Friday, June 7, 2019

Mrs. France's "Oh My French Silk Pie!"

  My boys have had some fabulous teachers throughout their elementary school experience, but Mrs. France really takes the cake (or pie, rather)! Our family has been lucky enough to enjoy her beautifully nurturing third grade classroom twice now - once, two years ago with my oldest son, Wilson, and again, this year with my middle kiddo, Henry.

  Mrs. France does a better job than anyone I have ever seen at nurturing all of the children in her care. And between you and me, I'm sure we can all agree, that some children are just more difficult to love than others. But, Mrs. France genuinely expresses sincere love to each and every child in Room 8 - regardless of their academic performance or behavior. There is not a student in her classroom that goes home feeling unloved at the end of the school day, as evidenced by a long line of third (and fourth and fifth) graders waiting for a goodbye hug long after the last bell has rung.
  Mrs. France is the master at finding something special to celebrate about each child. For example, when my oldest was in third grade and was first introduced to the concept of rounding numbers, he developed a strategy that Mrs. France named Mount Wilson. To my understanding, Mount Wilson is still taught in her class - much to the delight of my firstborn.

  Mrs. France also encouraged Wilson to bring his "I have a dream" speech to life by providing an opportunity for him to present his dream for a Buddy Bench to both student council and the school principal. With her support and cheerleading, he successfully built and installed a bench to facilitate friendships among lonely students on his elementary school campus - a legacy that will continue long after he heads off to middle school next fall. 

  So, when my second kiddo, Henry, entered third grade last August, he couldn't wait to impress Mrs. France with his own set of talents. Henry is my little perfectionist and always puts extra energy into making all of his schoolwork neat and accurate. His effort did not go unnoticed by Mrs. France, who coined the term "Oh my Henry!" He is always delighted when she recognizes his effort in class or on his homework with this personalized expression.

  But, Henry is really a shining star when it comes to math. This school year, Henry flew through all of the third grade addition, subtraction, and multiplication timed tests...and even completed all of the fourth grade timed tests Mrs. France made available to him! I couldn't have been more proud when he eagerly shared the long rows of stars next to his name on the math charts in the back of the classroom.

"Dear my favorite teacher, Mrs. France,
  You are an awesome teacher! Ever since my brother was in your class, I couldn’t wait to have you as a teacher.

  In the first place, you make learning so much fun! I love that you do timed tests, let us read in the comfy pink chair, and teach us cursive (because most teachers don't anymore).

  Equally important, you are a very welcoming teacher. At the end of everyday, you give us a big hug and say, ”See you tomorrow” or “Have a great evening.” If one of us says that we have a stomachache or is sad and and crying, you tell us that we can sit outside, lay on our desk, or get a drink of water.

  Mostly, you’re a great teacher because you do cool things with our class. You reward us with treats, you have the best class jobs like President and Vice President, and you let us play on chrome books. If we miss a recess because our class was late, you give us a bonus recess. Plus, if it’s our birthday, you give us a bag with candy, a pencil, and a homework pass, our class sings to us, and you let us pick what timed test we want to do.

  You are truly the best teacher ever! I'm so glad that you got to be my teacher this year.


  If there is one thing I have come to learn about Mrs. France, it is that she loves (and loves to share) a treat. Daily, she generously doles out handfuls of M&M's and Jolly Ranchers to her students as rewards for a job well done. She even provides a little bowl of chocolate goodies for her parent helpers to partake in. So for Mrs. France's pie, it seemed only natural to bake a sweet, chocolate classic - French Silk Pie. Or more specifically, Mrs. France's "Oh My French Silk Pie!"

  Seeing as how this is the very first pie Henry has ever led the charge in baking, I was eager to show him the pastry ropes. He was a natural at measuring, mixing, rolling, and crimping the ingredients for our traditional pie crust.

  While the crust baked, Henry melted bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler. As the melted chocolate cooled to room temperature, we creamed butter and powdered sugar using my all time favorite appliance - my pink KitchenAid stand mixer. To the filling, we added the melted chocolate, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. 

  Then for the magic ingredient that really makes a french silk pie smooth and luxurious - eggs, fresh from the coop. We added four, whisking for a full five minutes after the addition of each egg. (As it turns out, the patience required for this task is very trying for a nine year old boy.)

  But, once we had piled high the fluffy, chocolate filling into the pie shell, it was time for Henry's favorite part - the whipped cream! He opted to give the entire pie a hefty layer of whipped cream clouds before meticulously arranging our best attempt at chocolate curls. And there you have it - Mrs. France's "Oh My French Silk Pie!"

  Third grade is such a magical year full of wonderful memory making experiences - learning cursive, stuffed animal journals, holiday celebrations, special classroom jobs, and last but not least, Pioneer Days. Although each of my sons have their own, distinctive learning styles, they have both had incredible third grade years under the guidance of Mrs. France. As we once again make our way to the fourth grade corridor next fall, we will miss the warmth and love that Room 8 holds. Although you can be sure, Henry (and I) will be waiting outside Mrs. France's classroom door for a hug right after the last bell.

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." - Charles M. Schulz