Our friend Wendy Lang from Decatur takes us back many decades to a Birmingham kindergarten class and her teacher, Ms. Lanning. It’s a trip most of us could take, back to our own Ms. Lanning, someone who touched our young lives in special ways and enriched us far more than they might ever have imagined.
And in such trying times as we now find ourselves, such memories are more precious and sweeter than ever before.
“I remember very well the year I turned five. Daddy took a position at Steel City Olds in Birmingham and we packed up what we needed from our home in Decatur and took a one room apartment for the year. Mother signed me up for kindergarten at South Avondale Baptist Church and from 9 until noon each day, I was totally spellbound by Mrs. Lanning, my teacher.
Mrs. Lanning was remarkable. Every day was a new adventure. We learned French and sang songs and took walks that led us to fun things to do right there in the neighborhood. We went to a farm where I refused to milk the cow and rode a train from way far away right in to the center of town at the biggest most elaborate train station I had ever been privy to see. It was also the only train station I had ever seen.
I remember one evening in May Mother dressed me in my Sunday best with my white gloves, black patent Mary Janes polished to shine and crinoline petticoats that put little squares in my rear end when I sat down. It was a special occasion…..my kindergarten graduation. Mother and Daddy were thrilled and I marched in with my class and took my seat and waited my turn. Mrs. Lanning called my name and I walked up to her and she handed me my diploma curled up like a scroll and tied with a white satin bow. It was a proud moment.
At the reception following the ceremony, she took me in her arms and gave me the biggest hug and I told her that I would never forget her. To this day, my tattered and torn diploma is hung proudly with those from high school, college, graduate school and other schools I have been blessed to attend. But the thought that sticks out to me tonight as I contemplate Teacher Appreciation Week is the real impact that she had on my life.
Years later I went on to become a kindergarten teacher in the basement of the old stone building at Eva School. While the building has been torn down, I will forever cherish the memories of those children who taught me while I was there (yes, you read that right), but even more so, I will always remember the love, the creativity and the imagination that Mrs. Lanning brought to South Avondale Baptist Church Kindergarten and to me. She taught me more than 1,2,3’s and A,B,C’s. She taught me by example and I am proud to have followed her lead.
To everyone who touches the life of a child, you have instilled in them dreams, desires and ambitions and have lead by example. Thank you for giving of your heart to our children. You are appreciated not just this week, but every day of the year”