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♥️

Mission, Reflections, Thoughts About Children

Politics in the Classroom..

Having taught back in the early seventies, post Civil Rights Movement and  having the most important opportunity teaching all children especially those that were mainstreamed from our society that practiced segregation …I  can remember just like it was yesterday,  entering into teaching with such passion that reflected my idealism and hope…As I do speak for myself;  many of my colleagues felt as I did…

I can even remember entering the classroom for the very first time, summer of…1970…doing my first field experience in preparation for my becoming a teacher….

I was going to “Change the World”…And “Make that Difference”!

The political climate of the Seventies was definitely pro education…It was more than just rhetoric… Federal programs such as Head Start with such a strong emphasis on early childhood education and Title I programs that assisted those children who struggled with their learning…were being funded and implemented…

Parenting groups also began at this time,  providing such educational and informative workshops for those parents who needed support and encouragement;  Hopefully in the end, becoming more knowledgeable and  involved in the educational needs of their child…And I too, even had the wonderful opportunity to be involved with…

I feel so blessed that I was able to be a part of this history; fueling my passion for saving children …So much so , that most of my forty years have been in primary education…

Over twenty five years as a first grade teacher, of which ten of those years, teaching children that were not on grade level…

 This  political climate of pro funding continued through the Eighties … However by the early Nineties there was a most definite shift… … the result from the direction of our politics right here in Florida, under the Governorship of Jeb Bush. .. Sadly, his politics encouraged the privatization of education, detrimentally affecting our children with the… “No Child Left Behind” Movement…And I as many feel the beginning of Public Education’s struggles….

Public Education was most definitely not a top priority any more…We teachers felt this in our classroom everyday… We had to deal with the strain of  more standardized tests, and more biased accountability…  This was now  the beginnings of vouchers and the privatization of  education…Our children were now  feeling  this emphasis, more demands and  less resources…We  teachers, feeling so unappreciated…and devalued…And more than ever the blame with all the reasons schools were failing…

“Our children were being left behind”… 

My first twenty years flew by so…Teaching was such a joy…

However, through the Nineties, and into this New Millennium with the demands and  fewer resources due to this political shift…Society’s politics has impacted families thus affecting our children… Children are now coming in to school less prepared…More of our children live in poverty and have emotional and physical issues… …And we teachers with all our creative talents have such unrealistic demands…Our classrooms are micromanaged and we are being assessed on how proficient we are…We educators have always felt being accountable is extremely essential…Children deserve the best… However we are not being assessed fairly due to the limits placed on with testing and collecting data… Many teach in overcrowded classrooms and fewer resources at our disposal….

How will the Politics of Today play out? …Thanks to President Obama Passing…The Every Child Succeeds Act, no child will be left behind

Some of the rhetoric has been ecouraging fewer tests and even giving recess back to children….

I feel this can be a fresh start, and we may be going  back to a time in History… the politics of the Seventies when all our children were important…We must prioritize funding Public Education for all our children…

 

 

Mission, Reflections, Thoughts About Children

“Letting Go”…

I am now in the final weeks of my career as a public school teacher…🍎

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Reflecting on my thirty-eight years; I have taught so many children from grades ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade; dating back from 1972, up to the present.. I even had a wonderful opportunity teaching a college seminar for beginning teachers at the University of Florida, while on a sabbatical working on an advanced course work in counseling education…

I feel so blessed…touching the lives of so many children….

I did have to retire briefly for five years due to my health…However, I still was able to advocate for children in the court system during that time as a Guardian ad Litem…

Teaching, being an advocate for children has been my lifetime passion…

I have such mixed feelings about my retirement…

It is my strong belief that I am leaving at a time our bright intelligent children, especially those from poverty, who souly rely on our public education system are not being adequately represented…Our priorities for children are hindered by an emphasis on testing and collection of data…Our schools that teach children from challenging homes have fewer resources making teachers such as myself overwhelmed and devalued by being micromanaged…And making all this even more difficult;
fewer strong, young, professional teachers will no longer commit to such a rewarding career...

For this I have such regret…

As for myself…I will always feel the need to advocate for our children, and their right to a strong free public education…
And know that I really did make a difference!

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Reflections, Thoughts About Children

“Looking for the Answers”

There has always been their rhetoric for educating our children...But now, I feel our priorities have changed...Our government in r and
What a tremendous disappointment I felt with the outcome of our 2014 elections, here in Florida….In my opinion, this election was a very important election for our children and their right to a free and strong education… Nationally, our government has allowed powerful businesses to overtake their control…

It has always been the rhetoric since I began teaching back in the seventies that all our children deserve a strong public education…I witnessed integration of public schools; strong federally funded programs began such as Head Start, giving more children that opportunity…
In my opinion, that strong sense of idealism no longer prevails…Our government does not want to provide all our children that strong education…they so deserve…

Because of such a lack of caring about children, our school day is locked into a schedule of developmentally inappropriate curriculum, the latest technology that is not really field tested; with so many glitches, that constantly does not function or slows the progress of our day…And moreover, tests that really do not match what really is essential and appropriate for our first graders…

It has been through my experience in the classroom, I have come to the strong opinion that our Government wants Public Education to fail…
They have turned over their responsibility of appropriately funding and supporting the public education of our children, to the powerful, who sell their Curriculum, Technology and Tests…to make money; definitely not in the business to educate!…

The answer is quite simple…Our Government is a Government of the People, for the People,…by the People…Give it back to the People…

For Our Children…Our Future…

Thoughts About Children

“Children…Parents”

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How I appreciate my parents… Parent involvement is essential…

Teaching at a school with a  diverse community…I do not always get the support and involvement of my parents… Our school community works hard trying to get our parents involved….We have many school activities that include children and refreshments to encourage… This year especially, with all the new curriculum and expectations of our children,  I must continue reaching for the support of our parents…..Communication and involvement make the difference…

Our Fall Festival this month… will be a time to conference with parents…Any chance I can get….