When you’re in elementary school, specifically the 2nd grade, and the first day, you wonder what teacher you’ll have, right? You go to the office, get your teacher’s name, and find your room number. As I was walking to find my room, I read my paper. Mr. Prato? I have never had a boy teacher! I was very nervous. Will he be mean? Or grumpy? Or not smell just right? As I approached his room, a man stepped out. “Hello!” he said, “You must be Ryan! I’m Mr. Prato. Nice to meet you!” We shook hands. My mom happened to be with me. As usual she struck up a conversation about how I had never had a male teacher and blah, blah, blah. Before my mom left, I handed my new teacher an apple. It was a tradition for me that I had done since kindergarten.
“Bye, Mommy! See you tonight!” I said. She hugged me and replied, “Have a strong day sweetheart; I love you.” Then she walked away.
Entering the classroom, I saw my desk. I peeked inside. Aaaah, my favorite I thought as I admired my new pencils, touched the points of my new crayons, and smelled my fresh erasers. “Good morning, class!,” Mr. Prato said with a warm smile. He wrote Mr. Prato very big and clear on the board. Then, he passed out papers for us to work on. Throughout the day, we colored, ate, talked, and played. Before I knew it, the day was over. “Goodbye, Mr. Prato.” I said with much enthusiasm. “See you tomorrow!” I came back that next day, and the next, and the next. But, then, we started math. And I have never particularly liked math.
“I don’t understand, Mr. Prato.”
“It’s okay, Ryan.” He said. “You’ll get it. I’ll help you.”
“Oh, thank you, Mr. Prato. You’re the best!” I said. And from that day forth, he spent a little extra time helping me understand.
One day, I did something terribly wrong. I stole a stuffed animal from a classmate. I cried as I walked up to him. “Mr. Prato,” I said. “I’m very, very, sorry but . . .” Then I told him everything. As I looked into his calm eyes, I wondered if he was mad at all. And guess what? He wasn’t mad. He let me write my classmate an apology. He was glad that I confessed. I was very guilty.
Throughout the year little problems occurred, but Mr. Prato fixed all of them. Then, before I realized it, the year had gone by. Mr. Prato played graduation music as we said our goodbyes. I told him that I would miss him. It turns out that I will miss him a lot more because he passed away in his sleep on July 20, 2014 from a heart attack. I will remember all of the fun times we had in class. I will remember how he explained the project over, and over again just for me. I will remember his big booming voice ringing through our classroom. I will remember how he would always want us to leave class with a smile, not a frown. All I’d like to say is a big thank you to him. He understood me like no other, and I will carry these precious memories in my heart for all eternity. Thank you, Mr. Prato, and goodbye.
Ryan Francesca is a 5th grade student at Adda Clevenger Junior Preparatory School in San Francisco, CA. She also happens to be the daughter of Little Pickle Press’ Chief Executive Pickle.