The Greatest Lesson I Learned In Fifth Grade “Hands Down”


Upon reflection it ended up being one of the most thoughtless and cruel acts I ever saw done by the Principal of my elementary school. I don’t think she meant it, but that’s the way it turned out. I related the story to my wife the other night and having to relive it brought back all the emotions of that day. So much so that I heard my voice crack while retelling the event to her.

It was the fall of 1967 when I entered the 5th grade and was assigned to the class of Miss Lucas. I was disappointed because my best friend, David, had a different teacher, Miss Rosenthal. Miss Rosenthal was the most popular teacher in the school. She was young, warm, and friendly. Naturally everyone wanted her for their teacher. Miss Lucas was nice, but she had a reserved personality, was a bit older, and didn’t exude the warm and vitality that was such a part of Miss Rosenthal. And for us boys, Miss Rosenthal had the added bonus of being very pretty, while Miss Lucas was less flashy and more on the plain side. However, after a month in her class I began to really like Miss Lucas as she always treated me such that I fancied myself as a bit of a “teachers pet.”

And so it was that after being in Miss Lucas class for a month that the Principal entered our class one morning and announced that they needed to transfer several students from Miss Lucas’s class to the class of Miss Rosenthal to even out the classes. Then, for reasons still unknown to me to this day, the Principal asked who would like to volunteer to transfer to Miss Rosenthal’s class. He asked the questions right in front of Miss Lucas. Well, immediately a number of hands shot up. The hands weren’t just up; they were wagging and stretched upwards as if their very lives depended on it. Soon the class was filled with the sounds of, “Me, Me, Me!”

As I sat there and saw what was happening I glanced over at Miss Lucas. I will never forget the hurt I saw in her face. I glanced back at the Principal and the kids with their hands raised high and then back again at Miss Lucas. The thing was, I wanted to raise my hand. I wanted to be with my best friend and also have Miss Rosenthal as my teacher. I felt like all the other kids who were shouting out, “Me, me, me!” I kept telling myself, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Don’t raise your hand!” I knew if I did it would hurt Miss Lucas’s feelings. Inside I knew it wasn’t right. But…I felt my arm come off my desk and my hand started to waggle like many of the other kids.

Soon the Principal choose a few kids and they marched out of the room smiling and walking across the hall to the wonderland called the classroom of Miss Rosenthal. I was not one of the “chosen” ones.

Soon the door was closed and I sat at my desk with my head down. How could I have done that to Miss Lucas! I didn’t even want to look at her. How could I, traitor as I was.

And so it was that I went through the rest of the year in Miss Lucas class. I had a great year in her class, and maybe it was just me, but it seemed that my relationship with my teacher had changed since my “Benedict Arnold” betrayal.

It has been over fifty years since I was presented with my fifth-grade moral dilemma. I failed the test that day but I didn’t fail to learn a lesson about listening to your heart and the spirit of the Lord which prompts you to be kind to others. “Love thy neighbor as thyself”, he taught. I can’t go back in time and change what I did that day, but I can apply the Christ like principle taught to me that day about putting others feelings in front of mine. “Hands down”, it was the greatest lesson I took away from my fifth grade year of elementary.


Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.

Designed by ThemePix
Subscribe to Free Daily Message

Discover more from The DiscipleMD

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading