August 2022


Park Hill Elementary

For some reason, I’ve been thinking about growing up in Denver, and my time at Park Hill Elementary School. It’s funny what my Mom and I remember. We both agree that my Kindergarten teacher was Miss Stein, who always wore hats. This is easily remembered because Miss Stein also taught my sisters and brother. We also agree that my first grade teacher and I really got along, although neither of us remember her name. I’m fairly certain it was Italian and that it started with F. Beyond that we’re both clueless.

We also agree on Fourth through Sixth grade: Fourth was Mrs. McCann (bad), followed by Mrs. (maybe Dr.) Horan-Jacobson (excellent) in Fifth. Miss Klarl was my sixth grade teacher. I remember her because although she was a fine teacher, she and I had some fundamental disagreements—she believed that you should experience everything at least once. I wondered if that included doing drugs. Miss Klarl later showed up as a teacher at Smiley Middle School my eight grade year (I just Googled her and discovered that she retired a couple of years ago, and discovered that she contributed to the DNC last year).

However second and third grades we tend to have disagreements. I would have sworn that my second grade teacher was an African-American woman who was pregnant and left part way through the year. My Mother, while not disagreeing with the fact that I had this teacher, recalls that it was somebody else—but she’s hazy as to whom it was. Neither of us recall my third grade teacher—which is odd, because as I write this, I’m fairly certain that my siblings (at least one) had the same teacher I did—I distinctly remember that in third grade we learned cursive, and that my brother Seth showed up one day toward the end of the day wearing his dark tri-focal lenses and the teacher asked him to take them off. (Miss Grey, actually—I just talked to my brother—I shall have to inform my mother.)

What I’m fairly certain of is that I have remembered the size of the classrooms incorrectly. I remember the classrooms being absolutely enormous. I suspect this is true for all of us. Kindergarten and First grade were in the new wing of the school on the first floor—I have no memories of it being small, in fact I remember it being absolutely huge. I can only imagine that if I were to return to those classrooms today that I would wonder why they ever seemed so large in the first place.

It was sometime in either September or October 1980 (first grade) that I broke my left wrist and elbow on the jungle-gym before school. I remember the time because I missed Halloween. It must have been right before Halloween, otherwise it wouldn’t have been so memorable. I distinctly remember failing spelling in first grade. I am pretty sure I once misspelled the word “spelling” on a spelling exam in third grade.

I remember that during one of the later sex-ed classes—when they became mixed gender—that I was sitting next to a girl who fainted onto me. Gosh, and this just reminded me that while at Smiley Middle School a girl fell in love with me—I can still remember her name. I was too oblivious to connect the obvious dots immediately, although afterwards I realized what had happened, but I figured that girls matured more quickly than boys and that one day I would be interested.

How wrong I was.

5 comments to Park Hill Elementary

  • ChrisC

    My fourth grade teacher was an incredible witch. Each year she would pick out four or five boys and mentally abuse them for the entire school year. She did this to my older brother and since we were releated, I was placed on her hit-list by default.

    My mother argued to the school to move me to the other 4th grade class due to this teachers past history and the fact it was repeating with me. The school refused and mom nearly placed me in private school that year.

    The school eventually caught on and put this witch in charge of the library for the last two years before she retired. We all think she should have been fired instead.

    Much to the bennefit of school children everywhere the wicked witch of Columbia Elementary is dead now. Rot in Peace Mrs. Stearns!

  • MT

    My sixth grade teacher called me retarded to my face. Boy, I sure would like to send her a copy of my Ph.D. diploma. What a bitch!

    Man, I think we could make a Jerry Springer show out of this. LOL.

  • MT- I want to go back to your elementary school with you.

    It could be a great deal of fun.

    Revisiting Mrs. Sterns with Chris might be more problematic.

  • ChrisC

    Hmm… can I go with yourself and MT? I agree with you assesment of visiting my former teacher.

  • […] last post spurred me to start thinking about some of the bad teachers I had while in the Denver Public […]