Nope, this is not a post about DonorsChoose, or any of the other great non-profits supporting teachers. This is about my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Gilmore. For me, fourth grade pretty much marks the earliest things I can remember from my school days: reading The Hobbit and Sherlock Holmes stories, my first real book reports, watching the first Space Shuttle landing and the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Mrs. Gilmore was one of my favorite teachers. The twinkle in her eye, the friendly smile, the words of praise and encouragement, they made me want to do better.
It turns out that power of encouragement: knowing each of your students and keeping them motivated, is not something that ends with retirement. I’ve been lucky enough to stay in touch with Mrs. Gilmore over the years. She and her husband (Mr. Gilmore, of course!) are members of the church in which I grew up, in Simsbury, CT. They recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary (congratulations!). When Giving Back was published, my mom suggested that Mrs. Gilmore would enjoy seeing a copy. I did send her a copy, and received a nice thank you card. And even 30 years later, her kind words, the memory of her twinkling eye and friendly smile make me want to do better.
Thank you, Mrs. Gilmore.
When I was looking for a picture of my old elementary school, I ran across this video of a CT TV station’s news segment on Building Character at Tootin’ Hills School, their outreach project of making PB&J sandwiches for the homeless and toiletry kits for people staying at a shelter. The principal (who’s served 19 years at the school there) said that it had started 25 years ago. It’s a bit frightening to realize that was still several years after I was there.