In Miss Kjoller's classroom, language was a mystery and a joy. It could help us discover our past (her name was German, we learned) and introduce new ideas that no one had heard before. She set up a reading corner with books and giant beanbags, and encouraged us to express our ideas in our own journal – a little book of handwriting paper with spaces for illustrations. She connected with us each individually, and made us feel that our thoughts and concerns were important.
Second grade was a stark contrast to first grade, where my teacher was unprepared, overwhelmed, and unhappy. I felt like a burden to her, and I started coming home with stomach aches. On the outside, the two classrooms looked a lot alike, and it may have been the first year for both teachers, but Miss Kjoller made me love school again.