In summers, during most of high school and college, I worked in a summer camp. My assignment was, pretty much, to protect and entertain a cottage full of three-to-five-year-olds. It was such fun that I decided I’d like to teach children as a career.
After graduating from the university, our certificates covered: nursery, kindergarten, and grades 1-8.
As luck would have it, before graduation I was hired to teach in my hometown. The year was 1969, a year of many problems and few jobs. So this was a blessing.
All summer I visited the assigned room. Every tiny desk and chair was Cloroxed. Posters, poems, and story book characters were hung all over the walls. Name tags with each child’s picture, as well as stickers, were on the tables. The bulletin boards had apples with the children’s’ names and pictures to welcome in the new students.
I was so beyond excited to formally meet my first students. On the first day of school, I dressed up in a new dress and new shoes, probably like every child coming! Of course, two doses of Pepto Bismol were needed with all the nervousness.
At last the bell rang. The other kindergarten teacher, Millie, who had been there many years, and I shared the back entrance door. Children were flowing into Millie’s class. But not one child came my way. I waited and waited until the last bell rang. All the parents were gone, and all the children were in Millie’s class! Timidly, I knocked on Millie’s door and asked if she had extra students. She went over her list, said no, and indicated she didn’t appreciate the interruption.
Quietly, I walked into the principal’s office. The first day of school is a disaster for the principal. She said, “Miss Dogali, what are you doing here?” Explaining that not one child had come to class was difficult.
The secretary ran into my room to see, but she could not find a single child either.
No one knew what had happened. There were supposed to be 25 students in the AM class, lunch break, then 25 students in the PM class.
They sent me back to the room in case anyone came by. No one did.
The P.E. teacher didn’t have anything planned for the morning, so he came to the classroom and told me stories about the school.
By afternoon, it was discovered what had happened. Cards were sent out the previous June assigning children to their sessions. Half started in the AM session then switched to the PM session mid-year. However, the secretary’s daughter was getting married that spring. The secretary was all flustered, and she managed to assign all 50 children to the afternoon class!
It was a mess, and it took many phone calls, some angry mothers, and two weeks before it was straightened out.
But both classes were filled with delightful children. We had a joyful year.