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My View: Teachers are giants, leave big impression

By Angela Jonathan

She showed up at Tuscarora School in Lewiston in 1965 with a great attitude and a kind heart – a young college student from Niagara Falls fulfilling her final requirements for her teaching certificate.

She made such a lasting impression on me that she was remembered and thought of for many years. Her cheerful attitude, her soft-spoken kindness and her beautiful smile were contagious.

In 1990 I started working in the library of Military Road School in Niagara Falls and met a whole crew of new people. The reading teacher, Mrs. Serio, asked if I would drive to the Central Office with her to hang up some student artwork. I did, and as we were driving, she mentioned her mother, Mrs. Kishmoian.

Wait a minute! “You’re my Miss Kishmoian from Tuscarora School, 1965?” I asked.

Well, yes, she said, she did her student teaching in a kindergarten classroom at Tuscarora School, and yes, that was the year she was there. She didn’t remember me but I told her that I always remembered her and that I was happy I finally found her and that we were together again.

We worked together for a few more years until the Military Road School closed and then went our separate ways to different elementary schools in the Niagara Wheatfield District.

I was happy knowing that my Miss Kishmoian was alive and well and married with children and in a job she loved as a reading teacher. She invited me for lunch once in her new home and we saw each other occasionally.

Last year, she called out of the blue and asked if she could come and have lunch with me. She showed up as always – punctual, upbeat, positive and full of enthusiasm. Things often come full circle in life, and I was now working in the office at Tuscarora School.

We ate lunch, visited and went upstairs to the Tuscarora language room – the former kindergarten room – to take a picture of the two of us. I never dreamed that this would be the last time I would ever see her.

We forget sometimes how precious and fleeting life can be until it hits close to home. My wonderful kindergarten teacher took ill quickly on New Year’s Day. She fought a good fight with her family by her side. One of her own daughters is now a teacher, too.

My Miss Kishmoian was laid to rest at the start of this school year. It was a fitting end for a wonderful teacher to find rest as the new school year geared up.

I remembered her asking me as we became reacquainted with each other why I didn’t recognize her immediately after all those years. Didn’t she look the same?

I told her, “You are such a tiny and petite person, but when I was in kindergarten, you were a giant!”

Teachers, you are giants to little ones in stature and in impressionability. You have such an opportunity to leave an impression on your students.

You will cause a young child to untie the ribbons on her dress, knowing you will notice and tie them up. You will make a child eager to get to school every day to be a part of your room. You will stand out in a crowd with your attitude and tenderness. You will leave a lasting imprint on young lives. You will make us find you 25 years after we first met you at the age of 5 and still remember your name.

Thank goodness for teachers. Now that the school year is underway, remember to be a giant!

Angela Jonathan, of Lewiston, teaches beginner beadwork at the Tuscarora Indian School and is a member of the Tuscarora History Society.
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