Friday, September 22, 2006

Performing at My Elementary Alma Mater

Today I got to do an educational, motivational assembly program at Oak Ridge Elementary in Conroe ISD in Texas. I've done thousands of elementary school assembly programs over the years but this is the first one at the school where it all started for me.

I still remember the very first time I stepped onto that campus, thirty-some-odd years ago. The school was brand new at the time and I was brand new to the whole "school experience". I showed up petrified, like most kindergartners. My father walked me in and introduced me to someone he said was his friend, but I got the distinct impression that it was just another scared kid who was just as happy to have someone to cling to on that first day as I was.

I remember my teacher, Miss Norman, who no longer works there (surprise, surprise!). I wonder if she knows how in love I was with her. Not in the way a high school senior might fall in love with his 24-year-old teacher, but like a child loves a parent. I don't really know if she was a good teacher or not as I didn't know as much about pedagogy then as I do now, but I know that in my mind, there were simply none better than her.

I still feel that way about her and am sure, in my heart, that she was everything I remember.

The school has changed to be almost completely unrecognizable. When I went there, "open concept" was the new thing. They have since found that this just created loud, somewhat disruptive learning environments and so all the rooms have had walls built. What was once the front office is no longer. Now the front office is where the art room used to be. I think.

It's hard to tell. So much has changed there within the walls.

The only thing that really looks the same is the play ground. I mean, all the equipment has since been replace with newer, safer, more colorful stuff, but the shape of the playground, the way the trees lay, the shape of the outside of the building (which hasn't changed) and the road and fence line. All that remains the same.

So, I'm spending the rest of the evening remembering long forgotten times. Like the day the first graders made tie-dyed t-shirts. And our field trip to some place that made HUGE tires (and that is ALL I remember from that field trip, but I still think it is worthwhile). The games we used to play in the playground. Being "in love" with Kelly Portera and Shea Gustavsen (the former in Kindergarten and the latter in 2nd or 3rd grade).

It was cool to go back for a day.

I even got my old year book out and am excited about our upcoming 20 year reunion. I guess I'll blog on that as well.

--Julian Franklin (a.k.a. Jay Pugh)

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