Memories of Mrs. Revness [1929-2007]
It is difficult to fully convey the tremendous impact that Mrs. Revness had on my classmates and me in her fifth (1966-1967) and sixth grades (1967-1968). She released our curiosity, excitement, passion, wonder and self-confidence. Formal discipline and rules had little or no place in her classes; they simply weren’t needed. For that brief window of time at least, we actually looked forward to being at school.
Instead of relying on stale textbooks, we studied Mexico (the underlying theme of our fifth grade) by building a Mexican village and playacting. We learned and performed dance in sixth grade to understand something about India. She exposed us to an incredibly wide range of culture, music and literature.
Mrs. Revness also encouraged us to discuss and debate such critical issues of the time as the Vietnam War, racism, and capital punishment. In 1967 and 1968 at least, teachers and administrators were typically frightened by the thought of children addressing these subjects. But in Mrs. Revness’s class, it seemed completely normal that elementary school kids should think and express themselves about what was happening around us. These discussions not only sharpened our verbal and logic skills, but also played an important role in developing a passionate interest in, and. sense of responsibility for, the world.
At the same time, Mrs. Revness recognized that as children we also needed fantasy. I particularly remember her daily readings to us after lunch from The Hobbit, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Wrinkle in Time — all of which I now read to my children.
We felt that Mrs. Revness viewed us with love and genuine respect even though we were children of eleven and twelve. She made us feel that we each had tremendous talent, intellect, value and potential, and that we were worth engaging and listening to. We responded with tremendous enthusiasm.
We left her classroom feeling that in life all things were possible. Many of us visited her after school for years afterwards. If I weren’t in the midst of a union election I would have flown out to be with her today.
For all the above reasons, her impact on us was profound, fundamental and continues to this day.
Overland Avenue School, 1965-68