When I was six my uncle brought his fiancé to my house. She was a teacher. She spoke about her profession with such great happiness that I decided at that moment that I’d be a teacher when I grew up. I never let age get in the way of my thoughts. I spent all my young years looking at teachers to see how they conducted themselves and what they did to be more effective.
In college I majored in Spanish with the thought of eventually becoming a Spanish teacher. After I graduated college I bounced around at a few different teaching jobs. Eventually I founded a program dedicated to teaching foreign languages to children in elementary school. The program did well so I became the coordinator for forty schools located throughout the five boroughs of New York City. I went to two schools a day doing foreign language demonstrations with puppets.
I’d have two puppets, one on each hand.
“Buenos dias.” My left hand would say.
“Buenos dias!” My right hand would reply.
Sometimes I would have the puppets sing and the kids loved it.
One time I was up in Harlem teaching African American children. When I went into the room all the children were completely still and silent. Their hands were folded. Their shirts were pressed. The boys were wearing ties. Everyone was behaving. I think they had been warned ahead of time but they were all so scared that they had a hard time pronouncing the words for the lesson. Finally, one of the boys spoke up and said the word correctly and I was so excited I kissed his cheek and the whole class erupted in cheers.
Throughout my career I was a teacher’s assistant, a teacher, a teacher’s teacher, an assistant principal and a principal. One Labor Day I was at the Concord Hotel in the Catskills for a ‘singles weekend.’ It was Sunday morning and they had put all the breakfast tables together. I was sitting at one of the tables talking about the riots against the Vietnam War when a man sat down at the other end of the table. I continued speaking and when I finished he looked at me.
“Are you a New York City school teacher?” He asked.
“Why yes I am.”
“I like the way you speak.” He said with a smirk. “Not the New York City part, the teacher part.”
Shortly after that we got married and we were together for over forty years!
Goose Chronicles Outtakes:
“How many languages do you speak?”
“Four – English, Spanish, Portuguese and French." Helene said. "What about you?”
“Keep your sense of humor and find someone to love. Also, try to speak well of your fellow man.”
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