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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

6th Grade

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 3/4/2024
Occurred: 9/7/1961
Posted: 10/14/2022
Page Views: 577
Topics: #Autobiography #Education #Forson
The year I met one of the most influential people to come into my life.
School:Cathedral Parish School
Teacher:Mrs. Kaye Forson

During my elementary and high school careers, I had both nuns and what they called "lay" teachers (as in layperson, or non-cleric). Of the three non-nuns, Mrs. Howe and Mrs. Forson tie for most influential in my personal growth. I'd had Mrs. Howe for parts of three school years; I was to have Mrs. Forson for parts of three as well. However, as I arrived for my first day of sixth grade, I had no way of knowing that.

The first thing I liked about Mrs. Forson was that she didn't seem pissed off at everything, which had been my exerience with most of the nuns I'd met so far. (I suppose it's possible that it was me who'd pissed them off. BUt, still.) The next thing I liked abouot her was her willingness to share stories from her life, during much of which she'd been a "social worker", a job title I'd never heard before.

As a social worker in Mississippi, she had visited the swampland homes of many "Nigra" families, and she described their extreme poverty in heartbreaking terms. Among others, she described a family whose babies had grown into children who'd never learned to walk, I think from some dietary inadequacy. Instead, they crawled everywhere on their hands and knees, which had developed protective pads, like on a dog's paws.

I was told that story 60 years ago, and I still carry that image in my head.

In fifth grade, I had tried unsuccessfuly to sell Mrs. Howe's "extra credit" technique of encouraging me to write. However, Mrs. Forson was intrigued by the idea, with the caviat that extra credit could not be used in place of any regular assignments.