Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Thanks Mrs. M. - A 4th of July Memory

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Today I’m thankful for my country and my freedoms and for the brave men and women who have fought (and are fighting now) to gain and to preserve my freedoms, all the way back to those men who were willing to risk their lives to sign a document declaring our country’s independence.

But singing America the Beautiful on Sunday morning, brought to mind someone else in my life that I’m thankful for.

In third grade I wasn’t assigned to Mr. Columbus’ classroom. He was in high demand among the students -- everyone wanted to be in the class with the only male teacher in the school; it helped that he was also handsome, tall and had a deep voice.

No. I was assigned to Mrs. McCrary’s class. Mrs. McCrary was oldish (Hey, I was in third grade!); she had a lot of auburn hair that she wore up on her head and perched on her ample nose were a pair of clunky glasses with dark plastic frames (I notice these frames are coming back into style.) What I came to learn was of more value than Mr. C’s deep voice and the ability to give a killer underdoggie swing, was Mrs. McCrary’s ability to play the piano; she even had a piano in her classroom! She used that piano as a teaching tool, as a musician it was natural. Each day we started with a song!

Now she could have taught us just about any song she liked, we were a captive audience, afterall. But instead, she chose to teach us the songs of our country - patriotic songs and folk songs. She even taught us our state song. (How many 8 year olds do you know who can sing you their state song?) Each morning, the privilege of choosing the song of that day was passed from each student to the next. I remember the day when my turn arrived - it was exciting!

During that year, I knew how special a teacher Mrs. McCrary was. She cared deeply for each one of us and it showed. But as an adult, now I see what a priceless gift she gave us in teaching us about our nation’s heritage and teaching us to express our patriotism by singing those songs that honor our country and state. She gave me a gift that gives back to me every time I sing one of these songs. When I do, I’m reminded of the responsibility I have to carry on the tradition of national pride and teach my kids these songs. Mrs. M.’s gift is a treasure to my children as I pass on these songs to them.

Thank you God for freedom, we truly live in a great country. Thank you too for Mrs. McCrary, for her heart for our country and for her students - for me.


MP2 said...

What a nice tribute - it reminded me of my elementary school music teacher as well and all the "American" songs she taught us. I have especially used her song that taught the order of the presidents throughout my entire life - on the ACTs, playing Jeopardy & Trivial Pursuit, in reading, in conversation, and in teaching my own kids!

pastormac said...

Beautiful story!

Kara Ashbaugh said...

I also had Ms. McCrary for third grade - she was the teacher who gave me the desire to teach! The piano in her room, the songs that she taught us, the handwriting lessons that she insisted we perfect, and the love she had for each of her students are some of my best memories of a very difficult period of adjustment in my life.... I will always be grateful.