This Former New Hampshire Teacher Still Goes Above and Beyond for Her Students
Since I was a little pint-sized nerdy nugget, I've known her as Ms. Wardwell.
Some of her past students may have known her as Mrs. Brough.
Regardless of how you knew the now-Mimi Wardwell-Glaude back in her teaching days, there's a solid chance that you still know her, still converse with her, and even still see her.
Barron Elementary School
Most of her former students know her best as the strict, by-the-books, strong-willed, straight-forward fifth-grade teacher at Barron Elementary School in Salem, New Hampshire.
Back then, if I'm being honest (and I feel like she would want me to be) -- she seemed intimidating. Then again, when you're 10 or 11 years old, let's be real -- you don't know anything.
But when you eventually grow up, mature, and understand situations better -- everything about Ms. Wardwell makes so much sense. She seemed intimidating (and strict, hard, etc.) because she expected the best from her students. Not because she was actually intimidating or mean.
Because she knew the best existed in her students. She set a high bar because she knew the potential all of her students had, and she demanded that every last ounce of it be squeezed out of them.
Her former students all get that now. It's why we're friends with her on Facebook. It's why we'll shoot her the occasional DM or -- even better -- smile when we receive the occasional DM from her.
Because even after all these years, she still cares about her former students as much as she did 20, 30, even 40 years ago. She's the kind of teacher that after decades of seeing you leave elementary school and move up to middle school, will reach out to grab lunch with you like she did her former student Ray McElroy over the weekend.
Her response to his posting this picture on Facebook? A nod to future plans.
My Dear, it was my pleasure. See ya in Kingston!
Considering she spends half of the year living in Florida, she's also the kind of teacher that will send you a message saying she's back in New England and will surprise you while you're literally hosting a pub crawl in Dover, New Hampshire -- as she did to me over a handful of years ago.
(Also, if you didn't think I felt horribly guilty for not only having a few beers before she showed up but also then drinking one in front of her, you underestimate the power Ms. Wardwell still has over me and probably her other students, too.)
And then there's the fact that she's the kind of teacher that will not only keep a gift one of her classes gave her/made for her but refuses to ever throw it away -- as she did with a quilt one of her fifth-grade classes made for her 28 years ago. Instead of tossing out the quilt when she was moving, she re-gifted it back to one of the students who had a hand in making it all those years ago.
So, Ms. Wardwell (or, Ms. Mimi, as you affectionately let me call you these days) -- if you're reading this, I think I can speak on behalf of every student you've ever taught when I say we love you, we appreciate you, and even though it's been decades since we've sat in front of you in a classroom, we're all still learning from you every single day.