At the end of my 3rd grade year, my parents got divorced and my mother, my two sisters and I moved into a two-bedroom apartment behind Pennington Field. My mother, in an effort to provide both our needs and some of our wants began to work three jobs causing her to be out of the home every day and most nights. When the summer ended, my oldest sister went away to college and my other sister began her 8th grade year at Central Junior High by being very involved in Athletics. What this meant for me, is that I was walking home from Bell Manor on my own for the first time. For the most part, this was great to me. I’d get home and turn on my favorite cartoons with no one to be annoyed by them. I could sneak a snack out of the fridge and have some “me time.” However, one day, I came home to a much less inviting situation.
I walked home, as usual, from school one day only to discover that our house had been robbed. I didn’t understand what had happened but as I explained the mess to my mother, she came to understand that there had most certainly been a theft. We didn’t really know anyone in the apartment complex, so there was nowhere for me to go. My mom was, of course, terrified. Her youngest child was now going to be coming home, alone, to an environment that no longer felt safe. No matter how many locks we added, our house was no longer a safe haven.
My fourth grade teacher was a remarkable woman named Mrs. Osborne. She was kind, and funny, and caring. She would make faces at us when we were taking spelling tests so that we didn’t stress out so much over such a little assignment. She had taken French when she was in school and had been unable to use it. As a result, she decided to tell us that if we didn’t know the answer to a question, and we wrote, “Je Ne Sais Pas” in the answer blank, we would get a couple of points of credit. She made the classroom a fun place, while challenging us.
When Mrs. Osborne heard what had happened, she offered a very kind option to my mother. She told my mother that she would be willing to keep an eye on me until Mom could get off of work and come pick me up. After all, she had to be up at the school grading papers anyway. So after school everyday, she would keep me safe and I would help clean up the room and grade papers. She would take me over to a little teacher’s lounge area and buy me a Diet Dr. Pepper every day, which was such a nice treat. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a special place in my heart for Dr. Pepper and I think this might just be where it all started.
That’s not all that Mrs. Osborne did for me. I’ve always been a voracious reader and my favorite times of the year were when the Scholastic book fairs would come to our school. That is probably why, when she heard that I didn’t have a public library card, Mrs. Osborne loaded me into her car (with my mom’s permission of course) and took me over to the Bedford Public Library so that I could get my very first Bedford Public Library card. My hunger for reading was only increased exponentially as a result.
Mrs. Osborne, made me feel safe and special. She helped me to see how wonderful a story could be to those who can get lost in them. She went above and beyond. Years later, when I decided to go back to college in my mid-20’s I was thinking of her. I knew that I wanted to be a great teacher like Mrs. Osborne. I wanted to make an impact on a child – to help them to understand that they have value and are special and to help them fall in love with books. Mrs. Osborne changed my life.
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