Thursday, 11 May 2017 19:16

School Days in the 1970s - By Ellie Dendahl

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I heard it's Teacher Appreciation Week! This started me thinking (uh oh!) about all the GREAT teachers I had while growing up (mostly) in Santa Fe Public Schools. I can't remember them all but maybe some of my FB friends can help fill in the blank spots.

Kindergarten: Mrs. Wagoner - First Presbyterian Church
First: Maura Taub - Tesuque Elementary
Second: June Alarid - Tesuque Elementary
Third: Kathy Suttle - St. Agatha Catholic School, Columbus, OH
Fourth: Earnestine Vigil, Carole Pomonis, Mrs. Simpson - EJ Martinez
Fifth and Sixth: Janice Pfaff, Sandra Purrington, Gil Torres, Betty Graham, Gary Reynolds (Band teacher) - EJ Martinez.

Betty Graham was the first and last teacher to paddle me. I was a good kid at school. Unfortunately, she had a rule of no gum chewing in her classroom. If three students got caught in one class period chewing gum, they all got paddled. The day I got caught...SIX of us were chewing gum!! I think my friend Julie Kanters was one of the six as well...We each received one good swat from her with a large wooden paddle, all in the privacy of the Principal's office.

Some of the most memorable Jr. High and High School teachers I had include: Egle Germanas, Mary Cornish, Gary Myers, Joe Mier, Helen Foster, Bob Ertmer, Jane Zinn, Steve Dilg, Valeria Allen (awesome SFHS Librarian), Sophie Starnes, Kermit Hill, Mary Barnett, Eva Ortiz, Mr. Lynch, Joyce Montoya, Nancy Mike, Ed Tafoya, Ms. Joley, and Ben Rael.

Thanks for choosing such an honorable and selfless career and giving your time, love, and creativity to so many young minds and hearts!

After thinking about my teachers names...I started to recall some of my favorite "old school" memories, too:

A few of the teachers from Tesuque Elementary School stayed on one year and continued to teach their students - despite the school's doors being closed and locked due to budget constraints (sound familiar?). The local Tesuque church became our schoolhouse. I got to ring the bell once at the end of the school day. One of the teachers lifted me up to grab ahold of the bell's rope. I couldn't ring the bell on my own, but held on, like a little monkey, while this teacher pulled the rope with me clinging to it and bobbing up and down with each "clang" of the bell. During our stint at the church, we played in the cemetery during recess - but were only allowed to play in the grassy area where no headstones (and bodies) were resting. We took field trips to Shidoni, and also to the nearby arroyo to make candles made by pouring hot wax into holes in the sand that each of us designed. There was an occasional movie night held at the elementary school. Movies were projected onto a whitewashed wall on the south-facing exterior wall of the school gym.

Fifth and Sixth grade Math classes were one of my all-time favorite classes. They were self-paced with two long boxes filled with large sections of color-coded cards. We started at the beginning of the color section we "tested into" and worked our way through it to the end and then the beginning of a new color section. It was a great feeling to advance to a new color each time! I secretly idolized Lisa Ice, Christopher Vedeler and Jeff Miller because they were in the Orange and Green sections (advanced math) well ahead of everyone else.

All of our playground equipment was built from good old American steel...not plastic. It was built to last! I loved the monkey bars the most, next to kickball! We played kickball with a red Four-Square ball. Sometimes, when the pitch was just right I could kick the heck out of that ball and make it to second or third base.

Mr. Hill was our 8th grade History teacher at Capshaw. He was a rather quiet and serious fellow. We all respected and obeyed him. Occasionally, instead of sitting in a desk learning about history, he would hold class outside on the dusty football field. Those days, we didn't need a book...we just needed to lift our knees high and march like little ants around the football field until the bell rang for the next class period. He said it was good exercise for the mind. I've forgotten most of his lectures, but I will never forget one of the most valuable homework assignments: To research our family names. We had to come to class prepared to share which country our name originated, and the meaning or reason for our last name. I think I remember Ken Romig and Mikey Baker being in my History class.

8th grade was also the first time I kissed a boy. Well..on the lips, anyway. For some reason the power to the entire school was out for a week or two. The gym was dark and after school everybody who had a boyfriend or girlfriend would walk into the gym and give their sweetheart a big ole French-kiss goodbye. The teachers seemed to look the other way, but some would police the gym and break all the love-birds apart....we were all sorely disappointed when the power problem was repaired.

I have fond memories of many of the teachers that were my actual teachers, and a few who were just cool people to know. Last night was a great trip down memory lane of my SFPS years: Art, Music, Band, After- School sports, school assemblies, Science, Math, Sadie Hawkins, Social Studies, Recess, Current Events, book reports, slumber parties, field trips, cake walks, Homecoming, school festivals, scavenger hunts, science projects, fire drills, bake sales, making suckers to pay for a trip to Europe, Prom, people stimulating our curiosity and encouraging us to question... to explore, and to imagine!

I'm grateful for ALL the people in my life who have taught me how to be a better student, citizen and wiser human being.

Thanks to ALL the teachers of the past and those who are currently holding down a classroom full of students. You deserve a summer vacation!!

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