Ms. Gitskin | Teen Ink

Ms. Gitskin

September 18, 2023
By faithk07 BRONZE, Mundelein, Illinois
faithk07 BRONZE, Mundelein, Illinois
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

~inspired by “Clamorous to Learn” by Eudora Welty

Ms. Gitskin, a middle-aged woman with a personality as bouncy as her hair, was the first teacher to accommodate my needs in the classroom. She wasn’t the prettiest woman, but she had an endearing way about her that filled a room and lightened any mood. Her long skirts didn’t quite touch the floor when she walked, even though her ballet flats didn’t have a heel. Her shirts were tucked in somewhat messily, with lots of wrinkles and lumps around the hem. But I absolutely loved her. She was clearly more dedicated to making her students feel comfortable at school than actually teaching the curriculum. I believe that she made it her priority to help her students in any way possible, doing whatever it took to make school a place of hope for kids who had none. That was what made her want to help kids.

She wasn’t a relatively new teacher when she taught my class, but she hadn’t been there for very long, like some of the other teachers who taught the first grade. For some reason, I thought that she had been working there for years upon years, judging by the way she dressed with her blouses and satiny ballet flats. But she knew how to command a room, especially a classroom with over twenty 6 and 7 year-old kids. Except me. My mind was always going a mile a minute- no time to pay attention to addition or subtraction- Ms. Gitskin realized this soon into the school year. From what I have been told, she was good friends with my kindergarten teacher (which is mind-boggling to me now, considering how differently they taught), and was warned about me from her. Most people have been in a class with one student who just couldn’t pay attention at all and who often decided to get up and take a run around the classroom. When this first happened, she immediately contacted my parents, who had been aware of this situation and had tried to get me evaluated for autism or ADHD, with no conclusive results. Ms. Gitskin was ready.

Managing the rest of the class on top of dealing with me was hard for her, so she helped my parents and I get in touch with the school’s designated counselor, who proposed using fidget toys as a coping mechanism. Ms. Gitskin took the issue of providing fidgets into her own hands and bought me multiple things that helped deter me from being a classroom distraction. The singular fidget that brought me the most peace was a small strip of velcro, which she stuck under my desk that was meant for me to rip off and put back on. Almost immediately, I stopped getting up during class and distracting my classmates. Her ballet flats slapped the floor, getting louder as she advanced toward me every time I started to become distracted and soothed me with supportive words. 

Although I don’t remember learning anything related to reading, math, or science in her class, I learned how to manage myself. Ms. Gitskin was a shaman for me. She opened a gateway to 504 Plans and classroom accommodations for me, which greatly expanded and improved my learning experience. Her class wasn’t the most memorable for me, but it was definitely the most important in the long run. The extra attention she paid to me during her class paid off in later years, proving to be influential because now I know how to stay grounded.

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