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An A+ for Grandma
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by Julia K
As Susan Sulby got on a plane to Germany with her husband, Marvin, she had no idea how crazy her world would be as the wife of an army captain in the late 1960's. After going to the University of Pennsylvania she taught English and Social Studies to 7th through 9th grade students in Philadelphia. It was tough getting those kids to cooperate, but she was sure that her new overseas assignment to teach the American soldiers that had never been to school before would be even harder.
As she sat in her seat, she looked down at her red dress, her favorite color to match her auburn hair, then at Marvin and hoped she would be okay.
As soon as she arrived, Sue went over the curriculum and prepared herself. Her goal was to get these students to read simple books. That was it. She said her goodbyes as Captain Marv walked to his dental office on the army base. She began her first day of teaching.
The eighteen, nineteen and twenty year-old soldiers filed in and introduced themselves. "Okay, today we will begin our reading lessons," Sue said in her most encouraging voice watching the confused men and women. It was sad to learn that they had chosen to come or were drafted into the war with so little formal education. They couldn't even read a newspaper. This was going to be a long day.
That night after Bingo, she met up with Marv. Sue started the conversation as her average-height body turned limp and her face hinted at extreme exhaustion, "How'd your day go?" "I pulled four teeth and cast a fake one," he replied. "Nothing life-threatening, I was just helping to ease the pain of others."
Day after day, the soldiers attended class. They learned more and more each session. The classes were going well and Sue was pleased. As Sue's days progressed, the soldiers started reading. One even graduated her class! She was doing a really good job and she was proud of herself.
A few nights later, while Sue reflected on the day's accomplishments, something terrifying happened. On television, everyone saw the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. She spent the whole night with crazy dreams and restless thoughts. That event gave her courage to be strong.
The next morning as Sue walked to her classroom, she knew she had to spend extra time with the soldiers that were having trouble reading and not give up. That day three more students left her room with huge grins on their faces. She was very successful. They were supposed to stay a full term, but already they met the reading requirements. They were able to read most signs and small words. As the year ended, mot of the soldiers graduated. She looked forward to next year's challenge of teaching third-graders! And she did teach as Captain Cravetz practiced his dentistry.
After many more successful days in the classroom and many losses in Bingo at night, Sue found a new career as a mother. She gave birth to Kim, my mother on May 26, 1966 and decided to return to the U.S. As she boarded the plane, she said goodbye to her friends and her former students.
Once in Pennsylvania, she started to lead a less stressful life. Coffee in the morning, special nights at restaurants, she was content with her life. Three years later she gave birth to Kennedy (Ken for short), my uncle. They grew up in no time at all. My mother had me, and Sue was a grandmother.
Maybe her perseverance as a teacher gave her the patience to deal with her two grandchildren, Julia (me) and Jonathan (my brother). As we discuss Socrates, my grandmother paints flowers and trees with me. She enjoys teaching me art. She is a great, giving person and I admire her tremendously.