Thank you, Miss Wornoski
I love to read.
It started very early.
Miss Wornoski taught me.
I don't remember the mechanics of learning.
Only the sudden explosion of knowledge that came with recognizing series of letters strung together.
Miss Wornoski had a list of words on a large flip chart.
And each of us in the class was taken, publicly, through it.
I remember her pointing to each word with a long, slender stick and the
victim participant having to then read it out.
A word about the stick. It was about three feet long, with a soft, squishy, plastic, cone-shaped tip.
Tons of fun to play with when the teacher wasn't in the room.
Ahem . . .
Day by day, she worked her way around the room.
Closer and closer to me.
Who would have guessed that panic was one of the subjects taught in the first grade?
Well, it was.
If I would have studied the chart, I would have realized that I could read every word on it.
But I didn't.
Thus started a pattern in my life that has served me far too well.
But I digress . . .
Finally, it was my turn.
Miss Wornoski looked at me. “Diane.”
Everything I had ever known simply . . . fled.
Taking my blood and body temperature with it.
A now-frozen lump, I turned slowly and stared at her.
“Its your turn, dear,” she said softly.
Her words might as well have been: Ready! Aim! Fire!
I was about to die.
The pointer was raised.
I watched as it moved.
Tapped on the first word.
“And,” I said, shakily.
Next. Ooh, a toughie.
And so it went.
Pointer . . . pointed.
I said the word.
Pointer moved on.
I was doing it!
The panic started to ebb.
With only one slight hesitation, on the unbelievably difficult word, 'house', I was done.
Faster than anyone.
Miss Wornoski smiled. “Very well done, Diane,” she said.
I had done it!
Celebrations were in order.
“Diane, sit down.”
She handed me my first. Real. Book. “Here, dear, read this,” she said.
And she moved on to the next student.
I stared at the book she had given me.
The Little White House.
There was a picture of a boy riding a horse on the cover.
We were instant friends.
I opened it and, for the first time began to read a story to myself.
Riveting tales of Tom, Betty and Susan as they:
- Helped their parents
- Got presents
- Rode Pony
- Played with Flip
The magic had begun.
There is a codicil . . .
My Husby and I were on a book-signing tour through the US.
We stopped at a tiny little restaurant in tiny-er Dell, Montana, called the Calf-A.
Exceptional food, especially the roast beef.
And pie to die for.
Sorry. Moving on . . .
The restaurant was housed in what had been the little country school.
The blackboards and even some of the pictures and furniture were still there.
On a shelf was a stack of old text books.
While waiting for my order, I wandered over and looked at them.
And there, right in the middle was my book.
My first book.
Just as I remembered it.
I dragged it out and hurried back to our table.
“Look!” I shoved it under my Husby's nose. “Look! It's my first book!
I sat down and opened the cover.
Instantly, I was transported back to my sunny classroom at Milk River Elementary.
To my seat beside the windows.
Right in front of the teacher's desk.
I could smell the chalk dust.
And see Miss Wornoski taking yet another student through her chart of words.
I had nearly read The Little White House through by the time our meal arrived.
Not a statement on how long it took to be served.
But rather on how quickly I could now read.
Thank you, Miss Wornoski.
You changed my life.