After my first year teaching fifth grade to a class of 23 kids that were mostly one to three years failed my best friend Melanie suggest I move to her school which had a fourth grade opening.
We went to basketball games in St. George which had only 124 kids K-6, and I met Coach Bibby. I kept attending the games and he got to know me and know that I would do extra for my classroom.
So, I got a transfer from my elementary school grades 4 - 6 that was large and poorly run who had a principal waiting for his retirement to a very small school where Coach Bibby did everything to cutting the grass and organizing sports.
I was grateful and I fell in love with my class. Whereas, my first year I had mostly students who were 13 years old and four 15 years old who had given up on education in my new class all, but one was on-grade level. It made a huge difference in ability level and I could extend my lessons into fun topics such as Free Choice where a child would prepare a lesson to teach the class on a topic that interested them. I decorated my walls with their posters and usually stayed late and worked on grading. Everyone was doing fair to very well - except David.
David was my student who just refused to participate. I conjoaled. I intoned about that hard work feels good. I took recess away. Eventually, I decided I needed to talk to his parents and I would do this in a home visit.
David was apathetic about my visit, but the Saturday did roll around and I drove to a rather large house surrounded by fenced in fields and that had more than one barn. David ran out to meet me. He said before I come inside to see his mom that he wanted to show me the farm and his animals.
I was impressed. This was the most David had ever talked. I smiled and we went to see the horses, pigs and everything was so clean and well cared for. David told me about his chores and how the farm ran. He just beamed. I was impressed, but kept quiet. I reckoned that he had heard me everyday and that today I listen to him, instead.
And, piglets squealed and I just laughed at them. David's face lit up even more. He was so animated. He said to follow him and he had to best surprise, but I had to close my eye. Put my hand on his shoulder and follow him. We walk to another pin. I know that. David said for me to keep my eyes closed and hold out my arms because he was going to put 'the sweetest thang' in my arms.
Arms out and now I'm worried. I don't know what he's up to and I worry about going along with this. I worry that maybe I should be with his mother in the living room instead of outside touring his farm. After all, I was a town girl. I had no idea about farm life. My grandparents had small vegetable patches and the one who had cows kept me from them. I began to ask David if he was playing around when the softest weight that smelled like dew was placed in my arms.
I open my eyes and I see I'm holding a rather small sheep? David said the baby lamb was brand new - not three days old. It was the size of a medium dog, but very light and fluffy. I put my nose in its sides and breath the sweet smell of new born lamb. It was so delicate and it bleated. I laughed and David took it back to its mom. I watched it feed.
I don't remember the home visit. I just remember being impressed by how much David understood and knew. After that visit David remained quiet, but he applied himself and had a really good second year in fourth grade. And, I was happy for him, and on difficult days when he seemed to be slipping I could see him strong, confident on the farm and subtlety I would alter how I worked with him and he'd come around.
My second year was a year full of firsts, but of all the good times I had holding that baby lamb and seeing the joy in David made me a very content teacher. I knew that my students had lives outside of school that I could not imagine, and that school work was just one way they could be confident and quick.
Finally, it was like a warm ball of fluff and my heart stirred for David, and for my old class who were too poor, and never got to feel success at their homes. Sometimes after class I'd be melancholy, but I convinced myself that I never gave up on any of my kids, and that holding a baby lamb was my reward.