My daughter’s first grade teacher, Mrs. C., is such a sweetheart. She is the most loving lady, and she’s direct and firm, but fair. She doesn’t just tell you how much the children in her classroom mean to her, she’s shows them every day, in every way, by making them feel cherished, respected, and valued. She is quick to praise a child when they make good choices, and equally quick to guide children to make better choices when they stumble. I simply cannot say enough good things about Mrs. C.
My oldest son also had her for first grade, too, and I’ve made it very clear to Mrs. C. that she needs to stick around the school for 5 more years to ensure that my younger two children get to benefit from having such an amazing woman give them such a wonderful start in their education. I simply cannot imagine my children having a better teacher than Mrs. C.
Well, not unless they somehow were able to coax my first grade teacher, also a Mrs. C, out of retirement. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Cambridge, was (and still is) a remarkable, remarkable woman. I mean, how many teachers would send you a card for Valentine’s Day, 32 years after you sat in her classroom?
As I get older, although my elementary school days have begun to fade, I’ll never forget being in Mrs. Cambridge’s first grade class. She called all of her students, even the ones that misbehaved, “Lambie Pie” “Honey,” and “Sugar Lump.” If you did well on a test, it was commonplace to see “Great Job Sweetie!” Or “nice work, Lambie Pie!” on your paper. She loved us and we totally felt that love every day. She encouraged us to always try our best. And we did. For her. She was tough on us, and expected us to be the best we could be, but she was always, always fair. And always packaged her toughness and high expectations with tenderness and affection.
When I look back on my education, I know that Mrs. Cambridge played a big role in my loving school. How could I do anything but love school when I was in the classroom with someone who cared for me the way she did? I remember how eager I was to get to school every day and how I sad I felt to leave her when the final bell rang. I remember how much she taught me to value myself and to believe that I could do well if I worked hard.
I carried my love for Mrs. Cambridge everywhere I went. My parents took my sister and I to UK when I was in first grade, and I begged my parents to buy me a pink Cambridge University sweatshirt. Just being able to wear her name on a sweatshirt made me feel special and loved. I wore the hell out of this sweatshirt. Until it looked like I was wearing a baby doll’s clothes 2 years later. That was a sad day, giving away my Cambridge University sweatshirt.
And I remember after finishing first grade, wanting to do well in each subsequent grade to make Mrs. Cambridge proud. Every time I would visit her to say hello before she transferred to a different school, it was as if nothing had changed. I was still her Lambie Pie!
I lost touch with Mrs. Cambridge during my middle and high school years, but she was never far from my thoughts. I strove for excellence because she taught me that I could attain it. I didn’t waste my time doubting myself or believing anything negative that people said about me during those awkward middle school years, because under her watch, I learned self-reliance and self-worth. I was enough and everything was possible. It’s amazing how a good teacher affects everything so profoundly.
And Mrs. Cambridge was truly the benchmark by which every teacher that followed was compared. No one held a candle to Mrs. Cambridge. Not even close. At least not for me. She will always go down as the all time greatest teacher.
When I got back in touch with her a few years ago, it was as if nothing had changed. Even her handwriting with the little hearts was exactly as I remembered. She was as sweet as ever. It has so nice to share with her what has been going on with me since I left her classroom 32 years ago; to share the birth of my children with her and important milestones. And to thank her for everything. Because I truly my believe that my children’s success in school is in part because of the solid foundation she laid for me. No matter how old I get, call me a Teacher’s Pet, but I’ll always be Mrs. Cambridge’s Lambie Pie!
And I’ll tell you what – my children’s first grade teacher is giving Mrs. Cambridge a run for her money. And that’s a good thing. Having a great teacher, especially this early on, means everything. And I feel like my kids are so lucky to have their version of Mrs. Cambridge.