Warm, fuzzy from former teacher’s praise

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 11, 2015

She sat between her son and daughter-in-law. I recognized her immediately and put out my hand to shake hers. Wow, she has hardly changed since the last time I saw her, I thought.

“Hi, I’m Nancy, Nancy Folmar,” I said, knowing she was more likely to recognize me by my maiden name.

“Yes,” she said. “You write for the paper. I enjoy reading it.”

I thanked her, talked with her and with her family for a few more minutes before returning to my seat in the Dixon Center. All the way back to that seat, I was smiling, big smiling, inside and out.

Little did this sweet, retired teacher know she made my night, heck she made my entire week. When I was in elementary school, most all the parents hoped their children landed in her classroom.

She taught first grade when I started my educational journey at Opp Elementary School. I wasn’t in her room, and while I had a wonderful teacher whom I loved, I always kind of thought the kids in her class were lucky.

What I remember most is that she had the kindest smile. Sometimes when the first graders lined up in the hall to go onto the playground, she was there keeping an eye on us. Always she smiled, even when she was reminding us to stay in line and keep our hands to ourselves.

Later, my brothers were in her class and maybe even a sister or two. I recall her being a positive influence during my years in elementary school, even though she was never my teacher. I thought about that when I saw her Friday night and wondered if she realizes how many lives she touched.

I guess when you are a kid, there is a bit of hero worship that goes on when it comes to adults who influence your life. That, I think, is why what she said to me made my heart so happy.

There was this woman that represented so much goodness to me and she was complimenting me on my writing. It was like getting some kind of amazing award and recognition.

I get a similar feeling when someone, a former teacher, editor, a good friend I admire, a family member who means a lot to me, even strangers say they enjoyed what I wrote. I’m never quite sure what to say because “thank you” seems so inadequate to express how I feel. I repress my need to hug them to pieces — might seem a bit too needy. When it comes to their work, writers can be a little on the needy side sometimes.

Friday night I mumbled through a thank you to the compliment from this wonderful teacher. I didn’t tell her how much it meant to me or how much I’ve always admired her. Why we don’t tell people things like that is a mystery isn’t it?

Nope, I simply went back to my seat with this nice feeling and enjoyed the rest of the concert. (I also thought it was neat she was there to hear “Eagles” music. So, I guess in addition to being a great teacher, she is a pretty cool person).

Today as I sat down to write this column, I remembered the experience of seeing this teacher again. I decided the perfect way to let her know how much I respect her, and appreciate what she gave to her students, and to me by telling she likes what I write, is to say it, well, in writing.

So, Mrs. Dorothy (Dot) Powell, from me and from every student blessed to sit in your classroom, thank you.