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 Category:  Essay Non-Fiction
  Posted: March 10, 2019      Views: 327
Prologue Prologue Prologue 1 2... 

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My life is filled with the two most delightful commodities on the planet: music and children. I have seventy-three students, ages five to seventy-five, whose houses I visit each week for voice, flute, and/or piano lessons. And before this wonderful c - more...

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Prologue of the book Lessons in the Key of Life
How this wonderful journey got underway
"Overture" by Rachelle Allen

I invented my job--sort of. I'm an itinerant voice, flute, and piano teacher with seventy-three stops to make in a week. And although that sounds, even to me, rather over-the-top, the lesson-to-lesson pace of it, broken down into thirty-minute increments over six days, is not really all that taxing. In fact, it's as enjoyable as life gets. I especially like that no two days are ever the same. Still, that's not to say that mine is a stress-free existence. Some of the houses and families I visit would give The Munsters a moment's pause. But, overall, it's fun and fulfilling and fits my personality with the perfection of a Vera Wang gown.

I remember with crystal clarity the day I "became" a teacher, and it had nothing at all to do with my graduation date. I was twenty-five, married, pregnant, and volunteering in a private kindergarten, working with a Master Teacher named Ann who'd begun her career the year I was born.

Among her wards in this class of eight boys and two girls was five-year-old Jesse, doe-eyed, brilliant, and full of life. He was also done being good every day at 11 a.m. It certainly wasn't that he wanted to misbehave or act out on a daily basis; he was simply "young" for his chronological age and, more than likely, in need of a nap.

He loved the patriarch of our class's mouse family, a burly, active rodent named "Big Brownie." The minute we announced each day, "It's Free Time," Jesse was at the dry aquarium scooping his friend up for another shared frolic. One hard-and-fast rule in the room, though, was No Mice In The Wooden Block Corner. (Solid planks of wood up high versus small, furry, nearly weightless bodies below seemed a situation well worth avoiding.)

On this day, during Free Time, the class was busy with easel drawings, board games and wooden block skyscrapers when, as occurred on a daily basis, one of the elaborate block creations came careening to the floor. This time, though, the crash was followed by a chilling scream from Jesse. Ann and I watched as he ran toward us, carrying a furry lump on his outstretched hand. "I don't want to play with Big Brownie anymore!" he wailed. "He doesn't move!" Teeny beads of blood formed at the corner of one side of Brownie's mouth, and his little rib cage was rising and falling at lightning speed.

"We're going to put him in his house for a while," I told Jesse. "But he'll be fine." Ann took me aside and said, "I don't think you should have said that, Rachelle. Now when Big Brownie dies, Jesse is going to be even more upset."

"Ann," I said. "I grew up in the country, in a house surrounded by fifty-two acres of fields. One thing I know for sure is that if you don't kill a rodent on contact, it springs back to life in no time." And sure enough, by morning's end, Big Brownie was running around full speed on his little exercise wheel.

But, in the meantime, kind-hearted, deep Jesse was out of his skin with the realization of what he'd done. He understood, all on his own, that his disobeying the rule had brought pain and fear to his beloved friend. With unbridled fury, he took one arm and swiped it the length of a long shelf of toys, catapulting them in every direction as his classmates ran for cover. He then performed a like maneuver on the shelf below.

"Rachelle, could you please take over the class?" Ann asked. She put a firm, gentle hand on each of her beloved Jesse's shoulders and headed him toward the book corner while the rest of the class and I restored order to our room. Ann lay on her stomach with Jessie in the Book Corner, her arm around his waist, his head nestled into her collarbone. And there they stayed, reading book after book until this sweet boy, with the dearest of hearts and the poor judgment to which all children are entitled, was able to re-calibrate.

I watched with awe and realized, at once, that I had been given the gift of a lifetime to be able to witness something this special. I knew that, in the hands of a lesser teacher, this darling child's entire attitude toward school could have been changed forever. A lesser teacher would have harangued him in a sharp voice. "Jesse! Isn't it bad enough that you nearly killed Big Brownie by having him in the Block Corner when you knew you weren't supposed to? Now you're going to have a tantrum and make a mess of our room? What's wrong with you? Why are you behaving so badly? You go sit in the Time Out Chair until you can settle down!"

But Ann knew better. She knew this child, and she loved him, warts and all. So he went home that day with his self-esteem intact because she always practiced what she preached - the most sacred lesson I ever learned and the one I've lived by ever since:

The children who "deserve" your love the least are the ones who need it the most.
(And it applies to grown-ups, too


The book continues with A New York State of Mind. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
I have learned a lifetime of valuable lessons by being a teacher. In this book, I share one lesson per chapter.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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