(Photo by Unsplash)
(Photo by Unsplash)

Large McDonald’s French fry containers bordering the walls. Squeaky clean desks and shiny floors. Low ceilings that made the classroom feel a bit more manageable and magical. The smell of lemon-scented cleaning products upon walking in. These are the vivid memories I have of Joanne Foster’s classroom, 20 years ago.

Foster was my first teacher in elementary school at St. Madeleine Sophie School and remains my favorite in all my years of schooling. I remember my first impression: this lady exuded coolness. She had short hair and more than one piercing on both ears. Most importantly, she was full of excitement and patience, but somehow, at the same time, managed to make us feel a little less like 5 year olds. Everyone in the class, all of her students, adored her. Foster made following rules into a sport, a competitive one at that.

When I went to interview Foster, she radiated the same exuberant energy. Her classroom, now in the parish’s old church, instantly brought me back. It was clean and colorful and organized and it made you forget you were in the basement of an old building. Her style hardly changed. She has the same short, brunette hair, the same amount of rings and earrings and the same partner in crime, Sue Brenner, who I spent nearly every day after school with while she supervised “Aftercare.” I held off on revealing who I was until the end of the interview.

With my face mask aiding in my “disguise,” I finally revealed I was a student of Foster’s 20 years ago at the end of our time together. Both Foster and Brenner exploded with excitement. They immediately remembered me — and my twin sister who also attended the school — as well as my parents. Being a part of the Saint Madeleine Sophie family is something you can truly never forget.