My little sister was responsible for getting me the best after-school gig an academy girl could have. She told her second-grade teacher that her big sister needed a job, and before I knew it, Mrs. Irma Brayley agreed to let me grade papers for her after school.

It was fun. Every afternoon I’d walk across the parking lot to the elementary school side of Loma Linda Academy to Mrs. Brayley’s room, where wiggling second graders would be winding down their day. She’d have the worksheets she needed graded ready on the semicircle-shaped table by the window, and I’d settle into a small yellow plastic chair to correct math or vocabulary pages.

Mrs. Brayley was special. Her kids loved her—I know my sister did. She was kind, fair, and ran a tight ship in that class. When parents stopped by to discuss their child’s difficulties, I’d listen to the ... »
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