The anticipation of the first day of school lurks in every kid’s brain all summer long. I remember in late July of 1975, my mom took me up to Goddard Elementary (now called Oak Street) to see who my teacher for 2nd grade would be. I wanted anyone but the teacher everyone warned me about the year before…Mrs. Loomis. She had a bing cherry bouffant hairdo, rhinestone cat eye glasses, and fingernails painted different colors. Everyone said she was a witch! Please oh please…give me any teacher besides her!
When we walked up to the school doors to look at the class lists, there was my name, under Mrs. Loomis’s class. “Augh!!! I got looney Loomis!” I exclaimed in my head. The fear and trepidation of what may lie ahead was too much to bear. I must add that up to this point, I was a total, timid wallflower. I desperately wanted to please everyone and was deathly afraid of disappointing anyone, so I learned to mentally and emotionally tiptoe and tap dance.
That first day of second grade, I shyly entered the room with my mother and found my seat. I think she left pretty quickly, because the next thing I remember is Mrs. Loomis animatedly saying, “Hello my dear little detectives! You are not just second graders, you are MY detectives, ready to search high and low for answers in this mystery of a world! I need you to keep your eyes open, to discover the world around you! ” She then opened a satchel she’d been carrying and handed out magnifying glasses to each one of us. I knew at that moment, I would follow this lady to the ends of the earth! She got me!!! I had NEVER felt so excited and important as that first day of second grade.
Christmas time was approaching and our class was to perform Here Comes Santa Claus at the 1975 Christmas concert. Mrs. Loomis asked me, ME, to direct the class. She said, “Kim, you’re a leader! You have a gift of music AND leading, and you must direct the class!” I was scared, but I trusted her judgement. She was absolutely magical. How could she be wrong? I did a great job directing our second graders, and obviously, Mrs. Loomis’s encouragement influenced my life choices years after that day.
Mrs. Loomis ended up being THE. MOST. AMAZING. TEACHER. I ever had. When I was in high school, I received the privilege of writing a recommendation letter when she was awarded a golden apple by the state of Kansas. After graduation, I occasionally saw her through the years, and often reminded her of how she changed my life. In 2015, I attended her funeral and was able to share how she impacted my self esteem which in turn, influenced my career decisions.
I am a K-5 Music teacher today, because an eccentric genius of a second grade teacher with bing cherry hair and rhinestone glasses took the time and effort to see beyond my fears. Thank you Mrs. Loomis, and thank you teachers of all grades and subjects for choosing to teach our kids over all other professions. You are making an impact that can’t be measured. Don’t ever forget it!