This month, I'm leading Trevor's Webelos (Cub Scout) den as they complete their 'Adventures in Science' activity pin. Since the boys are in fourth grade and I taught fourth grade, preparing the materials was simply a matter of reading through the Cub Scout requirements, then going to the file cabinet and pulling out the appropriate units from back from my teaching days. Between two of the folders, I found this:
It's a picture of me (obviously) in my classroom, printed on an 8.5" x 11" sheet of ordinary copy paper. I have no idea who took it or why it's printed so large and on copy paper, rather than smaller and on photo paper. Worse, I have no idea when it was taken.
For some reason, I'm obsessed with trying to figure out when this was. My name is written on the poster behind my head as "Miss Jones" so I know it was taken before I got married in 2004. I'm not wearing the heart necklace Steve got me during our first Christmas together in 2002 (nor the engagement ring I got 6 months later), so it wasn't 2003. It was not during my first three years as a teacher, as there are three panoramic photos of graduating classes on the wall. But the first year or two, we were a K-6 school and I didn't teach 6th, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't my fourth year. So that narrows it down to between 1999-2002. There's a poster about propaganda in the bottom right, which was from a new Language Arts adoption somewhere around my fourth year. That was around the same time our TV/VCRs were installed, replacing the large one we shared that had to be wheeled in. No help there. I've tried using a magnifying glass to read names on the Accelerated Reader chart on the wall, or what I'm writing, or whose names are on the birthday chart, but the photo isn't clear enough. I see that I'm still using a shirt box to hold the papers that need to be passed back, rather than the nice basket I used for that purpose in later years. And I see my childhood encyclopedia set on the shelf behind me. If I HAD to guess, I'd say this is 2000. But I don't want to guess. I want to know.
Photos like this show me how incredibly valuable scrapbooking is to me. Having photos is great, but it's the journaling that goes along with them that brings meaning. I can look at this photo and know that it is me, that I'm in Room B-4 at Glen Cove Elementary, and that I was the teacher of either a 4/5 combo or 5th grade class. I recognize almost everything in the picture and know how I used it and when I got it. If Trevor had found this photo after I was gone, he'd probably recognize me, but that might be it. He could guess that it might be my classroom, but he wouldn't know when or where. The next generation probably wouldn't even recognize me, let alone anything else about it. They may not even care, but if just one person appreciates that I've taken the time to record the details of our life in my scrapbooks, then that's more than enough reward for me.