My mother thought she was frumpy, lazy and didn’t teach the fifth graders in her charge a thing. Yes, Ms. Bonet was grossly overweight, refused to wear a bra and her frizzy hair appeared not to have seen the inside of a salon in some time. Some of her teeth were a little crooked but she continued her wide smiles. Her dresses were far from stylish and in those days a woman never wore slacks to work, not even the little girls like me. So the thrown-together-look she modeled gave her flapping arms, loud voice and bouncing pounds the appearance of not caring; especially to a prissy woman like my mother. But I thought she was beautiful.
She was the only person I ever knew that owned a skunk for a pet and had a child without a trace of a husband, another strike against her with my mother. But that amazing woman taught me how to open the door to the world. She brought a radio to class so we could listen to the reports of John Glenn orbiting the Earth. I was the only little girl who chose to listen. She thought that was just fine. I later became a Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. It was her mission to teach us the U.S. states and capitals. I now teach world geography to college students. Another magical moment in her class was creating African masks. Later in life I remembered her as I found myself floating down the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Africa. The realization I could create worlds of adventure came as a result of lessons on how to make paper mache puppets. Soon we were writing puppet plays and performing them for our parents. Next week my first novel comes out.
Ms. Bonet still pushes me forward to become the next best thing. She truly was a teacher that affected my life in a positive way.