"God must love the common man, He made so many of them..." Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Grandma Zoe

If you follow the link to my local school board bio http://www.sthelens.k12.or.us/ you will find an off-the-cuff answer as to why I decided to run for the position. My Grandma Zoe, pictured above, was really why, and the story behind it was just too big to condense.

This is my favorite picture of Grandma -- and it was a challenge just to get it. Grandma wouldn't hold still for any picture, except for her faculty photo every fall. She was a middle-school English teacher and high school librarian for years in rural southeastern Idaho. She was a teacher when the dress code included high heels and a girdle. She was a teacher when penmanship was part of the standard curriculum. She was a teacher when teachers felt valued and respected.

Mandatory retirement was the end of Grandma's more than 40 year teaching career. She was madder than a wet hen about it, too. So my two younger brothers and I became her students. No subject was off limits. Grandma tutored us in everything from long division to the Revolutionary War, and yes, even penmanship.

How can I ever share all that Grandma taught me? It was far more than just the usual and customary. She instilled a love of learning, a love of teachers, and a love of students. She instilled a sense of responsibility and duty to the public school system.

Grandma loved being a teacher. I remember once, in the local grocery store, meeting a former student. He told her that she had been a great influence for good and thanked her for her dedication. Then he said, "It was so good to run into you -- you haven't changed a bit after all this time." She paused for a moment and then sweetly asked, "Have I always looked so old?" Grandma and Miss Clairol had a long friendship after that.

Grandma was a big influence in my decision to run for a local school board seat. It seemed only right to repay in a forward way for all of her service. Next time, I'll introduce you to my mother who was a first-grade teacher and a moving force in my life.

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