Ebb and Flow

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 22, 1999

DEBORAH CORRAO / L’Observateur / May 22, 1999

As a child, I loved school. It wasn’t cool to admit that then anymore thanit is now. I also had teachers who I loved and respected, but I never letthem know it.

But as the school year winds down, I would like to say a special “thank you” to a person who has had a special place in my granddaughter’s life this year.

Carley began first grade at Mimosa Park Elementary in the fall and was assigned to Ashleigh Espy’s class. Mrs. Espy was a brand new teacher onher first assignment. Transferred with her husband from Georgia, she wasembarking on her new career in unfamiliar surroundings.

At first, I admit, I was a little leery about her abilities. Was she tooyoung? Too inexperienced? But within a month I was no longer concerned. Carley loved Mrs. Espy fromthe first introduction. And from the first week of school, I knew Mrs. Espywould be different.

Each week she wrote and printed a class newsletter to keep parents aware of everything that happened in the classroom. The children designed theirown class T-shirts.

With every lesson plan she coordinated hands-on projects to make the learning experience more interesting for the students. And, the times thatI visited the classroom, I noticed that her teaching methods were so ingenuous that the students didn’t realize that they were even having lessons.

Before Christmas she had children write letters to Santa and the children received written answers from him during the class Christmas party.

During the holidays, Mrs. Espy mailed each child a personalized Christmascard.

During the Mardi Gras season she rewarded good behavior with beads.

When a student had accumulated small necklaces, he or she could trade them in on a big one.

When the children were reading the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, they made prairie milk shakes. And the list goes on and on.Each and every lesson was an inspiration.

The last month of school, Mrs. Espy and her students decorated herclassroom like a rain forest. In the door of the room hung translucentyellow strips to symbolize sunshine. A big kapok tree occupied the center.Children made rainsticks and toucans. The class watched butterflies hatchand adopted a fire-bellied toad. They made treats to eat with vanilla beansand chocolate, products indigenous to the forest.

Next week parents have been invited to a Rain Forest Adventure Tea.

For the past month or so, the first-graders wrote their own newsletter, each reporter assigned to a subject such as sports, weather or movie reviews.

Throughout the year, Mrs. Espy displayed unflagging energy and creativityas well as love for each of her students.

For these reasons and many others, I would like to thank Mrs. Espy forbeing the kind of caring teacher we all hope that our children will have. Iknow there are other teachers out there like Mrs. Espy. I hope Carley islucky enough to have one of them every year and in every classroom.

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