Tag Archives: teachers

Their Faces

We are all still trying to enjoy and eke out the best last bits of summer. No one wants to think about back to school things but I have to bring it up because of their faces.

I’m talking about the faces of the school children and their parents. In our community we are less that three weeks away from our 6th Annual Connect GCISD Back to School Fair where the economically disadvantaged students in our school district receive full school supply packs, backpacks, clothing and a huge array of district and community resources all in a one hour stop.

I’ve seen the joy on the children’s faces when they select their own brand new backpack and when they receive a huge bundle of supplies appropriate for their grades. I’ve seen them when they see their principals and teachers there; their school nurse and other adults in the community. I’ve seen the relief on the parents’ faces too as their children are provided for and ready to start school, equipped to learn. The teachers and counselors faces beam as well because they know they won’t have to scramble in those hectic first days of school making sure all their students have the basic supplies to be successful.

Every year we get a little better at the fair’s logistics.  This year, over 1300 children are pre-registered. We know from experience, the children and their parents will show up. This year, for the first time, we are not scrambling through the summer to provide funds for the school supplies. Because of the fundraising efforts of the Women’s Division of the Grapevine Chamber and because of generous donations to Connect, all the school supply packs have already been paid for.  I love our community, by the way.

Our community vendors, civic organizations, police and fire, faith based organizations are all ready to serve these families. Dentists are coming with their toothbrushes; vision screenings will be done by the Lion’s Club (every year we find hundreds of children who need glasses). Families will receive information about parenting and the services of GRACE (Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange). Even children who qualify but didn’t get pre-registered will receive school supplies from GRACE at the fair.

Really, we just need two things:

1) We need elementary age new backpacks. The little kid backpacks are the most fun to buy. Drop them off between now and August 3 at the GCISD Administration office, 3501 Ira E Woods Ave, Grapevine, 76051  Last year some people ordered from Amazon and had them shipped to this address. Do that!

2) And, we need you the day of the fair, Saturday, August 5 from 8-noon at Grapevine High School. 18 and older please! We like every single family to have a guide who walks them through the fair. We will teach you how and make you comfortable. We want these families to be seen, to feel loved and equipped and a personal guide seems to be a great way to do it.  Sign up here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0b4eaeac23a5f49-6thannual or respond below and we will be in touch.

Last year, a little girl I know from the community, rushed up to me to give me a hug and showed me her new pink princess backpack. She said, “I saw my principal and my teacher from last year and they said they can’t wait to see me when school starts!” Her face was radiant. Faces are attached to hearts. That little girl felt loved and valued….and, I’m sure, ready to learn.

No one wants to think about back to school just yet, but we will, together, because of their faces.

     

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The Teacher

Life is clearly a series of transitions. We should be used to that by now. So many I know are in the midst of some achingly abrupt and difficult transitions. The hardest ones seem to the be the ones no one asked for.

I have friends who are grieving the loss of their loved ones. Some are grieving breaking or broken marriages. Some are agonizing over the painful transitions of their children in trying to launch into the real world or who are struggling with addiction, anxiety, learning differences or depression. People I know keep getting difficult diagnoses. I know some right now who are transitioning from this life to the next or sitting near a loved one who is.

I have two sets of friends who are literally going through everything they own in order to move to different countries for a work season. I know some who are in the midst of big job changes, some they didn’t ask for.

My family has been wrapping our hearts around my mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis which became official last June after revealing itself slowly a few years before that. She does not like to call it that. She believes she has normal “old people forgetfulness.” We try sometimes to gently remind her that it is more than that but I don’t suppose it matters.

My mom was an elementary school teacher. She’s still teaching me, even through her own transition. As Alzheimer’s erases her memory, she is forced to stay anchored in the present: the this day, this moment, present. Her disease has made her more attentive, more reflective even. We spend Wednesdays together. One of her favorite topics is for me to tell her about my childhood. I’m a storyteller anyway and not that many people are asking about my childhood these days, so I find it delightful. She hangs on every word. She’ll say, “I remember that!” Or, “I was a good mom, wasn’t I?”

She gets more caught up in the moment we are in. Last week, at a restaurant, she said she loved me and asked if she could kiss me. One kiss led to more all over my face. With the business lunch crowd looking on, she kissed and loved on me as if I was 9 months old. I just let every single kiss soak right in.

She stays in the present. She savors things, gratefully. She loves playing Tetris and beating me, every time. She loves a nice cold glass of Chardonnay. She loves peppermints, iced coffee, ice cream, playing Solitaire and Words with Friends on her Kindle. She will look at pictures of her loved ones all day long. She often names the things she likes, like a Holy litany.

Almost every time we are together, she tells me to look at the sky. “Can you believe how blue it is?” “Look at that tiny cloud over there!” “I’ve never seen the sky look so beautiful, have you?”

I do not romanticize her disease or what is coming for all of us. I know how hard and long and ever changing our journey will be.

But for now, in this transition-no-one-asked-for, she’s still teaching. I think her lesson points can work for anyone going through a hard season.

Stay in today. It is all we really have.

If you love someone, tell them and kiss them all over their face.

Savor little things, gratefully. Name what is good in your life over and over and give thanks.

And, for God’s sake, and yours, look up. Look up.