Recently, I was reflecting on the relationship I had with my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Knapp, from many years ago. I maintained communication with her for decades after we parted due to the lasting impression she made on my young mind.

We met in California when my parents were stationed at an Air Force base and Mrs. Knapp and her husband, an Air Force pilot like my father, were stationed. Both couples struck up a friendship that also lasted decades.

Mrs. Knapp and I corresponded every Christmas and I even spent some time with her when I visited a friend in Colorado where she lived. When I became a teacher and was nominated for Teacher of the Year, I wrote about her in my application and sent her a copy. She was quite moved by the simple tribute I gave to her.

She gifted me with a special book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” by Robert Fulghum. The now classic book was originally published in 1989 and she purchased my copy that year. She also inscribed it with sweet words about how proud she was of my accomplishments. I was moved and touched beyond belief. It was a validation of me as a person, but the person heavily influenced by my Kindergarten teacher.

If you have not read the book, I will take the liberty of including some of the most important points to consider related to the title. When I think about it, I really did learn all I needed to know during that pivotal year, and I bet if you read this passage from the introduction, you might as well. These simply stated items relate to our daily lives and if we keep them in mind, they can guide our path to success in life.

All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten.

Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

♦ Share everything.

♦ Play fair.

♦ Don’t hit people.

♦ Put things back where you found them.

♦ Clean up your own mess.

♦ Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

♦ Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

♦ Wash your hands before you eat.

♦ Flush.

♦ Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

If you have not yet read the book, I encourage you to do so. There are other subtle life lessons between the covers that you and perhaps your children can learn from.

I would add one more thing that every reader should do and that is to thank a teacher. They give us the gift of learning and if we are lucky enough to have our own Mrs. Knapp somewhere along the way, we are blessed indeed.

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Mary Migliaro is an educator, parenting mentor and consultant who lives in Cherokee County.

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