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Mrs. R: Portrait Of A Teacher This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Teachers ... there are so many different types. Are there some we dislike at the time, but realize afterwards how much we learned? In my case this was true.

Standing tall, her sharp, snapping brown eyes would look over each member of the class, or so it seemed to us, her pupils. We would be almost forced, by a seemingly inexplicable power to look up at her distinct, ruddy face. Every once in awhile, with her delicate hand, she would smooth her grayish-black hair, which was pulled neatly into a bun. She would tuck her unwrinkled blouse into her neatly ironed skirt. Her appearance matched her character to a "T." I had never met anyone like her in my short nine years.

Written on her bare forehead in invisible ink was her informal slogan, "There is a place for everything, and everything in its place." Soon after the first week of school had drawn to an end, my classmates and I learned it to be true.

"You will need two separate folders for this class," she told us. "One will be entitled Important Papers folder and one will be entitled Unfinished Work folder." Those two folders alone contained every paper we did in fourth grade. If you happened to look in our classroom, you would see twenty-four little, desks, and forty-eight little cubbies, and not one loose piece of paper. It was simply unheard of in her class. Homework and class papers were to have no wrinkles; if they did, they would not be accepted. If you did not do your homework, you would receive a check on an index card, which would be reflected on your homework grade. That year I never received a single check.

By now you know how strict Mrs. R. was. However, it was impossible to commiserate with us,unless you were actually in her class. I remember a most unfortunate incident that affected one of my fellow classmates. We were about to launch into a new activity when Mrs. R. walked by one of my classmate's desks. She glanced into one of the cubbies. However, this time she did not just continue on; this time she stopped. What happened next was an ugly sight for ordinary eyes to behold. He brown eyes suddenly widened about five centimeters and her already red complexion turned a shade redder, becoming a rich crimson. All the muscles in her face tightened. For about thirty seconds, it was so quiet. Then, all of a sudden, she let out a terrible shriek. She was astonished, she was shocked, she was out of control. She ranted and raved for several minutes at the child, the focus of her anger, simply because his desk was messy, and several papers were out of their folder! She made the boy empty out his desk and organize everything neatly. When that task was completed, she used her favorite expression, "You are cordially invited to stay in for recess," which is the worst punishment you can give a fourth grader.

My impressions of my teacher as a fourth grader have changed over the years. At the time, I thought that I was very unlucky to have Mrs. R. because I was not particularly fond of her strict teaching methods. Now, however, I realize that she had a positive influence on me because she taught me many important skills, the most important was how to be neat and organized, which was my one of my weakest areas. I also learned how to take notes, and how to become a more responsible person. But the most important lesson she taught me I did not learn until years later, a lesson that you cannot put on paper. That lesson was that the best things for you are not always enjoyable and some things in life you must tolerate, even if you find them difficult. As Mrs. R. always used to say, "You can't have your cake and eat it too."n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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