There are some acts of generosity that can’t be forgotten. I’m not sure what memories cover the fringes of your life. Some of them come to life with the passage of time. For me, it was in the fourth grade.
I was just a poor kid from the other side of the tracks. Literally. I don’t think my trajectory looked particularly grand. I was a quiet kid, and I showed up at school wearing worn-out hand-me-downs. My mom had six kids to raise all on her own, so I suspect that if my hair was combed it was a minor miracle.
For my own part, I didn’t have any dreams of my own. I was just a kid riding a bus to take fourth grade math and wondering when summer vacation would show up again.
But then Mrs. Pigg entered my world. She must’ve been quite young then—although everyone seems old when you are 9 or 10 years old. I’m guessing she must’ve been teaching just a few years, and part of that youthful energy provoked her to hold a class election.
Now, when I looked around that room we were no group of fourth grade slouches. So many clean-cut kids whom the sorrows of the world had not yet touched.
Worst of all, my class had Stephanie Naylor. She was the envy of the fourth grade—blond, tall, smart, sharply dressed. The class seemed to orbit around her. Stephanie ran for class president.
No way was I running. But Mrs. Pigg…well, she asked me—maybe told me—to run. At that age, when a teacher asked you to do something, you did it. Plus, Mrs. Pigg was the cutest teacher in the fourth grade (even if she did have that name).
So I ran…against Stephanie Naylor.
To run for class president meant that you had to stand up and deliver a speech. I still remember that speech all these years later. I’m sure I made promises I couldn’t keep (like seven periods of recess). When it came down to a vote, we had to put our heads down and put a thumbs up.
The vote came down even, split along party lines—guys versus the girls. So we had to do a revote. I confess I peeked when the revote occurred and when my name came up Stephanie Naylor changed her vote to me. I was the fourth grade class president.
Not much stands out about my nine-month reign. There were no ticker tape parades, but something small changed within me. Mrs. Pigg believed in me (and I guess Stephanie Naylor did too). For the first time I was a leader. It took someone else seeing me as a leader first before I could see it.
It was a great gift Mrs. Pigg gave to me. Do you remember some of the greatest gifts you’ve been given? Share the story here.
Photo by Megan Soule on Unsplash
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Published October 30, 2020