In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I thought I’d tell you about a teacher to whom I’m particularly thankful.

Her name was Mrs. McPadden, and she taught fourth grade. She was not the nicest teacher in my elementary school, not by a long shot — in fact, she and another teacher used to joke about taking their “mean pills” before school each morning. Honestly, I’ve blocked out most of my memories of her class, probably due to a lingering form of PTSD. But I’ll never forget her reading.

Mrs. McPadden would read out loud to us every day, and she had a real talent for it. Really, she was doing more than reading — she performed the books for us. Through her, I discovered Blubber and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. As you can tell by her book choices, Mrs. McPadden had a bit of a subversive streak. I still remember her performance of Blubber, and how she reveled in the moment when Jill and Tracy relieve themselves on Mr. Machinist’s trees, or the moment when Linda is forced to eat the chocolate-covered ant. Mrs. McPadden came alive when she read to us, and as a result, the stories came alive.

So, thank you, Mrs. McPadden, for sharing your love of reading with me and the rest of my classmates. I can almost forgive you for the mean pills.