Angela Kelsey

Tell the Story

Short But Sweet

Filed in Stories, voices :: March 17, 2012

I remember my elementary school teachers’ names and faces and words and clothes–Mrs. Gaddy (1st grade), Mrs. Stephens (2nd), Mrs. DePuy (3rd and 6th), and Mrs. Tabachi (5th)–but 4th grade is a blur. 

Meredith Shadwill remembers 4th grade in today’s Nest-Making guest post Women’s History Month, and celebrates the empowering influence Mrs. Notowitz.


My fourth grade teacher Mrs. Notowitz was nick-named “Not A Witch” for a very good reason – she was just about the sweetest teacher you could ever have. Aside from reading us Roald Dahl’s The Witches and bringing in delicious chocolate-coated cookies dipped in nonpareils, she taught me a very valuable lesson about self-worth.

I was always the shortest girl in my classes until sometime in middle school, and kids picked on me as a result. One particular day, the boys were teasing me in the classroom about how small I was, and my uncontrollable tears spilled forth. Seeing my humiliation, Mrs. Notowitz took me into the hallway.

“Great things come in small packages,” she said, “like rubies and diamonds.”

She comforted me, and I cheered up thinking about being compared to such shiny objects. Whenever I’m feeling less than fabulous and less than capable, her words remind me to continue shining brightly.

She encouraged me to embrace myself for who I am regardless of what anyone else thinks of me.


Meredith Shadwill is an English consultant, part-timer, wife, and mother of three living in Northwest Georgia near the Chattanooga metro area. She studied English at the University of Florida, learning about electracy directly from Dr. Gregory L. Ulmer himself during her final year of undergrad. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English in December 2006. When Meredith’s not writing, editing, proofreading, or tutoring, she’s lounging, baking, cooking, doodling, dancing, reading Hemingway, enjoying music, or just generally going with the flow of life.

Meredith blogs at and tweets as @sailorscorpio.


Looking for more nest-making? You can find it here and here and here and here and here.

Filed in Stories, voices


  1. Lynne Barrett

    Mrs. Notowitz’s action exemplifies her own point: a “small” moment taken, a few careful words said, and all these years later you remember because she handed you a gem that you’ve been able to keep, bright as a ruby.

    • Angela

      I was the recipient of many gems, treasures I will always have, from Lynne, my MFA thesis director. Thank you, Lynne, for stopping by.

  2. wholly jeanne

    ah, mrs. notowitz . . . how fortunate you are to have had her in your life and how fortunate she is to have had you in her class. you’ve said a lot in this little post, sugar, and i love the way you’ve kept everything tied together, supporting your basic premise . . . right down to the shortness of the post. perfect. xo

  3. kelly

    i love this, i had a teacher that said a very similar thing to me once, and i, too, have never forgotten. i hope both women know what a difference those moments of kindness made.

  4. Sally_G

    Thank you for this shining memory. It is amazing how a few words of insight from a Beautiful Soul can change a life forever …