Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lavona Richardson's life history: Teaching children


Just before graduating from BYU in August 1958  I sent in an application to teach at the Mesa Public Schools in Mesa, Arizona.  I am happy that I had a good resume and was hired without even having an interview.  I was hired to teach second grade at the Edison School located at 545 North Horne in Mesa.  I graduated from BYU just a short time before the beginning of the school year.  

I found a place to live near Hobson and First Street in Mesa.  I lived just across the street from Ross and Ilene Shumway and a block away from Uncle Jesse and Aunt Mabel Perkins.  My cousin Ilene said that she would always look across the street to be sure I got home safely at night.  My roommate was Martha Barston, a physical education teacher from Phoenix.  The next year she married Don Turley from Snowflake.  We enjoyed some good times together during the week.  She would go home every weekend.   My second year teaching at Edison School I moved with some girls to a home on Broadway and Olive Street in Mesa.  

I was assigned to Room #7 in the Primary wing at Edison School. I had about twenty students in my 2nd grade class.   There were two other second grade classrooms in the school.  One of my student’s had a father who was on the school board.  He liked the reading program I had in my room and made mention of it at a School Board Meeting telling them what a good teacher I was.   It made me happy that he had so many nice things to say about me my first year of teaching school.

I loved teaching and did lots of extra projects with my children.  We had lots of field trips.  When we were studying about trains I walked with my children down to Pioneer Park so that they could see the engine on display there.  For our school Christmas program I helped my children learn a special song about Christmas using the letter of each word to sing about what Christmas meant.   I helped my children make special gifts for their mother’s for Mother’s Day. Carol Ray was teaching a first grade class in Chandler so we shared ideas and special projects.  

After we were married and we moved to Chicago I was hired as a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher for the last half of the 1959-1960 school year.  The classes were overloaded so each teacher gave me some children from their classroom.  My classroom was in the basement of the Fullerton School. The current teachers each gave me some of their students.  I think I got what they thought were their problem children but I took it as a challenge and tried to be an influence for good in the lives of the children that I taught. I began teaching at Fullerton without any books.  As newlyweds we brought back to Chicago only the things we could fit in my car so I didn’t have many teaching supplies.  I used the Children’s Friend and anything else that I could find to help me prepare lessons for my students.   Most of my children had no home life since their parents usually went to work before they left for school and were gone when they got home.  I loved my children and had a desire to uplift them and speak encouraging words. 

I am grateful that I know that we are each children of Heavenly Parents who love us and want the best for us.   I feel that one of the greatest influences a person can have in this world is to influence a child and increase a child’s confidence in himself or herself.   By doing this we can help increase a child’s faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and help each child of Heavenly Father reach their potential.
After we started our family Jay and I felt that it was more important for me to stay home and teach them. I am grateful for a companion who made this possible by providing a good living for us.  Jay said that I never left the classroom because I used my education to teach my own children.  I enjoy reading and was desirous that my children have the same love of reading books that I have.  I read bedtime stories to them and always had lots of books around.

When my children began school I became involved in the Parent Teacher Organization.  I served as President of the Broadmor Family Association for the many years that we had children attending there.  I volunteered to serve as room mother in the various classrooms and helped with class parties.  While my children were in the primary grades I would volunteer to help in the various classrooms once a week.  I enjoyed going on field trips with my children.  I remember spending time in the classroom to show the students how to grind the wheat and make bread.  We had kindergarten groups over to our home for Easter egg hunts.  I helped with the kindergarten rodeo, Halloween Carnival and other school events.  

I continued to be involved with my children’s education when they went to McKemy Jr. High.  I served as president of the McKemy Booster Board for many years.  At Tempe High I also served as Booster Club president.  I initiated the Academic Recognition Banquets to honor those students that excelled in academics.  We also printed up Football programs and sold ads for the program to make money for the various needs the teachers and administration would need funds for.  

Later when I had grandchildren I invited the preschoolers over to my home for Grandma School.  I desired to help them learn to love learning.  

I have always encouraged my children and grandchildren that learning is a privilege.  They need to thank their parents and teachers and school administrators for all they do to help them get an education.   I taught my children to show respect for their teachers in school and church and any other capacity where they are helping them to learn.  

My desire was always to listen to my children and encourage them to always do their best.  I hope my children have great memories of growing up with a Mother that loves them.

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