The latest trend on The Book seems to be a fettish with creating a "You know you're from (insert city name here) if..." where folks relay their favorite quick memories from the past. It was cute at first but then it started getting annoying. The timeline started getting c0ngested with those posts because group moderators didn't know how to properly edit the settings of their group. Okay...I'm going a little off the deep end for those of you who aren't familiar with Facebook so let me cut right to the chase. The latest phenomena led to a creation of a similar Norwalk group which of course brought up memories of Mrs. Ward. Which reminded me I had to do a post about her.
We all have that one teacher from our past who is our favorite for different reasons. Mrs. Ward held that distinction with me. The band teacher Mr. Patten was a VERY close second but we'll save that for another post. For now, it's about Mrs. Ward. It really is quite an honor too because I don't have the best memory when it comes to my time in Norwalk. However, most of my better memories stem from her class and the folks that I interacted with in it and because of it.
The irony of it is that Mrs. Ward started her career at Norwalk at the same time that we were beginning our journey there. We were just freshman and she was supposed to be filling in just for one year for a teacher. I think the story is that something happened to that teacher and Mrs. Ward ended up getting the gig full time. Don't quote me on that though because I could be missing something. The important thing is that Mrs. Ward was able to enjoy the first year of NHS just as we were except she got it from the teacher's perspective.
Mrs. Ward choir room was like a haven of sorts for all of us. The fact that we enjoyed singing was a definite plus. However, the best part about being in her Chorus class was that she let everyone be themselves. She was fully aware that we all brought our own personalities to the table and she did not try to stifle that. Now could that have had something to do with the fact that it was her first year and maybe she was trying to get in good with us? Afterall, Chorus was the only class besides Band that had a mixture of students ranging from freshman to seniors. That may have had something to do with it. If so, that was just fine with us.
Most of all I loved how Mrs. Ward allowed our creative juices to flow. Sure we had to stay within the structure of a song when singing as a choir, but there other opportunities for us to shine differently. Things like the Swing Choir, the Madrigal Dinners, the musicals. She would let us come up with our own dance routines for certain songs or maybe even put in some additional lines to already scripted performances. It sometimes took some goading and maybe even a compromise or two but it was always well worth it.
We always knew where we stood with Mrs. Ward. She had such an affable personality that she was able to take some polite ribbing from the students at times. We always knew where to draw the line though. There was never any disrespect. We just enjoyed the fact that she would let us have our own fun that we would sometimes want to include her. She was probably privy to more inside jokes than any other teacher I've ever known. Heck, most of those inside jokes were probably initiated right there in her Choir room.
I would like to think that over our four years at Norwalk that Mrs. Ward was able to enjoy our presence just as much as we enjoyed hers. There was a core group of us that stuck with Chorus from freshman year all the way through our senior year which allowed her to get accustomed to all of our little idiosyncrasies. There was pretty much nothing we could say and/or do that would shock her. And believe me, there were more than a couple of instances that my friends Skip and Wahl would try. Mrs. Ward was always a good sport though which went a long way with many of us.
I would be remiss if I didn't also mention the teaching aspect that Mrs. Ward brought to the table. She was able to help me to better develop my singing voice which I naively thought was already good. She knew full well that I couldn't read a lick of music and worked with me so that I could still understand melodies enough so I could at least do it by ear. And don't even get me started about how she helped bring about the Barbershop quartet.
I can honestly say there were a number of teachers at Norwalk that I will always remember. Many for better and a few for worse. However, Mrs. Ward will always remain the most memorable. I alway wished that when my kids got into school they would have a teacher as great as her. Not sure it could ever happen though. Mrs. Ward was definitely one of a kind.