Elementary school was a happy time for me. I liked school, I liked my friends, I liked my teachers, I even liked my homework. I don’t remember any big traumas. I do remember feeling liked and nurtured by most of the adults in my life. It was a calm before the unavoidable storm of adolescence.
A childhood like that is a gift, one for which my parents and teachers deserve endless gratitude for providing.
Among all the wonderful teachers who cared for and inspired me in those formative years, one especially stands out. Mrs. Strnad was the social studies teacher at North Chevy Chase Elementary School. I think there was only one social studies teacher for all four grades – the school was relatively small – so everyone got to take her class, and everyone looked forward to it. She was, in a word, cool.
Not in the hip sense of the word. She was middle-aged, with short, grey, no-nonsense hair. Her daily uniform was a pair of dark, mannish trousers and an oversized buttondown. She wore clear-framed glasses and no makeup. She was tall and broad with a deep voice.