INSPIRING STORY OF THE WEEK
OPOSSUM ON MY SHOULDER
by Lois W. Stern
The inspiring story of thriving in a three room schoolhouse
I sometimes think that most of what I needed to learn in life, I learned in a three room schoolhouse.
This is my inspiring story about those early days.
I started my formal education in a tiny schoolhouse in the sleepy seaside town of Cold Spring Harbor, NY. At its peak East Side School held a total of seventy-two students, averaging five to eight students per grade K-8. If you looked inside any classroom, you would see three rows of neatly lined desks, one row per grade, three grades per room.
During a recent presentation, I told some stories about my early school years, opening with an inspiring story my audience found most amusing. After the first several weeks of kindergarten, my teacher met me at the door one morning with a big smile on her face. Lois, slide your desk over to the middle row, she instructed. Although I was only four and a half years old, I was smart enough to realize I was just promoted to first grade, the row reserved for first graders. No, my parents weren’t consulted in advance, nor did I receive any psychological tests. Everyone seemed fine with just using teacher judgment as the sole decision maker.
I also told the story of one weekly routine that without fail caused my heart to pound. I would do almost anything to avoid it, but with the clever guidance of a very skilled teacher, I slowly came out of my shell. It all started the night an opossum decided to move into my family’s garage. My classmates didn’t know much about opossums. Neither did I. But we learned together.
Watch this video to hear me tell this story.
Sharing those inspiring stories
What a thrill for me to return to Cold Spring Harbor to do a presentations at their library and see the desk of that wonderful teacher on permanent display! I was fortunate to have a reporter from the Long Islander News interview me that evening. She wrote a full page article about this presentation, published in their weekly paper the following Thursday, which you can see below. Thank you, Janee Law!
Opossum on My Shoulder is published in
Tales2Inspire ~ The Topaz Collection (Stories of Awakenings and Aha Moments)