Back Then

“Back Then”

Apr09-4I was a teacher for over seven years and mostly taught first grade.  My first year of teaching was in 1998.  That group of first graders is now juniors in high school.  It’s amazing to see their changes over the past 11 years.  Braea Tilford was, and still is, one of my most favorite students.  She was smart, friendly and was eager to learn during my first years of teaching.

I recently ran in Braea at the HBCU Conference.  No longer little, we looked at each other eye to eye.  Most people looking at the two of us together would have never believed that I taught her so long ago.  Seeing her made me think about high school then and now – and my how things have changed.

I graduated high school in 1994. Back then, when you wanted to give somebody some information, you wrote on a piece of paper and tried to sneak the other person a note either in class or the hallway.  Sometimes it said something as simple as “do you like me? __yes  __no”  You’d try to fold the piece of paper as small as possible and would sometimes decorate the outside.  Now, these kids send text messages and use instant messenger.  You can send a note to one person, or 100 people with just the click of a button.

Back in the day, you found out all the juicy information about a person by receiving your yearbook at the end of the year.  You laughed at the pictures you’d forgotten had been taken and loved reading the messages your friends would leave you.  (if creative enough, you’d put hearts around your crushes and blacken the eyes of your enemies) Now, everybody has a Myspace, Facebook and a Twitter page.  You can know what somebody is doing every five minutes if they decided to tell you.  There’s no long anticipation, all you have to do is click the refresh button on your computer.

Back then, when you knew you weren’t supposed to be talking to a boy, you would drag the phone (attached to the phone cord) to the nearest closet and whisper as quietly as possible.  You’d sometimes have a code word for the person so nobody else around would be in your business.  You thought you were big time when you called someone on three-way without the other person knowing.  Now, everybody has a cell phone so you canhave a phone conversation any and everywhere your heart desires.  Instead of whispering, most people talk as loud as possible and everyone around can tell you what is being said.

Back in the day, you’d pull out that camera to take pics of all your friends.  Once you had transportation, you’d go to a Walgreens to drop off the photos and come back a week later to see them.  Half of them may have not even turned out, but you took the time to place the photos in the pages of the plastic photos albums they would give you.  Now, as soon as you click a picture in your digital camera or with you camera phone, you can see it, emailed it, print it or post it on the web – instantly!

Back in the day, when you had a favorite tune, you’d sit by the radio all day waiting for it to come on.  As soon as you heard it you’d press “record” so that you could have it on your mix cassette tape.

Back then, you could go to school without worrying about being shot. Back then, Grippos and a Big Red were the ultimate snack. Back in the day, the dollar movie really only cost a dollar.

Back them we thought the smallest things meant the end of the world.  Who would have known that those were the easy days?!

M.Y. April 2009

It’s About People

“It’s About People”

Part of my job requires me to visit schools to represent teachers.  I had just finished a meeting at Shawnee High School and was in the hallway talking with one of my teachers.  As I walked off, headed toward my car, I heard a small voice say, “Ms. Yeager?”  Ms. Yeager.  I know that name.  I don’t hear that name often.  There are only certain people that call me that name and they usually aren’t more than three apples high.  See, Ms. Yeager was my teaching name.  It’s the name precious little six-year-olds anxiously yelled out when they knew the answer to a question, needed to use the bathroom or excitedly yelled out when they discovered a new word they could read.  Whose voice could this be?

I turned around to see a tall, thin, beautiful teenager.  Right away I knew who it was.  It was Devron Williams, and she was one of my favorite students from my first two years of teaching from 1998-2000.  It’s so hard to imagine that my cute little first graders are now ‘want-to-be grown’ sophomores in high school.  Although she now towered over me, she still glared at me with the same sense of admiration that existed nine years ago.  Devron was always soft spoken and very, very shy.  I remember when we did a holiday play and each child had a talking part.  Although Devron wanted to be in the play, she was too shy to say anything.  So, she became the stuffed teddy bear that just sat there on the stage.  Hey, if it worked for her, it worked for me.

We talked in the hall for several minutes and it was hard to determine who was more excited.  I was impressed that she still remembered a lot of facts about me.  I reflected on all the wonderful stories/letters she wrote for me throughout elementary school.  As I walked away, I realized truly what this holiday season is about. It’s not about snow, or presents, or additional vacation days. It’s not about sales, or college bowl games or a warm bowl of chili (although all of those things are nice).  It’s about people.  I call this my transitional Christmas.  I’ll try to continue some old traditions, while at the same time I’ll slowly develop some new.  So this holiday season, try not to get too caught up the hype and hooplah.  Just when you start feelings stressed or depressed, realize the true meaning of the holidays and surround yourself with positive people or be the positive person for someone else!

*Also, thank you for your input on last’s week fictional scenario.  Both at the LULYP social and online there was very good dialogue between the sexes!*


M.Y.  December 2007

Six Years Old

“Six-year olds” 

Children are such wonderful souls.  I taught first grade for 5 years.  During my 1st year of teaching one of my students said, “Ms. Yeager, did you know my mother had sex with two guys?”  I was shocked at her statement and asked why she would say something like that.  Her response was “Because I have a twin brother!”  I reminded her that she and her brother have the same father and she should probably talk to her mom more about it all…..that group of six-year-olds are now freshman in high school and have myspace pages that have blown my mind.  It just helps me realize that we all were innocent once…..

M.Y. April 2007