If you’re teaching this year, I raise my glass tonight to YOU.

Let’s raise a glass in honor of the moms and dads who have been forced to become homeschool teachers.
And let’s raise a glass to the creative teachers who are adapting to teach online.

Special local shout outs –
To Dina Stern, who has a new job as a 5th grade teacher!
To Samantha Marcon, a recent Cal Poly grad who’s teaching history at Redondo Union.

This blog is about TEACHERS and I hope it reminds you of ones you’ve loved.

Here are my two favorites. Mrs. Bartlett, my first grade teacher, was an older woman with arms that flapped as she wrote on the chalkboard. I loved her arms. They were like wings and she wrapped one around me as I read my “Janet & Mark” stories to her. She gave me Whoppers when I read the pages well.

This was 1973 and teachers were allowed to hug kids and hold their hands as they lined up after recess. Mrs. Bartlett was a wonderful teacher who was kind and encouraging and shared her love of books.

The teacher that had the most impact on my life, of course, was my mom.

“Mrs. Bain” was a teacher for over 35 years and LOVED it. Her first job was teaching 18 6th graders near Princeton, New Jersey where my dad was in graduate school. 18 was a typical class size in a public school then. Her last classroom was in Oxnard, California where she taught 30 fifth graders from diverse backgrounds. She loved ALL kids and worked countless hours to find the right books to motivate a kid who didn’t like to read.

My mom’s lessons were creative and she had high expectations for her students.

Her classroom was colorful, and so was she.

Before school started, she’d spend hours setting up Room 309. When I was a kid, she enlisted my help. So my brother and I hung yellow paper on the bulletin boards and stapled corrugated blue borders around the edges. I’d organize her Reading Nook and go through the paperbacks, wondering who was reading my old Judy Blume books. I complained about helping, because she was “making us do it,” but when I became a teacher, I loved decorating my classroom.

By the time school started, Mrs.Bain’s classroom was an organized showplace, set up for maximum learning. She looked ready too. My mom sported a Coppertone tan from hours playing tennis or reading by the pool while my brother and I took swimming lessons. Her tan was part of her Back to School look. Her outfit from Bullock’s was trendy and coordinated.

No cutesy sweater with apples and pencils on it.


I wonder what my mom would say about the way school is happening now.  She lost her battle to cancer 16 months ago, so I can’t ask.

My daughter began her senior year of high school this week at the dining room table. To mark the occasion, I hung silver streamers over the doorway and red crepe paper garland on her chair.

It looked pathetic.
She forced a smile for the annual First Day Photo.

After a few Zoom classes in plaid jammies and a hoodie, she had a break. I thought she’d get dressed during the “passing period.”
How sad that the only person she’s passing in the halls is me.
So we chatted.
“Mom, you realize there’s a tray of alcohol in the background of my Zoom calls.”
I shook my head.
So much for my classroom set-up in the dining room.

I wish my mom was here to talk about the way school is now. She might have words of wisdom to share.

It’s Friday night after the first week of school. So, I’ll turn to that tray in the dining room. I’ll make a drink in my mom’s honor.  Maybe a Honey Deuce. (vodka, lemonade, Chambord, crushed ice–with a honeydew melon ball garnish) It’s the official drink of the US Open, the tennis tournament happening next week. My mom loved watching tennis, even after her own playing days were done.

So, here we are School Year 2020-2021.

I’ll make a toast to TEACHERS.
To the ones like Mrs. Bartlett and Mrs. Bain.
And to the ones who are just starting out–including the moms and dads who are stepping up.

CHEERS to a new year.