I missed the kids and my colleagues.  But I never had to miss Miki.  Our friendship has endured and I think it’s here to stay.  Thank goodness!