My First Year of Teaching: Part 2 (My Mentor)

On Friday afternoons, Patty invited a large group of the “young people” over to play Trivial Pursuit and drink wine.  For the first time, I truly understood the need to unwind on a Friday afternoon. Patty was a fast friend. I would drop by her classroom (music and French, I believe) to tell her that I didn’t know how to incorporate religious instruction into my parochial school classroom. I was a public school girl through and through. Patty had a quick and easy answer. “Say a prayer to start class.” She constantly reminded me that she was only teaching for two years, yet Patty was calm and cool which she assured me was all an act. She told me stories of her blunders in the early days of teaching.  Together, we laughed. I shared with her my hurt pride. Patty had a way of cutting to the chase, seeing the truth and not being deceived by the facade. I wanted so much to be Patty. One Friday night during a Trivial Pursuit match, we met Patty’s husband, and all of us wanted to be Patty.  Patty was married to Charlie. Charlie was tall, handsome, friendly and musical. Patty was quiet and unassuming. She didn’t try hard. I thought maybe you don’t have to try so hard; maybe life isn’t meant to be exhausting. I don’t recall the term introvert being part of the vernacular at that time, and even if it was it certainly carried with it a negative connotation.  Patty made it ok to just be. I needed to be in her presence, and fortunately she and I connected. The Trivial Pursuit games were lively, but we always slid into school talk. We needed to rationalize, justify, compare notes on our first years. Some were so painfully honest about their failures; some spoke with the wisdom of seasoned staff. On a certain level, I knew the braggarts were bluffing-none of us knew what we were doing and there was no guidance, except if you were fortunate to have a mentor like I did in Patty.  One night we were sitting around the table Patty had set up in the living room,Trivial Pursuit pie slices in hand. We watched for Charlie to come home after band practice so we could stare and gawk though when he arrived home, that was usually our signal to head home ourselves. Suzen, new PE teacher, boldly told Patty winter of that first year our collective feelings for her husband. She laughed and in her inevitable style, said, “He’s not that perfect!” Earlier that first year, we enviously thought Patty married up, but the more I got to know her, the more I was sure that Charlie was, in fact,  the lucky one.

4 thoughts on “My First Year of Teaching: Part 2 (My Mentor)

  1. There are many things I LOVE and can relate to in your posts; however, I have to thank you for writing from your heart rather than from C19. I haven’tbeen able to do so….but your posts inspire me and remind me……of those first years – long ago

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    1. Anita, Thank you…that means a lot to me. I prefer to look back when I write. I am not writing well about the present. I too sometimes look for slices that are unrelated to current events.

      Like

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