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

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


This is isn't the greatest picture of my Mom. She would be mad that I even have one of her because she was "allergic" to cameras. This picture was taken on a family wood-cut about 30 years ago. Mom and Grandma have laid out lunch on the hood of our old Polaris station wagon.
Grandma Zoe was my Mom's mom. And the apple for the teacher doesn't fall far from the tree.
Mom was an elementary school teacher before I and my brothers arrived on the scene. She wore swoopy black cat-eye glasses sprinkled with tiny rhinestones, conservative dresses, and impossibly high heels. So stylish!
Mom adored her first-graders. She said teaching that particular grade was her most favorite because "that's when they learn to read!" Mom used to tell us about a little boy who really struggled to read. Day after day after day they worked together on letters and sounds. But one day, almost as if by magic, he got it! Mom said his whole face lit up, his eyes were sparkly, and his excitement was contagious. This moment became a lifetime memory for Mom and, I hope, for her student. As for us kids, she taught us to love books. She read to us, we read to her, and we all read to ourselves. Our small basement office was stacked floor to ceiling with books -- all read and all enjoyed.
When Mom left the classroom to be home with us that certainly wasn't the last she saw of elementary school. Mom was the example of room-mother extraordinaire and she orchestrated some fantastic classroom parties, often dressing to meet the occasion -- especially on Halloween. Yes, back then the party matched the holiday. And the treats were always homemade. Her cupcakes couldn't be beat and her caramel apples were the stuff of legends.
Mom was very artistic, so when she was put in charge of the main office bulletin board it was transformed. What had been sloppy and hap-hazard became a monthly work of art. Mom said her bulletin board was the official greeter for any visitor to the school so it had better be good. What I wouldn't give now for pictures of her "masterpieces." Her artistic eye certainly viewed things differently at home, most specifically when the National Geographic arrived in the mail. The natives in our issue were always "fully dressed" in black marker.
Whether she was in the classroom or at home, Mom was a great teacher with a profound influence upon me. I can't do bulletin boards. I can't make treats. But maybe in some small way, through my service on the school board, I can help a teacher be successful. Every teacher should have the opportunity to be their very best so they can help their students to be their very best. Bright faces, sparkly eyes, and contagious excitement -- public school at it's very best.

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