The substitute teaching position I accepted the last two and a half months of school warmed my heart and touched my soul. Although it was tough waking up in the morning and getting out my door by seven a. m., once I was in the classroom with all my former students, I had an exceptional time seeing the academic growth that happened since I last taught them four years ago.
When the students were in pre-school through first grade, we had a tradition. The tradition was every Halloween, my husband would come to my classroom and carve a pumpkin for the students to enjoy. They would tell them the shapes they wanted each facial feature to have and then we would turn off the lights and light the candle. The first time my husband came to the school, he worried.
“What are you so anxious about?” I asked.
“What shall I wear?” he pondered. “Everyone will have on a costume but me!”
I told him to just bring his old hat with the moose antlers. The children will get a kick out of it. He had bought the hat years ago when our daughter was in elementary school, and we frequented a local amusement park and pizza parlor called “Bullwinkles,” after the cartoon character. My students thought my husband was funny, and enjoyed watching him carve the pumpkin and show off the final project. After the second time he visited with the moose hat, the kids nickname him, “Mooseman.”
When I retired, we thought Mooseman had made his final appearance at the park across the street from the school. He grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for all the students and their families. The families brought the side dishes and drinks. It was time for school to end once again after substituting with the same kids and families. Ken and I decided Mooseman would make another appearance at the park.
After about an hour of the children playing with all the families present, Mooseman arrived with his meat, buns, and grilling items to once again cook for everyone. The children all shouted with joy.
From across the lawn, they ran towards him shouting, “Mooseman! Mooseman is here! Yeah!”
Everyone had a wonderful time at the park. My husband was touched by the students, how grown up they had become and polite they were. My husband doesn’t know American Sign Language, but he and the children were able to communicate. The next and last day of school, I had the students draw a picture of what happened at the park and write a thank note to Mooseman.
When I showed Ken the cards the students had made for him, he was touched. He read the notes and cried. We both did.