I found my mind wandering yesterday, (which is code for I was doing a meaningless task that couldn't hold my attention), straying back to the days of elementary school. Fifth grade to be exact, Sister Regina's class. Now you have to understand the challenges of a fifth grade teacher, even in a parochial school. The boys are just beginning to think about girls, it was the 60's so times were a bit unstable, the music that influenced us had overtones of rebellion, and we had little to no maturity. Sister Regina had her work cut out for her for sure. I think the school also realized what a tumultuous time this was as well, as they had our classroom removed from the school building to the basement of the church. Set apart from all the other children, we could experience our growing challenges without influencing the rest of the student body.
Well despite these obvious challenges, Sister Regina managed to reach us. She certainly was heaven sent, as most of our Nuns to date had little or no patience for anything but diligent study. Anything outside the assigned task was completely forboden! We had no room to dream or stretch our imagination, we had reading, writing, math, phonics, and religion to learn. There was absolutely no time for nonsense. This is where Sister Regina had a different tack. While she was no pushover, she read to us and encouraged our adventurous spirits. We read Call of the Wild, Ole Yeller, and countless classics that held our attention because the story plots involved adventure. Trust me this was miles departed from our previous curriculum. She allowed us to dream and use out imaginations, in fact she encouraged it!
Now Sister Regina had a love of science, and a hint of discipline. This was evident by her punishment structure for those who chose to disrupt the class. We were assigned to write the glossary in the back of the science book, as punishment for behavior she disapproved of. Sadly, I can still to this day recite that glossary from memory, as copying it appeared to be one of my favorite pass times. She also had a two by four she named "The Board of Education" which was used strictly for discouragement of extremely bad behavior. Sadly, it's demise was met while crossing my backside as it's grain was not as strong as Sister Regina's home run swing, nor my rock hard will. In spite of our discipline challenges, I survived fifth grade, grew from it, and now in my more mature years, appreciated it.
Sister Regina had an impact, and I don't mean her disciplinary measures. As young men encouraged to dream by her influence, we had some audacious plans. We designed and began construction on a raft we were going to set sail upon, to live out the adventures we had dreamed in our minds. We all had a purpose on this grand trip, because we had imagined it down to the last detail; and although the trip never came to fruition, it gave us purpose and direction. As part of that crew, who do you think the last person we could have, or would have invited to join our dream trip would be? Well you might be surprised to learn we had included Sister Regina in our adventure, as she was invited to share and she never discouraged our dream. Looking back it seems a little out of place for twelve year old boys to want their disciplinarian type teacher, dressed in a habit, to join them on their grand adventure; but for some reason it just seemed mandatory that the person who inspired us to dream be included on the voyage. There in lies the reason we should inspire others to dream, and build on those goals!