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  • Writer's pictureRobin Clyat

First-Grade Courage

I'd never had to be courageous before, but at six years old, the journey began as I was on my way to Garrison-Pilcher Elementary School for my very first day of school. Back in those days, kindergarten wasn't a thing, so I had never been exposed to such an environment. I remember vividly that first day. I was so nervous to enter a new world where uncertainty about the rules and expectations loomed. I'd never been with this many other kids or away from my home and family. As a first born child, however, I had already developed the typical characteristics of perfectionism and people-pleasing.

As my mother parked the car and walked me into the school, which seemed enormous, my heart raced and I gripped her hand with all my might. As we entered the lobby that stretched across the front of the school with its tall ceiling and tile floor, I felt so very small. I discovered that each grade was broken into a pod where all the classrooms from one grade were located together. Thankfully, first grade pod was the first pod to the left. My teacher, Mrs. Weatherspoon, was a warm, friendly, welcoming teacher. A larger lady with soft eyes and a kind spirit. After introducing herself to me, she took me by the hand and led me to a front desk. There on the top, written on a card, was my name! A glimmer of acceptance and belonging flickered in my heart.

I watched through tears as my mother walked out of the classroom. So many fears, so many new experiences loomed, so many uncertainties swirled in my first-grade head! I didn't know at the time how much courage I would need to begin this journey.

But somehow, as the days passed, new friends were made, anxieties were calmed, and I settled into the new environment. Mrs. Weatherspoon had such an enormous influence on me at this young age and in this most impactful moment. She provided the space, encouragement, and safety I needed to explore. School became a safe place for me; a place for competing with myself; a place to try new things and exploring new ideas. My love for learning began in the first grade. Motivations for learning and taking risks have changed and developed over the years, but the love for adventure, learning something new, and exploring new ideas lives on! When did you first realize your love for learning? Who influenced you? A teacher? A coach? Leave a comment below with your story! I'd love to read it!

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David Oaks
David Oaks
01 jun 2023

I too remember falling in love with learning at grade one, Mrs Williams!

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