• When children’s book author Betsy Byars was three years old, she heard a lot about Miss Harriet, the first-grade teacher of her older sister, and she couldn’t wait to grow up and be a student in Miss Harriet’s class, so that she could paint and be read to from a book titled The Adventures of Mabel. Betsy did grow old enough to go to school, and on the first day, she and the other students were assigned to various teachers. Unfortunately, Betsy was not assigned to Miss Harriet. Nevertheless, she knew what she wanted, and she went to Miss Harriet’s class anyway. Soon, the principal appeared in the classroom, looking for her, since she had not gone to the right room. Betsy told the principal, “I want to be in Miss Harriet’s room.” Then she corrected herself and said, “I have to be in Miss Harriet’s room.” Miss Harriet told the principal, “Let her stay.” The principal did, and first grade with Miss Harriet was as wonderful as Betsy had hoped it would be.
• As a teenager, American artist Audrey Flack wanted to be accepted into New York City’s High School of Music and Art. She was asked to bring her works of art in a portfolio to the high school and to take an art exam. Since she didn’t know what a portfolio was, she went to a dime store. There she discovered an eight-by-ten brown folder marked “PORTFOLIO.” She bought it, removed the pieces of stationery from inside it, and put her own drawings inside. When her father drove her to the high school, she saw art students carrying large leather cases and realized that those must be real portfolios. She was so embarrassed that she didn’t want to get out of the car. Fortunately, her father pushed her out, she took the exam and passed, and she became first an art student and then a noted artist.
• In November of 1973, Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut competed in the all-around competition at the European Championships. She performed well, but fellow Soviet gymnast Ludmilla Tourischeva performed better, winning gold to Olga’s silver. When the medal winners were walking to the awards platform, Olga suddenly turned away, walked to a bench, and sat down. She was so disappointed in coming in second that she wanted to refuse to accept the silver medal. However, a female Soviet coach walked over to Olga, grabbed her shoulders, and marched her back to the line. Olga accepted the silver medal and learned something about showing grace when coming in second.
• When children’s book author Tomie dePaola first walked into his kindergarten classroom, he asked the teacher, “When do we learn to read?” She explained that students didn’t learn to read in kindergarten, but they would learn to read the following year, in first grade. Tomie replied, “Fine, I’ll be back next year.” Then he went home. The school called his parents — his father was working and his mother was shopping. His parents found him at home, looking at a book, trying to figure out how to read it. His mother then explained that he needed to pass kindergarten in order to go to the first grade, where he would learn to read, and so Tomie reluctantly attended kindergarten.
• When gymnast Tracee Talavera was a schoolchild, she used to teach acrobatics to the children in the special class — that is, children who were blind or deaf — during recess. She would line the children up and have them do handstands and cartwheels and other forms of tumbling. Since the blind children could hear, she would yell at them and tell them what to do, and she learned a little sign language so she could communicate with the deaf children. She remembers one particular deaf boy who could hold a handstand seemingly forever. She also remembers one particular blind girl who was very smart — “She used to steal my lunch and eat it when I wasn’t looking!”
• When soprano Leslie Garrett was very young and had just started to attend grammar school, her pet rabbit died. She was distraught and did not attend school the day she and her family held a funeral for her pet rabbit. The following day, she returned to school, bearing a note from her mother that explained the reason for her absence. Young Leslie worried about what her mother had written, since she realized that school authorities would not regard the death of a rabbit as a suitable reason for not attending school. Fortunately, her mother had simply written, “Family Bereavement.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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