My husband doesn't understand Facebook -- the social networking Web site that allows one to connect with almost anyone and everyone. He has no interest in it and doesn't see why I love it so.
"Isn't there one person in the world whom you're interested in, one person you'd like to contact, to check on and to see what they are doing now?" I asked.
He put down his paper and looked me in the eye.
"Anyone?" I asked, encouraged.
He hesitated and then responded, thoughtfully, "Nope," before picking up his paper again.
Perhaps that's because he never had a Mrs. Faires. Thanks to the magic of Facebook I've reconnected with her. Mrs. Faires was one of the best teachers I've ever had. And I was her very favorite student. I knew I was because she put my picture on the top of her door; she took a personal interest in me; she loaned me books; she showed off my projects to students studying to be teachers at the local college; she encouraged me to write, and she sent me cards and letters affixed with stickers, some of which I still have today.
Mrs. Faires turned what could have been an awkward fifth grade year for this skinny girl with braces into a magical time -- a time free of worries about boys, peer pressure from other girls and the fact that I can't sing a lick.
In fact, the best part of fifth grade, and I think all my former classmates would agree, were Fridays. Each Friday, Mrs. Faires would pull out her record player and albums and pass out folders with the lyrics to a variety of songs, and we would sing -- loudly and happily.
I had lunch with Mrs. Faires recently -- almost 30 years later -- and I must confess, though I was extremely delighted to see her, I couldn't help but debate whether to call her by her first name or last name. Anyway, she confided in me that since she's been on Facebook, she's had many a student recall those Friday "fun music" sing-a-longs.
During Austell's flood this fall, one former student remembered singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" during Mrs. Faires' class. Another said her husband started whistling "Tom Dooley," and she surprised him by singing every word. During our lunch, I admitted to her that I've impressed my children with my ability to sing every word of "Purple People Eater" and "The Unicorn Song." Well, impressed or perplexed one!
I remember once my fifth grade class talked Mrs. Faires into playing Pink Floyd's "Another brick in the wall." When we got to the "we don't need no education" part, Mrs. Faires pulled the plug. She loved and appreciated music but valued education more.
But most of all, she valued her students -- each and every one. I learned through Facebook that every student Mrs. Faires taught felt they were her favorite. As we lunched, I told her what a wonderful thing that was. While many teachers show favoritism, it's very few who show it to each and every single student in her class and mean it.
And, in case you were wondering, I did try calling her by her first name, Gayle. And when I told my 8-year-old son about it, he said, "You mean you called her by her first name? I would be scared!"
But, the truth is, no matter which name I chose, I am thrilled to be able to now call her not only my teacher, but my friend.
Even 30 years later, teachers still make the difference. Thank you, Mrs. Faires