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The Autograph Book

When I was in elementary school,  the last day was always Play Day and autograph time. I  looked so forward to asking my teacher for her autograph and once I got it, I would run all the way home, up the stairs and into my bedroom. This is when I would open my book and read my teacher’s words. After I was finished, I would hide the little, puffy, pink and blue book in a special place until the next year.

I wish I had kept that special little book because it meant the world to me. Somewhere in the shuffle of moves, I lost it but I do remember that it looked a lot like this one…

…and on the first page, I wrote these strong and directive words because I wanted people to know that signing this book was serious business. I don’t remember where I had read this little poem but it expressed my sentiments exactly:

We ought to smile

We ought to laugh

But in this book

Please autograph. 

My teachers meant the world to me and their opinions mattered. Here was the one opportunity for each of them to write something directly to me.

Miss Hawrish was my favourite teacher – she was special. She taught me in Grade 6 and I loved her so much. On the last day of school, as I had always done, I brought my autograph book to school and asked her to sign it.  She asked me if she could take it for a while and return it later that afternoon.

I was so excited to read what she wrote. As promised, Miss Hawrish found me hanging upside down on the monkey bars at the end of the day and as she handed me the autograph book, she gave me a big hug and said, “and I mean every word I wrote, Diane.”

I was so curious to know what she wrote so I scooted home in record time.

Dear Diane,

It’s easy enough to be pleasant

when life flows by like a song

but the gal worthwhile is the gal who can smile

when everything goes dead wrong.

For the test of the heart is trouble

and it always comes with the years

And the smile that is worth all the praises of earth

is that smile that shines through the tears.   Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Diane,  I believe these words speak of your journey. You have a tender heart and a story to tell.   So, when it’s the right time, speak up. Until then, grow in wisdom and whatever you do, don’t stop smiling.  

Love Miss Hawrish

I remember two things from Grade 6 – everyone in the class had to memorize the poem, “The Swing” by Robert Louis Stevenson and I chose to memorize Miss Hawrish’s words that she wrote in my autograph book on the last day of school.

The days and years go by but truth remains and shepherds my heart. This is a woman who “stirred me up to love.”

As a matter of honour, one man owes it to another to manifest the truth. ~ Thomas Aquinas


  1. What’s your favourite memory of elementary school?
  2. Do you remember a special teacher and if so, why was this person so special in your life?
  3. Who are the influential people in your life?

Speak truth:  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.                        Hebrews 10.24





  1. I had an autograph book just like that one!

  2. jessie burgess

    My sister Ruby and I had a very special teacher in Grade l…..Miss Wirt. She took a special interest in us and took us to her house for dinner one night. I think she realized that we were from a large family and she wanted to show us that she loved us. After all these years, I remember her kindness and that love. As far as I know, she never married or had children of her own…so I think we filled a need in her life as well. xo ‘Mrs. B’

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