When I was in third grade my school district balanced uneven class sizes by creating a combined class: eight 4th-graders, eight 3rd -graders, and eight 1st-graders. The teacher they hired for the class, Flora Dickie, had years of experience in a rural one-room school and I imagine the prospect of three different grades in one classroom didn’t faze her at all. It was during that year, Mrs. Dickie gave me a most wonderful gift . . . the love of books.
We lived in a small town (population less than 2000) and the local public library was a tiny windowless room in the dank basement of the closed movie theater. There were probably less than a thousand books on the shelves and only a handful for children. I had already checked out all of them.
So each Wednesday after school, Mrs. Dickie drove one of us students 12 miles away to the beautiful Red Wing Minnesota Carnegie Lawther Public Library, where she pointed out books she thought would interest us personally. It was there I first encountered Dr. Seuss. And as I consumed On Beyond Zebra and To Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo I fell in love with words and poetry and humor and imagination.
So here’s to all the Mrs. Dickies in the world who open doors for students, recognizing gifts and talents and passing on their own passion for learning. The impact of your deeds lasts a lifetime . . . and beyond, as we too give to those we teach and love.