One Sunflower

spare room

On Mondays, my classroom is a “spare room.”  I don’t have students attending on Mondays and I’m usually occupied logging data on my computer, doing home visits or convening with others for professional development or other meetings.  Space is currently a primium at our school; every office, every hallway and cubby hole is occupied every day over the full course of the day.  So on Mondays and after my students leave the other 4 days, it isn’t uncommon for little happenings to occur in my classroom for brief parts of the day.

Such was the case this morning and what a delight it was for me to be a fly on the wall in my classroom.  A retired couple in our district, who are frequent volunteers in classrooms, had gathered all kinds of gift items and set up a little Christmas shop for children of single parent families.  The students were brought to the room in groups of three and with an adult helper they browsed the tables for one big thing and one small thing and then wrapped them up, wrote a card and slipped it into a large shopping bag to take home.

I watched slyly from my desk and could tell when the realization of what they were doing sank in.  Their eyes would change, a little smile would form on their lips and a few of them got a bit giddy.  It was absolutely precious to watch.

I didn’t get much work done this morning.



n. a spirit of familiarity and trust existing among friends

The email came last Friday, only the second day of our long week of parent/teacher conferences.  Intense meetings with parents was reminding a fellow teacher about her own family and she wrote:

“It makes me feel more like a family when I hear  about your families and share about mine.”  Included in the email were photos of her kids and one of herself as a child in her dad’s lap.

About an hour after her note another one came from our principal, a proud daddy eagerly waiting for the end of a long day so he could drive south to watch his daughters compete in a championship soccer game. “I’m just busting at the seams with pride too…”

At the start of this year, our staff made some promises to each other to boost our collegiality.  One of the suggestions for how we could do this was something we’ve come to call “rah rah” – the act of supporting and cheering for each other.

I’m hoping these emails continue this week.  I hope to hear more about the families behind my comrades here at school.  I put forth my own two cents today with this letter, poem and these pictures:

“We couldn’t do what we do with the intensity we do it if we didn’t have the loving support of family, friends, pets, colleagues.  Going home exhausted each night, it is those who sit across from us at the dinner table or who call us on the weekend to see how we are doing, or who nuzzle us as we (finally) relax, that fill us up so we can do it all again.

I was inspired to write a poem about my sources – and I hope someone else will pick up the torch now and continue the sharing.  This is a time of year to express gratitude not just for those sources but for the incredible work done each day as we are sources for our kids, their families and each other.”

Time and Time Again

Time and time again, in time 
I steadied with hand,
lifted to shoulders,
guided with words,
motioned with glances.

You were a child, my child,
a growing child,
the love of my life,
loosed by birth into the world
and I held you safe in my arms.

Now with time,
and more time gone,
no longer a child but still my child,
my grown up child,
you walk with a stride so strong and sure,
standing shoulder to shoulder,
and eye to eye with me.

But time and time again,
we’ve remembered to lean into each other.
Your hug on my shoulders lifts me up,
your  touch on my hand steadies my way,
loving words spoken,
knowing glances shared between us.

My child, my child, my forever child,
you’re the love of my life for all time,
loosed in the world
but held tight to my heart. 


one purple crayon – pass it on

In May of 2011 she tearfully announced to us, her fellow staff members, that she was opting to transfer to the middle school.  She would miss us but was excited about the challenge of moving to a new grade level, new staff, new building.

Being the preschool teacher in this building, I taught at the opposite end of the school from this 5th grade teacher.  But I came to know this lively, small statured young woman to be a powerhouse in our staff meetings.  She was  someone who often sought clarification as we made decisions and I admired her as an exemplary professional. (Another memorable trait was that she occasionally wore plastic tiaras on special occasions or when she needed cheering up.)

Last week I bumped into this teacher.  She had moved to a new school once again and had returned to teaching 5th grade.  Grinning at me, she put her arms on my shoulders and thanked me for the motivational note I had passed to her when she left our building.  “I don’t know if you remember what you said but I keep it posted and in fact, I was just looking at it today.”

“And,” she added,  “I still have the purple crayon.”

I don’t remember what I wrote in my note.  But I do remember tucking in a purple crayon, a reference to that endearing children’s book.  On the day I bumped into her, it was me who needed a purple crayon, as I was feeling a bit blue about how my year is shaping up.  So her gratitude was a reminder I can write my own destiny – purple crayon in hand, or not.