Remembering my school days…

I loved school growing up. I’m a proud product of public schools, and I was lucky to have so many smart, dedicated teachers. I can still recite their names and something about each and every one of them today.

It’s funny what school memories have stuck with me over the years: Miss Taylor reading to my first-grade class from Winnie-the-Pooh every morning. Miss Cappuccio, my second-grade teacher, challenging us to write from one to one thousand. It was an impossible task for our tiny hands, but the exercise taught me what it meant to follow through on big projects.

I was a classic tomboy all through elementary school. My fifth-grade class had the school’s most incorrigible boys, and when Mrs. Krause left the room, she would put me or one of the other girls in charge. As soon as the door closed behind her, the boys would start acting up. I got a reputation for being able to stand up to them, which may be why I was elected co-captain of the safety patrol for the next year.

Then there was my sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. King, who drilled us in grammar, but also encouraged us to think and write creatively. She would say “Hillary, don’t put your light under a bushel basket.” It took me a while to learn what that meant, but it has stayed with me. It was an assignment from Mrs. King that led me to write my first autobiography, which I later found in a box of papers after I left the White House.

Senior Year of High School, 1965

My teachers helped to shape my childhood — and my future. When it was time to make one of the biggest decisions of my adult life — where to attend college — I got much needed guidance from two teachers, Misses Fahlstrom and Altman. Had it not been for their mentorship, I would not have considered “going East” to Wellesley. But they encouraged me to enroll in a college that would stretch my wings and my mind, and I’ll always be glad that I did.

Beginning in kindergarten and all the way through high school and college, my teachers were among the biggest influences in my life. I have always been grateful for all they did to challenge and support me. I’ll be thinking about them, and every teacher returning to the classroom, on the first day of school.

To all of our teachers: Thank you for all you do to guide our kids and inspire a lifelong love of learning. And to parents and students: Wishing you all a happy and successful school year!