Monday, October 5, 2015
Door Holders: Donna Ferrere
Fourth grade. Probably nine years old.
I needed a door holder in the fourth grade.
I wrote about it first here, after I got back from San Antonio last summer. Now I recognize that it was trauma I experienced that year. I think that's where I began to cry in the morning, telling my mom I didn't want to go to school. I couldn't articulate why, exactly; how does a nine-year old talk about betrayal and that gnawing realization that someone has the power to slam doors in your face and determine the course of your interaction with society? Albeit a small society of fourth-graders.... Still, it matters.
It was a difficult year, and I turned to the adult in the room for help. She rose to the occasion, as I recall.
Donna Ferrere was her name. She taught the entire fourth grade at our little country elementary school. I remember her short haircut, warm smile and a love of reading that she passed on to me. I think I found a deeper solace in books that year, and I know that I came to understand just how powerful the encouragement and support of one person could be. I think Donna Ferrere was the one reason I endured fourth grade; in fact, I triumphed, if you consider straight A's, and scholastic achievements and a passionate love of books a win.
I'm forever grateful for this teacher. She held the door open for me to believe in myself and to stand against devastating social pressures; I believe she propped the passageway open long enough for me to recover and walk through under my own power. She believed in me. It made a powerful difference.
Again, I'd love to know what my mom remembers about that year; perspective is everything. But Donna Ferrere will always be a champion to me.
PS A note about my groovy fourth-grade style; how about those Lennon glasses? And the shirt - I remember that blend of polyester and cotton so well! It was a body suit, and no - I'm not kidding - it snapped in the crotch and stayed perpetually tucked in. My mom, a master seamstress and extraordinarily creative, sewed it for me.