“I don’t get to put ‘play catch’ on my calendar very often*,” Stephen messaged me. That message was immediately followed by, “*ever.”
I replied, “Until this year, I would have said the same thing.”
We had scheduled to meet at Jenny Lincoln Field. I arrived early, trying to stretch out my lower back. Apparently I pulled or strained a muscle picking up my backpack, which is a very embarrassing confession to write. Thankfully, the predicted storms won’t roll in until this afternoon, so today’s catch was cool and cloud-covered.
“I think the last time I played catch, the last time I used a glove and a ball, it was at least 2005. I was a student at Truman State.”
Stephen grew up a Cardinals fan and became a Royals fan in college.
“They’re my second favorite team. I enjoyed cheering for a team that hadn’t seen success for a while.”
The mid-2000 Royals were the perfect underdog team. They did a great job of finding new ways to lose games. They did a great job of teaching how not to play baseball.
Stephen is a writer for the News-Leader, composing thoughtful editorials and coordinating submissions.
“I love being able to influence change.”
Since the end of the school year is upon us, he’s asking for submissions of memories of favorite teachers.
I told him the story of Mrs. Reece, my physics and chemistry teacher at Kickapoo, who demonstrated Newton’s Laws with an egg, a broom, and a baseball bat swing.
I then told him the story of Mr. Freeman. In 1988, someone wrote something about the world ending at noon on a certain date. That date and time fell in the middle of Mr. Freeman’s 8th grade Algebra class. For the final minute of the world as we knew it, Mr. Freeman made us sit in silence and think about our lives. When the clock ticked noon he loudly proclaimed, “I knew it! Math is heaven!”
On the drive home, after catch and after the selfie, I remembered other favorite teacher stories.
Mr. Dey (1st grade) taught me how to spell ‘bicycle’ the day I learned how to ride one.
Mrs. St. Gemme (2nd grade) told me I’d be a good sports writer after I wrote a story about the Royals winning the World Series.
Mrs. Reynolds (3rd grade) loved my essay on Jackie Robinson and asked if she could keep it.
Mrs. Rhodes (5th grade) gave my class a firsthand demonstration of how bad smoking is for our lungs. She also used to dress up like Viola Swamp whenever she was in a grumpy mood.
Of course, I’m married to my favorite teacher. Her patient perseverance has helped some of her non-verbal students learn how to communicate through technology. Her compassion and creativity in connecting to her students is evident in the time she spends at home in preparation, processing how best to help her students learn about themselves and the world around them.
If you want to submit stories of your favorite teacher, please send a note to Stephen through the link above. Teachers are a gift to every community.
This fall, Stephen’s daughter is going to start kindergarten. His big dream for 2018 is for a smooth transition, that her teachers will make learning a joy.
This fall, my oldest daughter will be a senior. She’s dreaming of colleges and careers and asking all the big life questions.
My hope is that this year of playing catch will teach her that you’re never too old to chase your dreams no matter how ridiculous they might seem. Even with a sore back.