ST. MARY'S BLOG

"Have a Nice Day, Mrs. Cagle"

Sitting in carline, I am waiting for my first born to get out of school. We have piano today and I cannot help but think about this school and how beautiful it is. Not physically beautiful- it does not overwhelm me with gables and antiquity. The original building was built in the 60s and few things about the 60s scream “Beauty!” Rather, I am talking about the interior beauty of the school. 

Seven hours prior to this, I dropped off those little blonde curls. A sweet seventh grader opened the door, waited patiently for my pokey child to get out and gave her a high five before looking at me and saying, “Have a nice day, Mrs. Cagle.” As the door closed, I heard her say, “Morning, Eileen! Are you ready for a great day?!” Eileen responds with an emphatic YEAH before tearing across the playground and heading into her first grade classroom, those curls and that book bag bouncing the whole way.

It’s hard to argue with that being the start to your school day. 

Eileen’s teacher is the quintessential southern belle. She is incredibly soft spoken and adored by every one of her students. Mrs. Folsom has been teaching for 34 years, but you would never know it, as her enthusiasm is as fresh as the first day of her first year. She openly says, “I love teaching first grade. Kindergarten has just a little too much chaos for me. I need the structure of first grade students.”

Having volunteered throughout all of last year in Eileen’s kindergarten class, I understood what Mrs. Folsom meant. It is chaotic compared to first grade- but, I could see the method to the madness and the control in the chaos.

Eileen’s kindergarten teacher had “her number” from day one. Mrs. Wilkinson, one of the three kindergarten teachers, showered her students with both love and affection. The students knew where the lines were and worked hard to both push those boundaries and stay safely within the realm. 

As both a kindergartener and first grader, Eileen’s grades reflect a smart kid. That being said, I don’t know how she best learns and what magic tricks her teachers have to cease her incessant wiggles. The brains underneath those blonde curls clearly come from her mother. The wiggles? Probably from me, too.

This year, the first grade has a third class. Mrs. Tyre came from a Catholic school in Macon, GA. Her husband was relocated to Augusta. I get the impression that her previous principal called Joe McBride, St. Mary’s principal, and said something to the effect of, “If you have a need for a teacher, you don’t want to let this one get away. She is that amazing.”

And, y’all— she is. She truly is. 

One of Mrs. Tyre’s students is Eileen’s BFF… you can be as shocked as I am that first graders know what “BFFs” are. The students love her and those two girls argue/debate/decide who has the best teacher. 

The third teacher that rounds out first grade is Mrs. Hardy. She is a native Augustan and an alumnus of this sweet school. Mrs. Hardy has been teaching for 10 years and also coaches the girls cheerleading squad. If memory serves, I think she once donned the uniform and pompoms, too. Having three teachers and two assistants keeps the classes small, the children engaged, and the opportunities endless.

The clock is winding down. In about 6 minutes those blonde curls will pop into my car and she will regale me with the things she gets to do on Tuesday— Good Shepherd (religion class), gym (they like to play “cookie monster”), and computer class. She got a special treat in the lunch line today— breakfast!— and I will learn that she did not eat the biscuit with sausage gravy, but ate all her waffle and bacon. We will talk about what she did on the playground (probably some sort of version of “Store”) and she will read to me from her Tuesday homework book. After piano, we will head home and have supper before doing it all again the next day.

Those same little blonde curls will get dropped off on Monte Sano Avenue and a different seventh grader will help her out of the car before looking at me and saying, “Have a nice day, Mrs. Cagle.”

Knowing that she is encapsulated in love and learning the best from the best, I will. 

I absolutely will.

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Rachel Cagle, guest blogger, is a parent of three children and member of St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church. Her first born, Eileen, is in her second year at St. Mary’s School. When Rachel is not sitting in carline, she is wrangling the other two and is an active volunteer. Her husband, Dr. William Cagle, is a Pediatric Intensive Care physician at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. They call The Hill home and St. Mary’s the perfect place for their children.