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Posts Tagged ‘school’

Singer/songwriter Ben Rector has a song called Old Friends, and the first time I heard it, I thought of my small town and the many school friends I still keep in touch with. We’ve grown a little grayer (me? a LOT grayer), maybe added a few pounds here or there, lost our parents and former teachers, but the bond we created 40+ years ago, hasn’t been broken by time or distance. And to be honest, social media has been the catalyst in keeping us up-to-date on each others’ lives.

My tidbit of wisdom today: Stay in touch with old friends.

Friends – true friends – will stay with you in the rough times, offering a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, and many times, helping hands to get things done. You see – old friends know where you came from, what your roots are, or as Ben says, still dial your house phone. They don’t give up on you, on your friendship, just because we’re a little older. In anything, we hug a little tighter, celebrating our joys and mourning our losses together.

Don’t give up on staying in touch, no matter how busy life gets. Carve out time to get a coffee, make a phone call, send an email, meet in Galena for a Saturday shopping trip (YES!)…make more memories and spread more joy.

“Can you take me back when we were just kids
Who weren’t scared of getting older?
‘Cause no one knows you like they know you
And no one probably ever will
You can grow up, make new ones
But the truth is
That we grow up, then wish we could go back then
There’s nothing like old friends
‘Cause you can’t make old friends” (Ben Rector, “Old Friends”)

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You can’t make old friends. Classmates from Durand High School Class of 1978

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Friends through ups and downs. More ups, though!

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Girlfriends – many from kindergarten. Love each one!

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My special almost-daughter, if I were old enough.

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I’ve loved my teachers since I started kindergarten way back in the olden days. I can remember each one very vividly, which should scare some of us. Teachers are such a huge influence in the lives of our kids – mostly for good, occasionally one or two not so good. For the most part I have great memories of good teachers who loved their students and were dedicated to their calling of training up the next leaders of our society.

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First day of school, some unknown year, standing in the middle of the road

 

In first grade, my original teacher broke her leg right before the school year began so we had Mrs. Highland as our substitute teacher for over half the year. I loved Mrs. Highland. And she obviously loved her students. Because I started my “school life” with her, she became the next most important female in my life (after my mom). I’m so grateful I had that positive reinforcement in my young life. Because I could read before I got to first grade and often finished assignments before others, Mrs. Highland asked if I would like to help some of the other students occasionally. I guess I did okay, because she told my mom that “Kris should become a teacher.” I was six – not really thinking about my life’s calling at that time in my life. I think back then I wanted to grow up to be a waitress.

But Mrs. Highland was attuned to her students so well that she saw talents and giftings in her little group of six-year-olds…way before others were even looking. She encouraged us to try harder and go beyond our assignment. When we were concentrating on learning 2 + 2, she was seeing future city leaders and attorneys. While we sounded out our Dick and Jane Readers, she was envisioning teachers and doctors and priests. She gave us resources that pushed our little six-year-old minds to dream big, to see ourselves for the valuable human beings we were…even in first grade.

 

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The youngest class picture I could locate. I’m top row, second from the right.

My home town is a small village in northern Illinois with a small school of kindergarten through high school encompassed in one building. As first graders, we often saw and interacted with high school students so we had opportunity to dream about being like the “big kids.” Mrs. Highland already saw us as “big kids” and beyond.

 

I missed Mrs. Highland for many years after I left first grade, though I was able to see her often. She was always the kindest and most encouraging woman, even when I finally reached “big kid” status. And I’ll never forget her “prophecy” over me – I didn’t become an officially trained and certified school teacher, but I’ve been teaching my whole life…tutoring other students in high school and college, home schooling my own two children, teaching women’s classes and now privately tutoring elementary, high school and adult students.

Mrs. Highland saw something in me when I was six years old. She looked for the gifts each of her students possessed, even if those talents weren’t finely tuned or sophisticated. I want to be able to do that with my kids…all of them. Each student I tutor becomes one of my kids. Each one is special and unique in their own gifts and talents. Some are naturally outgoing and loaded with personality. Others are quieter, shy in the presence of me as a stranger. But I remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Highland, and how much she encouraged me to reach farther, that nothing is impossible, no matter how old you are.

When I grow up, I want to be just like Mrs. Highland.

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