Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Remembering Mrs. Wilson . . .

In 1970, my family moved across town and my sisters and I had to change schools.
I was a High School junior, so the transition meant that I left friends whom I had known for most of my life. I had also worked as a junior staffer on the prior school’s yearbook, aiming for an editorship in 3 years. When I moved, I thought I had to give up that dream. On the second day of school, my sister and I were in Study Hall before school and the class had a wall of windows that overlooked the Library. The Librarian looked right at me on that morning and motioned with her finger to come in and see her. I told the Study Hall monitor and went in. Her name was Miss. Walker and my first thought was that she knew my last name (also Walker) and had selected me based on that. No, she said she liked my demeanor and the fact that I was actually reading a book, while the other kids were talking, scribbling notes or cutting up. “How would you like to work in the library?” she asked. “Oh, you don’t want me,” I said. “You want my sister. She worked in the Library at Atkins Junior High for 3 years. We’ve just moved to this side of town.” “I’d rather work in the principal’s office. I did that at Monterey,” I added. “Well,” she said, “Go in and see Mrs. Fuller. She works with Mr. Gooch. Tell her Helen Walker sent you. Now, ask your sister to come see me.” My sister DID work in the library every year of her three years in High School. I worked in the Principal’s office half of the year. But I digress. When we moved to Coronado, I registered for Yearbook again. I told the sponsor, Mrs. Marjorie Wilson that I had edited the Sophomore section at my old High School. She told me that she could allow me to edit the Sophomore section again, to “prove myself.” So, I did. I enjoyed working with the younger kids. As an older sister, it came second nature to me. With my sister in that class, it was easy to get to know the kids and earn their trust. I did a wonderful job managing the Sophomore section and, at the end of the year, when Mrs. Wilson announced the editors for 1971-72, she called out the name of another girl in the class AND me. We would be co-editors for the new school year. I was ecstatic! I would be yearbook editor after all! Mrs. Wilson was a kind woman who gave a new kid a chance. She was always interested in our personal lives, too. She provided lots of counseling on matters related to school, love and home life. (I remember getting some sage advice from her regarding a boy I was interested in!) She was like a second mom to me. She was wise, compassionate and firm, which was necessary to keep us on deadline! My dad called the Publications office when my little brother was born and she sent someone down to English Class to tell me that I had a new baby brother! Mrs. Wilson passed away last month at the wonderful age of 89. She was surrounded by her family and her memorial page has wonderful remembrances from students all over the US. (One former student is now an anchor on Network TV, Scott Pelley. I remember Scott as one of the photographers who helped us fill out our yearbook sections. He was a nice kid!) I remember Mrs. Wilson’s kindness, her grace and her wonderful way of motivating and inspiring a bunch of teenagers to win awards year after year in communications. We could have easily gone to the movies, gone out and gotten drunk or other assorted things that teenagers do. I learned about commitment, about follow-through, about deadlines and about taking pride in a project with a long lead time. (We started work on the yearbook before school started in the Fall and didn’t deliver it until after graduation in the Spring.) Many of the skills I learned from Mrs. Wilson have helped me manage marketing brands in Corporate America AND create websites for my husband and myself now. Thanks, Mrs. Wilson. I know you are managing editor for Heaven's most popular magazine! As you reflect on your success today, thank a teacher!