Sunday, January 29, 2017

That Child

Blond hair that's matted but if it's
would give the air of "little
 girl," rather than a waif. 

 She's not a stray, nor is she lost......not yet.

 Yet her needy gaze haunts me.

Shy at school because reading
 is so difficult now,
an elusive link to learning.

Building trusses 
to open wide her world is a challenge,
a right, and a need. 

Brush aside uncomfortable feelings
and find ways to reach her and teach her.

More than we dare to dream
beyond the dim days of struggle, 
children around us
deserve a dose of "possibility."

Friday, January 20, 2017


"We need to move beyond the idea 
that education is something that is
provided for us and toward the
idea that an education is something
that we create for ourselves."
                                ~Steven Downes

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mrs. Padgett

When you're young and jumping into the work world with that first full-time position, it's quite a whirlwind.  Juggling people, politics and unfamiliar responsibilities in any job
makes for extremely long days.  
Enthusiasm is essential in those situations, especially
 when you haven't a shred of experience! 

Without a support system but a reservoir of ideas, you simply dive headlong into your "new adventure" with hope and grit.
Such was the start of my teaching career at St. Francisville Elementary School.

It was after one of those long, long days that
I looked up to see the grandparent of one of
pupils standing in the doorway of
second grade classroom.  

As the years went by it wouldn't be the only time that she stepped across the threshold of that room, where countless
numbers of youngsters joined into lessons and learning.  
The reason for her impromptu visits?  Each time Mrs. Padgett wanted to "discuss" a situation with me.

I was pleased but so surprised to see her.  
It was a bitterly cold day; I assumed she wished to talk about her grandson Gabe, one of my students.  He lived with his parents in a home directly across from our school  playground.  I erred about her motivation, for she asked that the visit and conversation remain private.  I soon understood why.

She was concerned about a child in my room that had no boots.  He was a playmate of Gabe's and her grandson had brought this fact to Phyllis' attention.  Gabe reasoned with her that because there was so much snow on the ground, he was willing to give up his own winter boots for a friend.  She had
an entirely different notion, 
pressing money into my hands.

The next day I figured out a way to approximate the size of the little boy's feet by doing a math lesson where each child
traced the outline of their foot and cut it 
out.  We graphed
the results of the entire group.  

The boy had a very small foot but because of
Phyllis, he soon had winter boots.

Over the coming years, she appeared in the doorway of that second grade classroom several times.  Her visits were never 
judgemental and our many conversations were molding me in an important direction.  I was thankful that her intuition about the youngsters or their needs was always in the best interests of the building and the many families within the community.  
She didn't criticize, she acted.

School supplies are a must for kids; she didn't question why they had none.  Money due for a Scholastic book order I was about to submit?  She seemed to know the youngsters who never got to participate, wanting to make sure they got an opportunity to choose a title from our order blank.  
She thought about those pupils in our room who wouldn't be bringing a present to exchange during the annual Christmas party too.  "Please take this and use the money for them," she would insist.  Smiling, she'd stress that the donations were to remain anonymous.  "Remember, please keep this just
between the two of us," were always her parting words.

That smile, how could one dismiss it?  
I never will because that straight forward, caring philosophy she bestowed has remained a loving part of my days.  

Did she realize how our secret visits in that classroom long ago were life changing?  Yes, conversations that translated into "an eye for children," that each of us can commit to.  The wellbeing of the young, a gracious gift and heritage that will always 
sustain me....and should sustain us all beyond the day.  

She loved her husband, children, grandchildren &
great-grandchildren unconditionally.  She told me once
that she felt blessed to be able to help others and be
champion for those who truly needed it.

I think of her with great love when listening to 
Tim McGraw's "Humble and Kind," as if it's her song:

I'm really the lucky one & I thank you Mrs. Padgett.