The teacher is eleven years old
Quiet in the school yard. If you close your eyes, it may seem as if the courtyard is completely empty. But in fact, there are first-graders - a whole class, almost thirty people ...
... They are no longer small to scream and be capricious, if something did not turn out the way they wanted. But not too adults to readily accept a new burden on their shoulders and immediately start living on in a new way. They need time to understand and adapt. And to get used to the idea that from today they will unexpectedly have to learn in different classes. Part of the guys will be engaged with second-graders, part - with the third and fourth classes. What can you do - the war. Their young, beautiful teacher, Barbara Stepanovna, volunteered this morning to the front. There is no one to replace it, so the class is divided.
When the temporary school director, Sergey Mitrofanovich, announced that the class had been disbanded for the time being, the guys were taken aback.
- How - went to the front? Why haven't we been told before? How long have we been divided? And why can't we all learn with second graders? - threw questions director.
He sighed bitterly. Sergey Mitrofanovich could clearly answer only the last question: in the office everything would not fit, so they divided. And the rest of the questions turned out to be much more difficult. It’s impossible to tell the kids that Varvara Stepanovna is helping the partisans, and now there, not far from the front line, her help is needed. How long are the boys and girls left without their teacher? Unknown. If all goes well, Varvara Stepanovna will return quickly. And if not...
“Everyone needs to do his own thing,” Sergey Mitrofanovich said at last. - And your most important thing now is to study well. Do not worry, stay while in different classes. There is no big trouble, you are still all neighbors, you live in one village and see each day. While learning so, and there we will think of something.
And the guys fell silent, upset by the unexpected news of changes in their fate. It became quiet in the yard ...
... And an hour later in the corridor of a small school in the village of Yerilovka of the Yelets district there was a cheerful hubbub. This whole first class was in a hurry for lessons with a new teacher, Matvey Ivanovich. Matvey Ivanovich was tall, very thin, with freckles on his nose and a mischievous gleam in his eyes. He was eleven years old.
... At that moment, when the guys were standing in the courtyard, he passed by the school. When he saw the “sparrows of the underworlds”, Matvey called the first-graders to himself, he felt that he could not remain indifferent to their sincere sorrow.
Matvey came for a week from Yelets to her grandmother Katya to help her move to the city, to him and his mother. Departure was scheduled for tomorrow. And now, seeing the orphaned children, the boy decided to stay at least for a week. And there - come what may!
He boldly approached the director:
- Hello, Sergey Mitrofanovich! Can I be their teacher? You are welcome! I know the whole multiplication table, I can read well. I will teach them lively.
Sergey Mitrofanovich was taken aback:
- Where are you from, boy? How old are you that you decided to enroll in a teacher?
- Eleven. I moved to the fifth grade, I study in Yelets. Now I live with my grandmother, here, with you. Mom is afraid that the fascists will return to Yelets, so she sent me to her. I will live in Yerilovka for the time being, - Matvey invented on the move.
- So now you will come to our school, if you are going to live here?
The boy realized that he had fooled. I was confused, but then I found the strength to honestly say everything:
- No, I did not come here for a short while. In my school I will miss a little, but this is nothing, I'll catch up. I will do it myself here too, and my mother, so as not to worry, I'll write a letter or pass on some other news. Sorry for them, miserable of these. Well, how will they study with their elders? They will understand nothing, they will sit in the corners and wipe the tears away; there will be no time for teachers in the class for the teachers. Stop loving school for some reason!
The face of the teacher brightened. It turned out that he, an adult, trying to adjust the situation, was confused and did not realize at all what the first graders themselves would feel. And this lad, on the contrary, immediately put himself in their place - and here he must, regretted, forgetting about his affairs.
- Well, take the guys for a week or two, Matveyka! - said Sergey Mitrofanovich. - I will tell your mom everything, it will be faster. And then, if their teacher is delayed or does not return, I will ask my sister to work with them. She is now working in the hospital, in Yelets. Well then! Here, too, human life, you can not pass by.
Sergey Mitrofanovich led Matvey to first-graders:
- Guys, found another way! Here is your new teacher, Matvey.
- Oh, how small! - disappointedly stretched red-haired Lenochka.
- But strict! - Suddenly suddenly the voice of "teacher". - And I am not Matvey, but Matvey Ivanovich, okay?
- I see, I see! - chirped guys.
And a cheerful noisy crowd went into the class ...
...- Today lessons are over! Allow everyone to get up. Who has questions, stay. Tomorrow I am waiting for you at the school's porch at eight zero-zero.
But all the guys remained in their places. Matvey was confused.
- What are you, all did not understand something from the lesson? Smirnova, you are the headman, answer first!
Valya Smirnova got up:
- Matvey Ivanovich, Varvara Stepanovna always read us after lessons ... Maybe you read them too? Something more interesting ...
- Phew! - “teacher” sighed with relief and smiled. - Well, there are sparrows! And I was afraid that the lesson was poorly explained.
Not three, as it was scheduled, but about six lessons Matveyka spent on his first working day. At first the guys didn’t obey him very much, dabbled and laughed. But he turned out to be a really strict teacher and quickly brought order. Shalunov - in the corner! When all the empty corners in the office were over, Matvey threatened to put the violators of discipline into the corridor: there are a lot of places and everyone will know who is behaving badly - the shame will be on the whole school.
The second "catch" for the young teacher was the explanation of the lesson. He himself knew the alphabet by heart, but how clear is it to explain to kids, where are the vowels, and where are the consonants? This is where you will understand that pedagogy is a very complex science ... Matvey tried to sing the vowel sounds. At first, things went smoothly. But when they got to the letter “m”, the guys started muttering and longing together, unanimously attributing this sound to vowels. So the young teacher almost sat in a puddle. Well, quickly guessed:
- Vowels need to sing with your mouth open!
In mathematics, he told the children about the addition. I took two caps and began to put pebbles. True, there was also a surprise here. At first, instead of pebbles, the boy invented oranges. The whole class wanted to eat together, some girls even barely held back tears - they didn’t try such a delicacy ... So they replaced the oranges with pebbles.
But on reading everything went smoothly. Matvey himself decided to read the guys. He knew a lot of poems and began with Lukomorye. The Sparrows sat like spellbound - it was clear that the former teacher had read them a lot. And it turned out that reading was stretched out after the lessons.
... Nine days of spring 1942, Matthew was a teacher. Nine nights I didn’t sleep, preparing for the lessons - from the very first lesson he understood that the teacher needs good preparation, otherwise the lesson will be released, but the crush. And for nine days I was worried that I would have to leave soon for Yelets, home. But on the tenth day Varvara Stepanovna returned. Everything fell into place.
The boys cried, seeing off their teacher. And Matvey Ivanovich barely restrained tears. And when he returned home, he wrote down between the lines on an old newspaper (he did not have another paper) the verses he read to the children. And sent them a letter to the school address.
... For many years Matvey Ivanovich received letters from different parts of our country. Working as a geologist, he did not forget about his “sparrows from the undersized” and often wrote them answers. Grown-up students also remembered their young teacher. Because he taught them not only to count and distinguish between vowels and consonants. And also - kindness and love for people.
Away from war
The door to the Khokhlovs' house was thick and oak. She creaked as she opened her eyes - thus greeted the guests. And the guests drove here every evening, in any weather. Redheads, freckled, fair-haired, dark-haired, curly — that was what they were, the guests were the pupils of the elementary classes of the school of the village of Bigildino in the Dankov district.
The school is big, and the teachers are few — the men went to the front. Primary school teacher Zinaida Matveevna was left alone with the younger children - the first, second and third grades. So Ilya Khokhlov, a sixth-grader, decided to help Zinaida Matveevna to arrange a hut reading room for boys and girls in her house.
There were thirty-eight books in the Khokhlovs' house. Twenty-one Ilya's parents bought before the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. And seventeen gave Zinaida Matveevna, when Ilya shared with her his idea.
The reading room opened on the first of September 1941. On the first evening, three Kuzmin brothers came to Ilyushka: Slava, Seryozhka and little Peter. And also a first grader Helen. Ilya showed the children the books:
- Choose any and read on health!
- And we do not know how, - Lenochka stretched out and reached for Alexander Pushkin's “The Tale of the Golden Cockerel”.
“Yes, we don’t know how,” Petka confirmed efficiently and, standing on tiptoes, pointed to Tolstoy's “Filippka”. - Honor us better you, eh?
Ilya was confused: it turned out that he had not provided for the most important condition of the hut-reading room. And the boy himself read aloud, as the teachers said, "as a sexton, without any expression." Well, what could I do ...
Illya looked at his guests, thought and shook his head:
- Okay! Well, sit down quickly!
On the bench fit Helen with Petka. Slava and Seryozhka sat right on the floor. And Ilya approached the window. He did not want to spend the precious candle until it was dark on the street and it was possible to make out the words in the book. And slowly he began to read, with difficulty sorting out small letters in the darkness:
- There was a boy, and his name was Philip ...
In the evening of the second of September, the guys came to the reading room twice as much. And the third - even more.
There were only two shops in the house - for the little ones. Older guys brought with them floorboards, mats, and even just old clean rags. Sit down side by side, warming each other. Ilya was getting to the window and reading until dark. And when he could no longer disassemble the letters, he lit a candle stub.
Most often, the children were asked to read Leo Tolstoy's “Stories for Children”. Ilya already knew them by heart, but he was still worried when he read about the friendship of a lion and a dog and a brave boy Vasya, who saved the kitten from dogs. And all the guys knew that the dog died and the lion died too, but still every night they hoped that everything would be different this time. And little Helen cried because the story, contrary to her expectations and hopes, ended sadly again. And all died away from excitement, when the boy Vasya rushed forward, covering the kitten. And the first grader Katya pulled herself at her pigtail and whispered: “Do not have time!” And sighed with relief when the hunter drove the dogs away from Vasya again.
Every evening the war seemed to bypass the Khokhlovs' house. Heavy waiting for letters from relatives, hunger, cold, danger, sadness - everything receded when the creaking door was closed, letting the last guest into the house today.
And Ilya read better and better every day. And it doesn’t matter that in the mornings his voice was a little hoarse. But in the evenings, he again and again led his younger friends away from the war.
... Ilya Khokhlov really wanted to become a math teacher. But when his father and two older brothers did not return from the front, he had to enroll in a vocational school to help his mother raise a younger sister. Golden hands were at Ilya Aleksandrovich. He became a carpenter. He made furniture. He lived in Lipetsk. Even an ordinary chair, Ilya Aleksandrovich, was a master with love for his work and fiction.