At the ripe old age of 36, I can remember most of my teachers from my school years. Of course, some stand out more than others. Mrs. Masters, my kindergarten teacher, who taught me to read. Dr. Hougardy, my 6th-grade science teacher, who made science fun (even though he made us prick our fingers to learn our blood type). Mrs. Douthitt and Mrs. Quiring, high school English teachers, who taught me such works as On the Beach and The Crucible. There are a few others who stand out, and many others who have faded into the recesses of my memory. The ones I’ve named here, I’ve done so because it was obvious that they cared, that they were doing so much more than plodding through the daily trials of a job. Teaching was a passion, and that resonates with kids.
Students at Will Rogers Junior High have such a treasure in English teacher Tamra Munday. I heard that she had started the junior high’s Crochet Club, and I went to check it out.
It started last fall, when one of Mrs. Munday’s students noticed that she had a crochet bag, and mentioned that she would like to learn. Being that Mrs. Munday had a pretty full plate already, she didn’t really think she had a lot of spare time to teach one student at a time about her craft, so she dreamed up the Crochet Club.
On the first day, the kids met in the hallway, and learned how to crochet a chain. They caught on quickly, and were eager to help others when they got stuck. Word about the club spread quickly, and soon the weekly meetings were moved to the library. Within a few weeks, membership grew to more than 50!
At that point, the Crochet Club faced its first hurdle: bullying. Junior high kids aren’t known for being the sweetest creatures, and members of the club were victims to name-calling and more. Mrs. Munday told the students not to worry, and that they were free to use their own talents to do what they wanted to do. Maybe those bullies were jealous because they didn’t know how to crochet! The crisis was averted, and the club settled down to their projects. At Christmas, that included making Santa beanie hats for the principals, which both men dutifully donned for parking lot duty each day.
Today, the club has settled into a pretty constant 20-30 students meeting each Thursday. As a group, they decide if there’s a project they want to do together, such as making baby blankets for a classmate’s new sibling, or hats for themselves. Sometimes students choose a project to work on individually, following patterns drawn by Mrs. Munday or her co-club founder, Mrs. Rebecca Layton, who teaches science. YouTube is also a good place to find crochet instructions.
If a student doesn’t have a project idea, he or she is free to work on the class’s collection of “granny squares”, which Mrs. Munday will crochet together to make a lapkin that will be donated to the Claremore Veterans Center.
While crochet doesn’t require a lot of supplies, it does require hooks and plenty of yarn. Mrs. Munday and Mrs. Layton have been donating and purchasing items out of their own pockets. Because of the varying amount of students that come, hooks tend to walk away. Now, students have the option of either paying $1 for the hook to keep, or they can turn in their shoe at the beginning of the meeting in exchange for a hook. I don’t think anyone has made off with a hook since!
According to Mrs. Munday, Crochet Club is great because it’s open to everyone. This is a perfect place for the kids who may not excel in sports or choir or drama. It’s a useful skill and a fun hobby, and allows them to be creative and make new friends. Mrs. Munday and Mrs. Layton enjoy it because they get to help kids and work on their own projects. In fact, they even have a couple other teachers (including a rebel knitter) who join them for the meetings.
If you’re a yarn hoarder and want to find a good home for your excess stash, let us know and we can get it to the Crochet Club. Or if you happen to find a heck of a yarn sale, let us know that, too.
Huge thanks to these amazing teachers for letting me crash a Crochet Club meeting, and even offering to teach me the basics. I really need to take them up on that offer. And Will Rogers Junior High, you have a true gift in both of these educators.