Tag Archives: school


Teaching is the sowing of life-giving, mind-expanding  seed.  May you reap fully from what you have sown.”  -a note to  to Mary Bolton Passwater, a young woman who used to be in the JoyBelles club I led in Kokomo and has turned into a wonderful, beautiful, godly young woman (wife and mommy) who teaches – a most noble life and profession!

Teachers teach us so much.  Maybe not always what the lesson plan was about.  But they do impart things.  Back-to-school time always makes me think of the teachers I had while I was growing up.

Those schoolgirl days, of telling tales and biting nails are gone,
But in my mind,
I know they will still live on and on,

Five Star Rating System for 6 who stood out ~ Mrs. Fuchs, Mrs. Weiland, Miss Petrie, Mrs. S—-, and Mr. McGarry


***Kindergarten ~ Mrs Fuchs (pronounced f-o-x, thank-you very much):  She was a very fashionable, perfectly-coiffed 1960s woman with unnaturally blazing-fire red hair – which I spent a good 12 years constantly trying to replicate and still have great zeal for (especially when I see it on my beautiful Stephanie!).

But how do you thank someone, who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try,


Me…1st day of Kindergarten;  then second grade


*****2nd grade,  Mrs. Weiland:  I adored Mrs. Weiland.  She was so sweet and spoke words of encouragement to me – the first time I remember any adult ever doing that.  When I drew pictures, she’d say, “Wow-you could be an artist someday.”  When I wrote stories, she’d say, “I bet you’ll write books someday.”  I remember her husband stopping by in his Marine haircut during recess one spring afternoon.  They spoke briefly and kissed and we all giggled, peeking through the chain link fence, romantic fancies taking flight.  I can still remember her cute, short haircut and multi-colored frosted tresses.  I admired her so much I once colored a picture of her using at least 6 different colors to create that hair and a classmate paid me a quarter for it, which I promptly spent on penny candy at the corner market.  I wish I still had the picture.  I wish I could tell Mrs. Weiland that I love still art and writing and that her words, her cheering-me-on, made a difference.

If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters,
That would soar a thousand feet high,
To Sir, with Love


***3rd grade, Miss Petrie:  She taught me to eschew prejudice based on skin color.  We really celebrated Black History Month in her class and learned so much.  George Washington Carver and Martin Luther King Jr  (who had been slain less than a year earlier) became heroes to me.  She also introduced me to the music of Motown, and o baby – yes!  Still LOVE those Motown sounds!

Each student got to have dinner at Miss Petrie’s apartment during the school year and she led us in a loud, raucous rendition of “Found a Peanut” in the car on the way.  We also stopped at J. C. Penney’s to pick up her cinnamon-colored pantyhose.  And I couldn’t wait to wear pantyhose when I grew up.  I literally spent years in suntan-colored L’eggs Sheer Energy, YEARS!  I miss them sometimes…but not that often.


***4th grade, Ms. Lynch: She read to us after lunch.  We’d put out heads on our desks and listen to stories like Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web and Old Yeller.  It seemed we were too old to be read to and hadn’t been since Kindergarten, but I remember it being a lovely, restful, soothing time of the day – to have some one read to me.  I also learned to knit during lunchtime in her classroom.  Knit one, pearl two.  I recently bought some classics I want to read to my grandbebes even though they are learning for themselves.  For, being read to is sweet!  They will always remember that I first shared that story with them…like I do about Miss Lynch.


(-*****) 5th grade, Mrs. S_____:  That is a negative 5 stars and the reason I am not saying her name.  I can’t remember her ever saying anything at all to me except to make fun of me once because I loved Danny Bonaduce.  Tsk.  My grandma died in the spring, rocking my young world.  My tummy hurt all the time and it was very important for the desks to remain perfectly straight at. all. times…or she’d straighten them!  I missed 31 days of school that year. No wonder.  A teacher is a powerful person in a child’s life.  But they’re human and may forget that sometimes.  Just hope my grandbebes always have teachers who know their impact, who know their own strength to influence the generations through what they impart, for good or bad.


Me…my birthday party during the 4th grade; Mr McGarry and the whole 6th grade class.


**********  6th Grade, Mr. McGarry (yes-that is more than 5 stars!).  I was just an odd kid, a preacher’s daughter and I was hitting that awkward age.  I felt unsure of myself and the neat little-girl life I’d had growing up with family around for the first 10 years of my life was over.  We’d moved and I’d started started 5th grade late in a brand new city.  Then we moved again, across town, during my 6th grade year.  I’d have attended 9 schools by the time I graduated when I’d begun so nicely, having been in one neighborhood school for grades K-4th.

By the time I entered Mr. McGarry’s class, I was sullen and lonely.  I didn’t want to start all over again.  It was mid-year and cliques and friendships had been formed.  I’d decided I would just endure it.  He was very gentle and kind.  Somehow, very quietly he got me involved.  He engaged me in conversation, as if anything I could have to talk about even mattered!  Then he acted as a bridge to friendships with other kids.  He helped me become a “patrol” and signed me up to monitor classrooms of the younger kids during teacher’s breaks and lunch recesses.

Somehow in a short time, this wise and all-knowig teacher teacher, who had to be very young himself at the time, made what was sure to be a distasterous half-year then on-to-junior-high way better than just bearable.  I made great friends that year.  I actually had fun.  Academically?  Nothing stands out to me, really (which may not be what a teacher hopes for), but I remember his kindness and respect towards me and all of the other students.  And I know he taught us to respect one another, too.  The classroom was laid-back and Mr McGarry allowed us to arrange our desks as we wished (that seemed crazy wild at the time) and I LOVED game and music days in his classroom, spinning 45s on one of those big, clunky school turn-tables (“Rockin’ Robin” by the J5…”The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) or  while we played Password or some such “educational” game.  There was a dog-eared paperback copy of Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth on Mr McGarry’s desk.  And I remember knowing he really cared if it went well for me.  And he saw to it that it did.

The time has come, 
For closing books and long last looks must end,
And as I leave,
I know that I am leaving my best friend,
A friend who taught me right from wrong,
And weak from strong,
That’s a lot to learn,
What, what can I give you in return?

I went back to visit Mr. McGarry after I’d gone on to junior high, just before we moved to yet another city.  And he told me that when I had first come to his classroom, I never smiled – that is what he remembered about me.  But he told me he was happy when I started smiling – that that is what he’d wanted to see.  That surprised me.  I’d never known anyone before who was concerned with whether or not I smiled.  It absolutely made a huge difference in my life, especially so near the teen years.

Mr. McGarry (Robert McGarry, Buchanan Elementary in Davenport, Iowa 1972) – if you’re out there ~ YOU WERE THE BEST!  Thank-you so much!  I still think of you with fondness, I still thank God for you.  I am sure you didn’t even really know how much your kindness meant to me.  But thank-you for the smile, for determining to help me get it back.  And just so you know – I am still smiling like crazy!

“Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.”

I had a lot of teachers over the years.  I wasn’t able to get to know most of them very well.  My 9th Grade Algebra teacher, Mr. Harper, actually gave me his teacher’s copy of the book because he said I needed it worse than he did!  ;p  I cherish it still!  In it he wrote, “I wish I could’ve gotten better acquainted with you and I probably could have if I’d been sitting in Laurie’s seat,” in reference to the fact that I spent a lot of time chatting with a friend.  Hahhahahha!

But I know that nothing is wasted and for better or for worse, I learned the things I’d need for life from the men and women who chose to teach.  I was taught and I am grateful.

If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start,
But I, would rather you let me give my heart,
To Sir, with Love*

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called “truth.” ~Dan Rather

*LYRICS:  To Sir with Love by Lulu

1st grade.

A million years ago (or at least 43)

My first grade teacher was Mrs. Devlin, a tiny woman with very flat, calloused heels in her black, slingback shoes.  She was nice enough, though not overly warm and by the time we were in 3rd grade she would see us and exclaim, “My, my how you have grown!  You’re as tall as me, now.”  And we were.

Now the first grandson

gavin1 gavin2 gavin3

gavin4 gavin5 gavin6

Gavin just started all-day school today.  He is a first-grader in a new school near his house and he has entered that part of his life (how did it get here so fast?) where he will spend many of the prime hours of his day with children and teachers and people other than his parents (and nonna).

He loves school.  He just loves it.  I am glad, but I want to keep him surrounded with prayer and godly perspective.  I want to protect what has been deposited into his life and guard his heart and mind.  I want him to grow in the grace and admonition of the Lord and be made holy despite the secular surroundings he will face.

gavin7 gavin8 Gemma thinks she is ready, too

So, I figure, my prayer life just got amped up up as I spend more time praying for my “little red-headed Kelley kid.”

Lord, You know….Gavin’s Nonna

NOTE TO SELF: Keep declaring the awesomeness of our God to the next generation!

pictured: Do teachers always have to wear sweaters even in the heat of August?  Is that a rule?


Imagine.  You’re the new girl at school, first week of school.  8th grade.  Still desperately searching for a face you know when you get there in the mornings among the sea of junior high-ers.


There is a small group whose acquaintance I have made.  They have in no way made their decision on whether I may be seen with them.  One, the slightly more acerbic of the three, is showing the other two an ink pen on which is inscribed, “This pen was stolen from __________ ‘s Clothing Store.”  They all laugh.

I decide this is a good time to insert some wry humor, show them I can keep up.  I had just been at that particular store with my mom and though we bought a couple of things, it wasn’t “our kind of store.”  Seemed aimed at older women.  Seemed aimed at women with much bigger pocketbooks than my mom’s.

I take a breath to pace myself.  Here goes, I attempt to be low-key and nonchalant, as though I am not trying to be funny, but I know they are going to be impressed.  They giggle over the pen’s words, “This pen was stolen from __________’s Clothing Store,”  was still hanging in the air when I said,

“Well, you’d have to steal it.  Everything there is so expensive.”

That was it.  That was my profound oh-this-is-going-to-impress-them statement.  That was the best I had.  And I can truly tell you I  understand what a millisecond is because that is about how long it took for me to understand I had just said the worst, most awful, most insulting thing in the world.  I didn’t know why what I had said was so wrong, but I knew it was.

One of the girls said, of the girl holding the pen, “Meet Susie (not her real name) ___________.”  And you guessed it: it was her family’s store.

The other girl said, as they moved away from me, “Well, that was awkward.”

I stand alone near the vending machines with my wry humor  in the sea of junior high-ers, surrounded by, engulfed in awkwardness.


NOTE:  Two of those girls ended up being great friends later and didn’t even remember that incident when I got the courage to ask them.  But the girl with the pen never, ever looked my way again, never had anything to do with me.  And now that I am not in 8th grade and not so self-focused about that moment, I can see I truly embarrassed her, hurt her feelings, and I am truly sorry for that.  The pen really was cute.


My blog disappeared yesterday for at least 6 hours.  I got panicked, but the amazing Tristan got me back up and running.  I was thinking I would miss re-reading the things God has shown me that I have written here and even now go back to.  They are markers of His faithfulness, reminders of the things He has been teaching me over the past 2 years and a couple of months.  I would just really miss it if I lost them.

Dave says I need to save copies.  But I have truly used it as an online web-log=blog!



On a cuter note ~ this morning during our “school time,” as I watched Hunter coloring the crap out of his worksheet, I asked, with all true sincerity, because I was thinking perhaps he had just never thought about slowing it down and concentrating on what those lines were there for to begin with,  “Hunter, have you ever considered coloring inside the lines?” 

To which he actually replied, “No, I’m not a ‘line kind of guy.’  I’m an out of line kind of guy.”  And, he is.

Relieved and amused, all in one day!…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:  Back up writing.  Take a cue from Hunter about coloring outside the lines.

pictured: Hunter getting to do a back-flip, one week ago

Five Little Monkeys


Gavin (5)  is in Kindergarten now.   He seems rather appalled at the lack of snacks and refreshments offered by his new teacher, as when he pre-schooled with me, each completed assignment signified it was time for a break and snack!   He also knows here, even if I put “special toys” away in the garage, he is free to find them and use them at will.   He has often reported of Kindergarten: “There’s a lot of toys there, but I can’t play with them.   It’s hard work.”


Guinivere (3)  came over with her siblings the other night at 8:30 pm while her parents went to see Death Cab for Cutie.   The others fell asleep at a reasonable little-kid time, while Guini danced and pranced about happily until 12:30 am.   Not only is she a nightowl – she is an exhuberant night owl, full of joyful and loud talk!


Gemma (1)  is such a petite and tiny thing, a person is sometimes surprised by how independent and  wry she is.   Even her orneriness is sweetened by the moments she runs up to me saying, “Hold me, hold me, hold me,” over and over as she reaches her skinny little arms around  my neck and comes in close.    And then she is off again like a flash.   She can almost finish a popsicle drip free!   At one!


Hunter (almost 4)  is King of the Corn.   He helped me till the ground in the little 4′ x 4′ square a few months back.   He  spread a little manure and he pushed the corn seeds in to the ground with his little finger.   Whenever he came over, he’d water his corn field and became very delighted to see the corn pop up and grow to his knees and then his shoulders and then over his head.   We have been getting corn for a couple of weeks.   I think he likes the idea of touching and watering and playing with corn more than the eating it, but he’ll learn.


Averi (6 1/2 months) came over one night a couple of weeks ago with her hair in little ponytail “sprouts.”   When Jovan took them out to get her in her jammies and all comfy for the night, at first her hair just stayed there – sprouted out.   Then it began to come down into these side poofs which made her look like Princess Leia.   Then for awhile she looked like Jim Carrey  as Ace Ventura, but it was finally decided she looked most like the Mayor from  Whoville.   Whatever – we love her hair!   AND she just got her first tooth a couple of days ago!

These are the 5 little monkeys who jump on my beds, my couches, off my counters, through my garden and into my heart.

Have I ever mentioned how happy I am to be a grandma?…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:  Get a really good camera, for crying out loud.