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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

They never forgot their 3rd-grade teacher

“The students in Miss Francinelee Hand’s 1961-62 third-grade class at Sabal Palm Elementary never forgot their teacher,” writes Kyra Gurney in the Miami Herald. Nearly 60 years later, they found her online — the unusual first name helped — and invited her to a reunion.

In Miss Hand’s class, they learned to listen for the rooster crowing at dawn in French composer Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Danse macabre,” four notes that sent the skeletons back to their graves. They watched “The Red Balloon,” a film that transported the 8-year-olds to Paris, far away from their working-class North Miami Beach neighborhood. Some of the schoolboys, now in their mid-60s, sheepishly recalled Miss Hand’s uncommon beauty and the swimsuit she could be spotted wearing at a nearby pool during summer break. The girls remembered a 24-year-old teacher who was impossibly glamorous, who wore pencil skirts and high heels and made each of them feel special. “My whole life I wanted to be a third-grade teacher,” said Ellen Bressler Levine, a former student who now lives in Las Vegas. “I never thought there was anything else to life.”

Their teacher, now 80 (and looking great), lived in New York City, but is now back in Miami.

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