When the intercom buzzed in our 1st grade classroom a voice summoned our teacher Mrs. Lynch to the principal’s office. Of course we all got a great big giggle out of this before we were shushed and told to take out our penmanship sheets and practice our writing skills SILENTLY until she returned.

Mrs. Connelly, the 1st grade teacher in the adjoining classroom was asked to monitor us. We traced our capital A’s and our small a’s, our B’s, C’s and D’s. The majority of us probably made it all the way to ‘S’ before the 6-year-old natives started getting restless. Since I already had a penchant for talkativeness (according to my recent progress report) I did not disappoint.

Without any concern for consequences I headed to the front of the classroom to entertain the troops.

It was holiday season so I made up a story about Santa Claus visiting a very poor neighborhood where there were no chimneys and many families could not even afford a small Christmas tree. My Santa had to be very resourceful and improvise on both his entrance (the back alley) and location of the presents (the kitchen sink and a laundry basket). My audience seemed captivated so it spurred me on to add a small segment about Prancer needing to poop.

The class roared!

That’s just about when I noticed Mrs. Connelly’s index finger signaling me with that universal gesture to SIT BACK DOWN IN MY SEAT immediately!

As I  started heading back to my desk, Mrs. Lynch strolled back into the classroom and promptly turned me around and shooed me back to the front of the room.

“Lisa, won’t you please finish your story for us?” she asked in her perfect teacher voice.

She took a seat at my little desk while I happily wrapped up.

Once the reindeer had completed their potty breaks having followed Prancer’s lead, I had Santa successfully deliver all the special gifts in his sleigh. Mrs. Lynch began clapping and asked the class to join her in a round of applause for me.

I remember exactly how I felt that day.

If I translated those little girl emotions from long ago into grown-up terms today it would be exhilarated, filled, confident and joyful!!

Mrs. Lynch had numerous options that winter morning when she found me commandeering her classroom.

She could have chastised me for having gotten out of my seat without permission. She could have penalized me for not completing my assignment. She could have made an example of me in front of my classmates. Instead, Mrs. Lynch encouraged what other future educators would ultimately discourage. She applauded my imagination, cheered my creativity and helped me believe that my talkativeness could be molded into a strength as opposed to a weakness.

Her wisdom that day may have altered the trajectory of my life.

Most of the work I do now and all the work I love involves using my words both verbal and written.

I was one of the lucky ones. I had for a teacher the perfect combination of magician, fairy godmother and friend.

I had Mrs. Lynch!

Lisa Leshaw

Lisa Leshaw has worked as a mental health professional for the past 31 years. She currently conducts Parenting Skills Workshops, Group Counseling for Blended Families and Empowerment Circles for Women. As a consultant, Lisa travels throughout teaching Communication and Listening Skills, Behavioral Management Techniques and Motivational Strategies. To de-stress she performs in children's theatre and plays piano whenever requested. She is hoping to either write the next memorable musical composition or Great American Novel!