As I help my youngest son get ready for Middle School, a sadness fills my heart because I know I will no longer be picking him up from PS250. It is the school my two brothers and I attended as children, and I continued the tradition by having my three children go there as well.
You would have found me as a student in PS250 when songs like "Making It", "Hotline" and "Car Wash" were played in the auditorium and you prayed Mr. Quail would call your class to go up and dance on stage. I was there when they still sang, "God Bless America" and "Bless This House". My brothers and I were there when there were no air conditioners in the classroom and recess was everyday after lunch. We were students when platform shoes, polyester suits, kulot pants and bell bottoms were still cool. Charlie's Angels was on TV and Batman with Adam West was our exposure to superheroes.
When I was a child, PS250 was a very special place. It was truly not only my second home, but a place where I loved being. I don't remember many teacher names, I guess, except the ones that really made an impression in my life. The ones that matter stay a part of you forever.
I remember feeling special and not just one more kid in the way. Mornings began with a welcome that came directly from the principal, Mr. Yacavone and later, Mr. Quail. I remember Mr. Quail the most. He visited our classroom, and I believe each classroom, every morning. "Good morning, children." He'd say and we'd answer. "Good morning, Mr. Quail."
We weren't just students. He knew each one of us by name and knew our sibling's in the school, their teacher and our parent's names. He knew things about us and our lives as if he were part of our family. I don't remember him every yelling. He showered us with attention and seemed to care so much that we worked because we wanted to please him. He counseled with love and patience and made us feel like winners every day.
The most memorable person in PS250 for me was my fourth and fifth grade teacher, Ms. Maria Scarpinito. Later on, she would also be my youngest brother Alexis' teacher. She really encouraged and motivated me as a learner. More and more each day she nurtured my love for reading and writing. My teacher was caring, always going out of her way to make sure all students were learning, and she made you believe you could be anything you wanted to be in life. It was this teacher that saw my artwork and entered my work into different poster and art contests that I was able to win. It was the beginning of many more art competitions I'd enter and win, up until age twenty.
Ms. Scarpinito saw my love for reading and exposed me to all genres of books. Those books became my writing mentors, my ticket to other worlds, and my inspiration for stories, songs, and poems. I remember one day she gave me a book she said would be very special for someone like me that loved poetry. She introduced me to a thesaurus. I spent countless hours writing poems and then selecting words to change using the thesaurus. I must have driven her crazy with all the stuff I wrote, but she made a big deal about each piece, always.
I looked forward to writing because when she read it, she always had uplifting comments she'd write on it and that made me want to write more. During Library period, she directed me to chapter books and poetry books. While other students were selecting just anything, I thrived on classics I would later reread or need for college.
Some special moments that are permanently engraved in my mind are a time I believe was St. Patrick's Day, and Ms. Scarpinito brought in green bagels with cream cheese. For Christmas, she read us one of her favorite books, "The Velveteen Rabbit." I loved it so much I told my mom about it. When I was pregnant with my first child, my mom found an original copy at a library sale and bought it, dedicating it to my daughter and the memory of my beloved teacher. I remember performing in Oliver and other short plays. She was the model I would follow as I became a teacher later on.
In PS250, I was able to get the confidence to do many things in life. Being in the choir with Mr. Wachenheimer, gave me the courage to stand before crowds to sing and speak. It didn't happen over night, but later in life, I felt fearless. We had a time of Current Events in Ms. Scarpinito's class, where we pretended to be the News Team that week and I loved bringing forth the news using art, music and charts.
The lessons I learned in PS250 really prepared me for my continued education. But, I believe it was the love, dedication and belief in who we were as children and students that were the true unforgettable lessons learned. It was this one teacher that encouraged my own dreams to be a teacher one day. Ms Scarpinito saw the many talents and abilities growing in me and went out of her way to place me in the path to making those dreams come to pass. While others saw me shy and ordinary, she dared me to fly.
One day I look forward to publishing and illustrating children's stories. My mom and Ms. Scarpinito planted that desire in my life. During college I wrote and illustrated short stories that went on to be shared with schools and children all over New York City.
To conclude, PS250 was a magical place for students, and that's why it was extremely important for my three children to be there, even though they didn't get the blessing to have Ms. Scarpinito as a teacher. They did, for a short time, have the blessing of having Mr. Quail as principal. I will never have the way or words to say, "Thank you" to those leaders that engraved in me beautiful memories that allowed me to flourish and bloom as a child.
Ms. Scarpinito~Quail will always be the most wonderful example of an amazing teacher. To her I will always be grateful. To her I dedicate this blog in hopes that teachers everywhere will have in mind that as children we do remember the good and the bad moments. So, why not be the good memories of children that forever live.
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PS250 George H Lindsey School 108 Montrose Ave Brooklyn, NY 11206