4th, 5th and 6th Grade at P.S. 150
by Ann Scherel Heller
When I think of my school years at PS 150, I recall my 4th, 5th and 6th grade teachers. Each left an indelible impression for different reasons.
Mrs. Singer, a kind and motherly woman, was my 4th grade teacher.
I missed several weeks of school because my mother and I had to go to Los Angeles to join my father who had gone there to explore relocating his business. My mother refused to fly, because at the age of sixteen a fortuneteller predicted tragedy if she flew in a plane. As the fortuneteller’s other claim that my mother would marry a man whose last name began with the letter “S” came to pass, my mother was convinced that she must never fly. So we journeyed by train. Mrs. Singer sent me off with schoolbooks and schoolwork for the entire trip. Each day in our tiny train compartment, I did the math and reading exercises that she so carefully provided. When I returned to school after missing several weeks of school, Mrs. Singer welcomed me back to class, checked my work and assured me that I had not fallen behind.
In fifth grade I encountered Mr. Silverman, my first male teacher. I remember his moustache and little else of his appearance. I believe he was new to teaching. Perhaps, he had served in the armed services, but for whatever reason, Mr. Silverman lacked patience and class management skills. I was a chatty girl and for the first time in my school career I was disciplined. As an example to the class, Mr. Silverman singled me out and made me sit isolated in the back of the classroom. I was devastated and inconsolable. On this one occasion, my mother, who always told me that the teacher was right, came to my defense. I believe she called the principal and my exile came to an abrupt end. I do not remember if Mr. Silverman continued to teach at PS 150.
Sixth grade with Ms. Neary was quite a different experience. Here was a teacher who could tolerate noise, movement, and activity in her classroom if it related to learning. We did a great deal of work in small cooperative groups; we painted murals, sat in the hall doing research, and gave oral reports in front of our classmates. My friend Phyllis Baron and I published a class newspaper. For graduation the sixth grade put on its own version of HMS Pinafore. I was a chorus member, one of the “sisters, cousins, and aunts who he numbers by the dozens.” We had created our own costumes, wide brimmed hats made of oak tag adorned with colorful tissue paper flowers. I believe that the experience of performing on the stage nurtured my later desire to pursue drama at the High School of Performing Arts.
In becoming a teacher, I always remembered the three teachers and the lessons I had learned in their classrooms about student engagement, discipline, personal connection, caring, and patience.
Ann started her career as an English teacher at Julia Richman High School and served as the Reading Director of the Uniondale School District until 2001. "Known as granny Annie" to her three grandchildren, Ann and her late husband Paul raised their three children in Dix Hills, NY, where she still lives and is a literacy volunteer.