During my first 5 years of teaching, I lived and worked in a rural community near our state capitol. Jefferson, the town just off I-5, has a long history but has somehow managed to remain small with one elementary school, one middle school and one high school. In so many ways, working in Jefferson was ideal and even idyllic. My supervisors and principals included good-hearted and smart folks who knew what to do.
My second year of teaching landed me at the middle school as the main teacher of a quirky, fun, and intelligent group of 6th grade students. We had so much fun learning that year, and we shared so much (including colds and the flu). At the time I was learning about folk instruments and music in my personal time and delighted in sharing what I learned with my 6th grade people. I worked hard to make some music on a handsaw and when I could finally plink out a somewhat recognizable tune with my saw and little homemade hammer, I took it to the classroom with me. In those days I was a lot less critical of myself and I think that was part of the joy of teaching during that time.
This group of 6th grade students listened to my tune, showed interest, and we continued to talk about it. One young boy noticed -- when I placed the cardboard sheath back on my saw (an inexpensive hand saw from the hardware store) -- the warning which stated: always wear safety goggles while using saw. He asked me with a mischievous smile, "Hey! Where are your safety goggles, Ms. Eicher?" We all thought this was a great joke and laughed together.
When I arrived the next day for class, the class presented me with my very own safety goggles to wear while playing my saw. I'm sure that when I played for them again, I sported those magnificent goggles! This goggle gift remains one of the most memorable and treasured gifts of my entire life. How versatile! Little did I know how handy those safety goggles would be for so many experiences that were in my future.
I feel like I need to just keep them on all the time these days.