Reflections

My Dearest…Mary

Mary Towers has been an inspiration to both; my professional and personal life…

Our story begins when I was hired by Mr. Bill Irby, principal of Alachua Elementary School, in Alachua, Florida; in the fall of nineteen seventy-three… I was hired for a paraprofessional position…

Before then, I had been a beginning teacher at Browning Pearce Elementary, in Palatka, Florida… traveling ninety miles daily… Alachua Elementary was fifteen miles from my home; so I accepted this position… I was assigned to tutor first grade students who needed extra support…Hoping that if a teaching position would become available…I would be hired…

Mary was one of the five teachers I was to assist in an open classroom; Learning Community A… LCA, as it was called; housed five classrooms, four of which were first grade and one was kindergarten; with over one hundred students separated only by partitions…I was to be placed with my small group, in the middle of this very large room divided by furniture and mobile chalkboards… Believe it or not, it it was not all that noisy…

On my very first day, I will never forget how I met Mary… I was walking through the unit, being introduced by the team leader, Chris Hirsch, to the teachers of the team in LCA… Mary being one of them, was very busy with a particular student…A little girl in her class was in the bathroom dealing with intestinal worms, and Mary was taking care of this most challenging situation…How impressed I was by how Mary was managing such a situation …

It was then, after a year, my wish came true…I did get reassigned to teach a first grade class!

And then, opening up the very next year in nineteen and seventy-five; one of the most special of my teaching opportunities opened up!

I was to team with Mary Towers, a professional relationship lasting nine years…. ending in 1984…when Mary retired…

This special opportunity arose in the summer of seventy-five, when Mr.Irby, offered me a co-teaching position with Mary, in a newly federally funded, early childhood education program called ECPC… The Early Childhood Preventative Curriculum Program...

This innovative program was designed as an intervention for diverse, young children who were screened in kindergarten, exhibiting difficulties with their learning…

This center based program was designed with no more than sixteen students, assisted by a full-time aide who would be responsible for the reinforcement associated with specific activities; that would build upon the deficits, diagnostically determined through pre and post tests through the child’s auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile learning styles…

Mary and I each had our own group of children assisted by our full time aide.. Our class was housed within the large classroom in LCA…which now had mobilized walls separating each of the five classrooms; providing the children less distractions…

Our morning time was devoted to four specific centers that incorporated the curriculum:

Reading; Follow Up Reading, and Language Arts activities: Listening; and last “Willy Worm” an aide directed center with specific activities prescribed by the pre and post testing…

The reading curriculum utilized, the Sullivan Programmed Readers…a successful program of the time…. teaching children decoding skills in reading context within a linguistic progression of sound-symbol relationships...

Teaching those nine years with Mary really flew by!!…Sadly both our Team and ECPC Program ended with Mary’s retirement... Mary and I can look back and be quite proud of what our children accomplished from the Early Childhood Preventative Curriculum Program…

Many of our children went on to have successful lives; some going into local politics and a few playing collegiate and professional football…

Mary made this for me…when she retired…1984….

As I have reflect on our years together, this special relationship provided me the knowledge and experiences I learned from teaching with Mary…enabling me to evolve into a strong teacher…

Not only has Mary been such an influence on me professionally…Personally, Mary has been a guiding support even more so…

Having lost my mother when I was a senior in high school…I always felt a little lost…Mary was close in age to what my mother’s age would have been…And having such a warm connection with Mary…I always believed my mother, placed Mary in my life for a special reason…I have felt blessed to have Mary in my corner for these forty plus years…

Through the many years I have learned so much about Mary’s beautiful family; especially now that her husband’s recent passing,..Her four children never leave her side…

Mary will be one hundred this year, and she still lives in the same house that she and her husband built after World War II; on land that has been in her family for generations … There are always family gatherings with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other family members and close friends …

What I dearly appreciate truly about Mary is about service and sacrifice, pertaining to her husband Frank Towers ….their story; how they met and married during World War II…Frank was a true hero of the War…He was a commissioned officer in the 30th Infantry Division during the Invasion at Normandy and helped in the liberation of the Jewish Holocaust survivors on a train from the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp….

Mary was still actively involved in my life even in her early nineties…The years passing we have kept our special lunches just to keep in touch…

Then when I began teaching at Idylwild in 20O7…She and her husband offered to assist me in my move to be closer to Idylwild…Utilizing their large van and Frank’s technological skills….with my computer…

Mary would even volunteer in my classroom…I so loved and appreciated her help…

She did so much: she would help any child that needed assistance with their math or reading; at home she would make all the children flash cards for reading practice; bring in much needed school supplies; make our individual math packets…
Our children and Idywild loved her…And in 2011 Idywild nominated Mary for “Volunteer of the Year…

With my retirement in 2015…I have moved to Palm Coast, to be closer to the ocean…

I am still loving and appreciating Mary…

And… so looking forward to coming back to Gainesville; spring and fall…celebrating our friendship with our special lunch dates…

Thank you Dearest…Mary♥️

2 thoughts on “My Dearest…Mary”

  1. What a lovely tribute to such a remarkable woman. Jane and I were roommates in college and I spent many weekends at Mary’s home doing laundry, enjoying home-cooked meals, and feeling the warmth of being with a family while my parents were so far away. We had a brief visit in August. At 99, Mary is still as sharp, loving and thoughtful as she was back in the day. I have always treasured my relationship with her – and share many of your same feelings about her. Kathy shared this post and I was so happy to read it.

    Like

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