My brother Alan and I are what is commonly known as Irish twins (10 month age difference).  Due to birthdays, we started school the same year. 

We were Army kids and moved around a lot when we were younger.  By the time we were in seventh grade we had been in seven schools.  Obviously making friends and leaving them was a difficult part of our lives, but we always had each other and that made things easier.

During first grade, we were in the same class.  After Daddy came home from Vietnam, we moved to  Georgia. 

When Mother took us to register for school it was decided that it would be a good idea to separate us - they didn’t like the idea of siblings in the same classroom.

The day we enrolled was memorable.  The two second grade teachers, Miss Casey and Mrs. Reynolds, came into the school office to decide which class was best for us. 

Miss Casey looked like a caricature of the old fashioned teacher - iron gray hair in a tight bun, round wire rimmed glasses, high necked blouse with a cameo at the throat,  nondescript skirt, and black sensible shoes.  And she scared me.  After being introduced, Miss Casey asked which of us would like to be in her class. 

And my loving brother gave me a shove forward.  I practically ran into Miss Casey’s arms. 

The teachers couldn’t have been more different.  Miss Casey was no nonsense and all business.

 Mrs. Reynolds was more easy going and showed affection to her students.  Another difference was homework.  Miss Casey believed in a LOT of homework, while Mrs. Reynolds gave a bare minimum since she subscribed to the theory that kids needed to have time to play after school.

Miss Casey pushed me very hard.  I often had extra assignments and was completing work beyond the second grade level.  As I watched Alan having fun and playing, I wondered what I had done to deserve the punishment of Miss Casey. 

I remember an instance when I decided that since Alan didn’t have homework (and if he did he sometimes “forgot” to do it) I wouldn’t do my homework.  That was the only time during my entire academic career that I even contemplated not doing my homework. 

My parents heard sobbing coming from my bedroom after lights out.  Mother came in to check on me and I sobbed, “Jesus knows I didn’t do my homework.”  Then I got up and did it.

Miss Casey pushed me, but looking back I realize that she was challenging me to be the very best I could be. 

She saw something in me that moved her to help me learn and be successful.  I will never forget Miss Casey, and I will always be thankful that my brother pushed me forward. 

Miss Casey and many others like her don’t get nearly enough credit for their no frills hard work and the positive influence they have in the lives of many students.

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