SELKIRK — In this issue, you will see an obituary for Joanne Crosier. She was 69. She died on April 26 after a battle with cancer.
To many reading this paper, she’s a face in an obituary. You might have seen her at the grocery store or you might have known her from her various hobbies.
To me, she was one of my fifth grade teachers. To this day, Joanne Crosier is remembered as one of my most vocal supporters.
Mrs. Crosier enabled my curiosity in ways many teachers didn’t. Learning came easy to me and because of that, I was always the one to ask more in-depth questions or hypotheticals than the lesson would allow. While my eagerness was sometimes not well-received in school, she was always the one who encouraged me to dig deeper.
Mrs. Crosier had the uncanny ability to spot gifts in her students. A kid in my class was absolutely brilliant with multiplication. When we played Around the World during class, this kid would win every single time — I remember it wasn’t even a competition.
That’s the kind of excellence her teaching brought out of us.
I was determined to master long division during one unit. If we finished our work early, we could write on her chalkboard. I would make up the most extravagant problems I could think of at 10 and then solve them. She always came to the chalkboard when I asked (weekly, mind you) and each time, a huge grin would cross her face.
Each time one of her students figured something out, that grin would appear.
I remember one day, while we were reading “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry, she was reading her own book at her desk. I walked up to ask a question and in her book was a picture of Adolf Hitler. When I asked her who that was, she didn’t dismiss me back to my spot. She took the time to give me some context.
That moment sent me on a mission that I still follow. Within days, I was clamoring around A.W. Becker’s library, looking for any book on the Holocaust.
Did I mention I still wander around book stores trying to find Holocaust books I haven’t read yet? I do. It’s the part of history I’m most passionate about. It started at that desk.
Shortly after that, we had to write feature articles and she assigned each of us to write one page on a topic of our choice. Mine came in at three pages — I had tried to recap the history of the Third Reich after reading a book about it from the library.
I was disappointed because I could have written more. She sent me back to my desk and told me to keep going.
I turned in a six page paper. It was in a green, spiral notebook with wide-ruled pages. It took me three days to finish, and it’s the first time I can remember being proud of something I had written. Being proud of something I created with what I now know is a gift.
Little did I know, she was watering the seeds in my brain and pushing me to explore writing. I realized all these years later that she saw talent in a place I didn’t.
In eighth grade, when I was asked to shadow a professional, I shadowed her. I watched her teach her classes — the same chairs that I sat in three years prior still in her classroom. Walking in, it felt like I never left. It was like I had never left her classroom.
This bond between student and teacher is something that has lasted 16 years. While I lost touch with her in high school (something I’ll regret for the rest of my life), I’ve often thought about looking her up and showing her the paper.
She was right. She was right on the money, 100 percent. I’m a writer.
I will remember Mrs. Crosier’s faith in me for the rest of my life. I will remember the teacher who devoted a little extra time to that “annoying” student who asked as many questions as she could. I will remember the woman who always made sure her students remembered the gifts they had.
You made a difference, Mrs. Crosier. I’ll miss you.