free the pen, a blog for writers

August 13, 2011

Who Was Mrs. Levin??

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 4:09 pm

Mrs. Levin was my third grade teacher. She was blonde, short and rotound. She had a soft voice and easy manner and the thing I liked about Mrs. Levin the most was that she left me alone. That comment might not seem unusual for a grade schooler but truly-she left me alone. Now I don’t mean that she didn’t care about me or that she didn’t check out her class in case someone needed help. No. Mrs. Levin left me alone with confidence that I wasn’t doing something she needed to correct me for. I felt trusted by Mrs. Levin.

My parents were strict and watched me every inch of the way no matter what I was doing in order to make sure I didn’t do this wrong or make a mistake with that. It nearly drove me crazy but at the age of seven the definition of what you are going through doesn’t dawn on you until you face its opposite. Mrs. Levin offered me that opposite. Here is the moment I realized it. I still remember it so clearly. I was standing in the back of the room at an easel, a paintbrush in my hand and apron strings too long for my skinny body tied twice around my waist. I had an enlightened moment because I felt free, calm and comfortable in my skin-a feeling I wasn’t used to for the first time ever.

I can see my paintbrush even now, at the age of 61, suspended in my arm in mid-air as I looked for Mrs. Levin wondering if I was going to be yelled at for something. She was standing in the front of the room speaking with a student. She wasn’t hovering over me instructing me with each breath. She didn’t exhibit worry or that curious eye waiting for me to do something for which she needed to yell out a sentence of corrections. I was allowed space to paint without the stress of worrying if I got paint on my hand or floor or shoe. I think that might have been the first time I felt myself take a breath.

Mrs. Levin was soft, kind, caring and she gave me room to feel who I was as a little girl. I think of her often in gratitude. And when I’m feeling oppressed by someone I think of Mrs. Levin — and breathe.



  1. What a beautiful tribute! I was always terribly shy growing up. The first teacher who recognized this and nurtured me through some very panicky moments was Mrs. Hitt in the fourth grade. We always remember those who see our potential and encourage us in the ways that are best for us. I couldn’t help but take a breath and breathe with you as I read your last sentence. Thank you for sharing this story.

    Comment by twoweekworship — August 13, 2011 @ 4:29 pm | Reply

  2. It isn’t amazing how someone can touch us in such a seemingly insignificant way yet last a lifetime?

    Comment by freethepen — August 13, 2011 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

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