No one said anything. I guess the other teachers did not want her on their roll. I didn’t say anything because I was stunned. I had taught for years, but was newly hired at this school. My principal had called a meeting with my grade level before the school year started to discuss class lists.
Unless a child has older siblings who have attended a school, nothing may be known about them before they enter kindergarten. Good principals try to divide the behavior problem students, and even time-consuming parents, if they know about them.
I finally found my voice. “I’ll take her!” I blurted out.
The other teachers all stared at me like I was nuts.
Apparently, I needed to explain myself. “The Mormon kids I know are usually well behaved.”
I noticed a few of the teachers shaking their heads slowly as if they were thinking: This new teacher’s crazy; she’ll never make it.
It took awhile that first year for the other teachers to finally realize why I knew so much about Mormon kids. “You’re a Mormon? I thought you said you belonged to some Saints’ church.” Yes, it took a while.
I did learn why the other teachers did not want to have the Mormon girl in their classroom. Some teachers had suffered with a Mormon boy who was diagnosed as ADHD. It took several medications before a prescription was found that helped him calm down. All Mormon kids were being judged from that one example - and misunderstandings that we idolize Mormon rather than believe in Jesus Christ.
It took the whole first year and more to “educate” the other teachers about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But I had many opportunities throughout that time to say and do many little things…like slipping in the special feature Ensign issue on Christ with a gift of homemade pumpkin bread for Christmas gifts.
It really helped when it turned out that “the Mormon girl,” Morgan, who no one else wanted in their class, never gave me any behavior problems, was quickly reading above expectations, and dressed appropriately and adorably. Not only that, she came along with the perfect supermom. Ruth helped with all the parties, attended all the fundraisers, and volunteered when she could. As a mother of six, she was busy, but brought veggie trays to parties, bought extra school supplies for children who didn’t have enough, and offered used coats to children who needed one. Ruth shopped at garage sales and picked up things other people might need or handed down clothes from her large family. As it turned out, I was the lucky one who had chosen Morgan to be in my class.
The next year, everyone fought over who would get the Mormon kids.
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Susan Case blogs at Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers. She is the author of Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics, Triumphs and Tasty Treats for Teachers and Parents and the co-author of The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn