Every year as August fades into September I can’t help but think about an incident from the very distant past: my entrance into the third grade.

 When I was growing up we’d get a postcard in the mail every year just before school started, telling us who our teacher was going to be for the coming year. It cost about three cents to mail a postcard back then, so I guess the school figured it was a good use of their funds. When that fateful day arrived it did not bring the news I was hoping to hear. I had been assigned to Mrs. Black’s classroom. Word on the playground was that Mrs. Black was a “mean teacher.” I just knew it was gonna be bad.

 I remember running to the backyard behind the garage so I could be alone to cry my little eight-year-old eyes out. I guess I didn’t consider the fact that my wailing tantrum could have been heard throughout the neighborhood. Such sessions always seem so helpful and yet never change anything at all.

 But that’s not the worst thing I did in regards to my upcoming tour in Mrs. Black’s classroom. Oh no! I actually went to school on the first day (or so my mother has told me), walked right up to Mrs. Black and said, “I told my mother if I got you for a teacher I was going to kill myself.” I’m sure this is what every teacher loves to hear as she greets the sweet little faces on the first day of a new year.

 Once I declared my disdain and suicidal thoughts to Mrs. Black I’m sure she was thinking, “Well then what are you doing here because clearly you aren’t dead?” but she took a much kinder, gentler approach. She said, “Well, Nancy, I might not like you either.” Obviously this Mrs. Black was a seasoned professional.

 As my mother tells the story I went back to Mrs. Black a few weeks later and said, “You know you might not be so bad after all.” I’m sure she and my mom had some great laughs over the phone that year.

 It’s funny though; you know what I remember about Mrs. Black? She was one of my favorite teachers. She was strict, but she was also kind and a great teacher. Even without my mother’s help I can remember one of the last days of school sitting inside the classroom during recess catching up on a reading assignment I had slacked off on. What I don’t recall is being at all bitter about having to stay inside, probably because I got to spend more time with Mrs. Black, who really was pretty cool after all.