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Fourth Grade

October 16, 2010

It’s my birthday today.  I always think back on my life during this time.  Today I had to reminisce about my childhood.  I didn’t have a fairytale childhood-but you would think that I did.  My memories are full of all the good things and people God has brought into my life.  I love my family-my husband is amazing-my hero.  My children are my heartbeat.  But-today-I want to thank my fourth grade teacher and Facebook.  I know Facebook can be a resident evil and it takes a lot of self-discipline to interact on Facebook-the reason why my children do not have a Facebook and they won’t until they are 30–But Facebook can bring people together that would have been lost to each other in a pre-technology based world.  So–today–a story.


I was in the fourth grade.  My family had just moved into the housing project in Decatur, Illinois.  I don’t remember the name of the apartments.  I was barely 9 years old.  That would have put us back into the 1970’s-early 1970’s-in case you want to guess my age.  I can’t remember a lot about school before this point.  We had moved from California-back to Illinois-to Texas-back to Illinois-and in several different homes, once back in Illinois.  This was just another move.  It was normal for me.  I didn’t attach myself to friends-I only remember playing tether ball during recess.  I remember not liking school work.  I never cared about doing well.  No one else cared-so why should I?  It never bothered me-I just didn’t care and I didn’t pay attention in class.  Now I was in a new school-again-and I was the only white girl in the class.  I can be politically correct and say caucasian.  I was used to growing up with the black kids.  I didn’t know prejudice.  I only noticed it this particular year because I was the minority.  This was the 1970’s-race riots were happening.  Because of where we lived-we were right in the middle of it.

I started school with the same attitude as in years past.  It was harder now.  I couldn’t hide counting on my fingers-not knowing my multiplication tables.  I started to fear school now.  I was chased home most days home from school.  My friend, Dennis, would hold back Leroy, so I could get a head start running home.  Funny-how I remember their names.  My teacher that year was Mrs. Saunches.  She was the anchor that kept me from being lost at sea.  She gave me so much attention.  A class full of students and I remember her giving me so much one on one-then she told us about a contest.  She would pick 4 students to go with her to the zoo.  The requirements-try your very best.  Not-get an A on the math test or spelling test-but try your best.  That was just what I needed.  I wanted to do my best.  I am not sure if it was for the zoo-or just to go someplace with Mrs. Saunches.  I did try-but I also failed a lot.  I didn’t think there was any way she would pick me-but she did.  That was a turning point for me-I don’t remember going to the zoo.  The only thing I remember about that day was that I was with Mrs. Saunches.  She even took us to her house.  I don’t remember why.  I remember seeing a picture of her and her husband.  That was engrained into my mind.  I didn’t have a dad and to see a picture of a happy couple made an impact on me.

We moved again.  My life did change.  I started to care about school.  I started to care about learning and remembering Mrs. Saunches.  She was only in my life for that short school year-I can’t even remember if it was the whole school year-but she made a difference.  I was never able to tell her what a difference she had made in my life.

During my senior year in high school, we had a new PE teacher.  His name was Mr. Saunches.  I asked him shyly one day if his wife was a teacher too.  He said yes-but I still wasn’t sure it was her.  I graduated and moved on.

Fast forward — to about a six weeks ago.  I saw posted on my Facebook account an invitation to my High School Class Reunion.  It had listed the names of those attending.  I saw Mr. Saunches.  I clicked on his page-and I saw her-Mrs. Saunches.  I knew this was my chance to tell her.  I wrote her a note and asked her to be my friend.  I didn’t expect her to remember me-but she did.  I am sure she doesn’t remember all the things that I remember-those are all normal things for her.  She cares about her students-I can still see that on Facebook.

So-on my birthday-I want to thank Mrs. Saunches.  Thank you for not giving up on me.  Thank you for making a difference.  God placed you in my life at just the time I needed.  Thank you.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2010 1:14 pm

    INCREDIBLE! That is so wonderful that you found her.

    And, Happy Birthday!

  2. October 16, 2010 1:55 pm

    Vonda, if I were a teacher,
    I would treasure the letters
    and notes froms students
    like you, letting them know
    how they had made a difference.
    It is funny the little things that
    we remember. I can tell my
    mom details from outings we
    had together that were so
    special to me and often, she
    doesn’t remember them at all!
    Guess that goes to show you
    that you never know what
    an impressionable mind is
    going to retain. God bless
    all of the Mrs. Saunches-es
    of the world!
    xx Suzanne

  3. October 16, 2010 1:56 pm

    Excuse my sloppy
    spelling…I meant
    notes FROM students,
    of course! And a
    big PS: Happy Birthday!!
    xx S.

  4. October 16, 2010 6:26 pm

    H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y ! ! !

  5. October 16, 2010 8:30 pm

    Happy Birthday! And thanks for the encouraging story. What a great reminder to me…we never know who we may be impacting through the little things we do. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Dawn permalink
    October 25, 2010 12:43 am

    Happy “belated” Birthday first of all. Thank you for writing such a wonderful note about my Aunt Nee’. Unlike most of her students, I know FIRST hand how special of a person she is/has been.

    God truly placed her on this earth to make a difference, not only in the lives of her students, but within her family!

    May the grace of God continue to bless you as you ‘pay forward’ the impact Aunt Nee’ made into your life. You may never know how your life/kindness touches others.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. October 26, 2010 4:41 pm

    Beautiful. Touching. Poignant reminder that fruit may not be visible for a long time, and we may never see it. Thanks. This story made me cry. Made me think of all my bus kids who need a loving face in the sea of disappointment that is their life.

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