Culp, Zena M.: 6th Grade, Pforzheim, Germany: 1974

6th Grade Matters

It was the Autumn of 1974 and I was just starting  6th grade at Pforzheim Elementary School in Pforzheim, Germany.  It was the fifth elementary school I had attended in five years.  As a child in a military family, it was not unusual for me to change schools, but it was very unusual to find myself in a tiny school sharing a teacher and a classroom with 4th and 5th graders.  I wondered, “What am I going to learn with 4th and 5th graders in my class?”  I was not happy.  As a result, I had a terrible attitude, and I was rude to my classmates and my teacher.   I remember frequently interrupting my teacher during class by blurting out “I already learned that!”, “I already know that” and “I learned that when I was 5 years old.” Finally, my teacher, Ms. Joan Maas, gently pulled me aside and said three things to me:   1) “You’re smart, but you’re not smarter than me” 2) “I can teach you” and 3) “You’re making the other children feel bad.”  I went home and cried because it had never occurred to me that my words were hurtful, or that I made the other students feel bad.


Davis, Cyndi: Pforzheim Elementary School

I was there for fifth grade with Mr. Birdsell but sixth grade was the best. Our teacher, Ms. Joan Maas took us on an adventure. I can tell you almost every book I read that year. Ms. Maas had a friend who built a geodesic dome out of card board. We did plays and puppet shows. Ms. Maas had a collection of comic books about history. The two big things were our trip to Hinterbrand/Project Bold. It was a chalet that belonged to Hitler. We went on hikes and obstacle courses. We rode on a sky lift. We saw an avalanche from way off. In the salt mines we rode on a boat. Ms. Maas taught three of us to play guitar. She also took us on Armed Forces Radio to sing for Martin Luther King’s birthday.

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