Mrs. Ward, or Mrs. Shirley as all of her students called her, was a dedicated and passionate teacher. She taught a number of students in Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 in the same classroom at my Elementary School, St. Mary’s Elementary. Mrs. Ward’s commitment to giving us the best possible chances at success was evident in her typical habit of staying behind after class to make sure those of us who could not understand more difficult learning concepts, such as math, were mastered so that we could move on with the rest of the class.
A very big part of our learning and celebrating of holidays at St. Mary’s Elementary School involved plays and concerts. The Christmas concerts required us to play different parts and to memorize long scripts. I remember receiving one script to practice and found it to be very challenging. My mom called her to see if I had received the correct script as it was very long and difficult to memorize. Mrs. Ward reassured her I was more than capable of memorizing the script and that it would be a breeze for me.
Hearing this from my mom gave me the confidence to continue practicing that script until I had completely memorized it. To this day, I give credit to my elementary school teacher for inciting in me the confidence and commitment to learning that still resides with me today.