Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 23, 2010

Back to Kindergarten

I returned home from India a week ago and am scheduled to fly to Bangladesh at the end of next week. As crazy as things can get for me between trips, I did manage to carve out some time this week to drive to South Texas to spend time with my Dad. The six-hour drive to my childhood home gave me the opportunity to spend quality time with God. I am always happy to have undisturbed windshield time to pray and to reflect on all that is happening in my life. And, I am always glad to spend time with my Dad, the man God used to teach me my first lessons about the nations. Before leaving, I called my Dad and asked him if he could arrange a meeting with my Kindergarten teacher. My eighty-something year-old teacher still lives in the small town of Mission where I grew up. I told Dad that I wanted to reunite with my teacher in order to thank her for investing in my life. Dad agreed that this was a good idea and set things up.

This morning I had the wonderful privilege of reuniting with my Kindergarten teacher. Even though I graduated from her class in 1961, I have never forgotten her for two reasons. First, I have remembered her across the years because as a kid I had a tough time pronouncing her name — Mrs. Espericueta. Her name was a mouthful for me as a five-year old kid. In fact, all of my classmates had their own way of pronouncing her name. Second, I have never forgotten her because she was a very kind woman. In those years, hers was the only Kindergarten program available in our small town. Convicted by the lack of educational opportunities for pre-school kids in our dusty little South Texas town, she started a Kindergarten program in 1958. She found a one-room building with broken windows, saw the potential in the property, and converted it into a classroom. She read what was available about teaching, made her own teaching aids, and started teaching kids like me to learn the alphabet and how to count.

I have retained a few very clear memories about my year with Mrs. Espericueta. I distinctly remember crying on the first day of school. I had never been away from my parents or grandparents and was a bit frightened by the whole experience of being in the one-room school house. But, Mrs. Espericueta consoled and calmed me down. I also remember the strangeness of learning the alphabet and numbers. It was strange because, like my classmates, I spoke little English at the time. In fact, Mom would coach me in the afternoons about how to say and ask for things in English. And, I remember graduation day. Mrs. Espericueta made our graduation from Kindergarten a big deal. I’m glad she did because it was a big deal. We all wore little white caps and gowns (I still have the photo of my Kinder graduation). Mrs. Espericueta affirmed that we had accomplished something great. That’s a feeling you never forget.

The best thing about today was getting to say thank you to my first teacher. Every other teacher I ever had built on the foundation she laid in my life. Other teachers taught me how to write words and sentences, but Mrs. Espericueta taught me the letters that are used to write words and sentences. Others taught me how to add and subtract, but my Kindergarten teacher taught me the basics about numbers. She also taught our little student body lessons about how to get along with others, how to play fair, and how to share with others. And, because Mrs. Espericueta was a woman of faith, she also taught us how to pray. I am grateful for Mrs. Espericueta and for the opportunity I had today to hug her and to say thank you. It was nice to go back to Kindergarten today.


Responses

  1. Yesterday, some body shared with me that, she was so happy to gotten a message from her former student! Many people like me, we forgotten easily people’s contributions, in our life’s. So many people were involved with our lifes. We didn’t equipped our selves, automatically within over night, or a few days! Many people helped to learn, and taught their best, in my life. I’ll say, it’s a greater thankful heart, to find and see a kindergarten teacher, whom we left long times ago. Very few people do this. Wonderful!

    Thanks, pretty good post!

    Mortuza.
    Bangladesh

  2. Every blessing on your trip to Bangladesh. Praying the Lord will guide you and give you great wisdom.
    We visited Dhaka many years ago to learn some Bengali at HEED language school.

    Paul & Sarah Beniston

    • Paul and Sarah…

      Thanks for your prayers. Looking forward to a great trip to Bangladesh to visit with our national partners.

      Blessings,
      Omar~


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