Miss Boyle (not her real name) was my teacher in 5th grade. This was the year I was first aware of student teachers. All of a sudden, there were several different teachers in my classroom. They would come and go. Each time, I learned something new and different. There were special tests, too. The tests were what Inow call “multiple guess,” and were really fun. Many of them had to do with reading comprehension. I scored very high on them.
All of a sudden, arithmetic was “clicking” for me, too. Social studies involved reading, so I enjoyed it, and absorbed it, finding places in what I called the “matrix” of my mind that made it easy to recall. Everything up until now had been basically memorization of facts. Now the facts were beginning to relate in ways I found very exciting.
I was able to figure out what research was about, and to do some on a very simple level. That was exciting, too. This boosted my self-confidence which I needed desperately because my social life wasn’t very good.
Stefan Ketel (not his real name) became my first boyfriend. We remained special friends until about 11th grade. We never “went out” but we cared about each other. Stefan went into the military. I lost contact with him for years.
Somehow I managed to get through the social maze of 5th grade. Being non-Jewish, I was excluded from many of the functions. The up-side of that was all the Jewish holidays that we ended up with Coca-cola parties at school because half of the student body wasn’t there. But that didn’t make up for not being included in social functions that included my friends – who were all Jewish, but weren’t allowed to invite the Gentile members of the class.
So school became a very lonely business. My parents being divorced didn’t help, either. In that day and time it made me extremely different. With no father in my home, other parents viewed my mother and me rather suspiciously.
Somehow I managed to make it through 5th grade. Sixth – well sixth got worse very fast.