I loved my first grade teacher. She told me I was a great writer.
She also told me I was a great reader. I remember sitting very close to her one day, in a private room off of the library, reading a book as fast as I could while she held a stopwatch. When my time was up, she recorded the number of words I had read and tried not to smile. Later that year, I got an award in front of my whole class: Fastest Reader.
My mother took my reading skills for granted until she volunteered to teach my catechism class at church the next year and asked all the kids to read a paragraph from the workbook out loud.
"I thought everyone could read as well as you," she said on the drive home, more to herself than to me, visibly distressed at the thought that she might have embarrassed someone.
I loved my second grade teacher. She had dark hair, blue eyes, and red lipstick. She was buxom and stately, like an opera singer. I felt compelled to play practical jokes on her. Maybe it was because she would focus all of those beautiful features on me when she'd scold me and send me to the principal's office, barely concealing that gleam in her eye which let me know she found me at least somewhat charming.
I loved my third grade teacher. She had white hair, thin lips, and sparkling, heavy-lidded blue eyes. She smiled and winked at me after I spelled "scissors" painstakingly yet correctly in a class spelling bee.
One day, I worked up the courage to tell her I thought she looked like Maleficent from Disney's Sleeping Beauty.
"Isn't she a villain?"
"Yes, but she has pretty eyes," I explained, swiveling on my foot.
She smiled, and her eyes emitted an extra sparkle, just for me.