Wednesday, May 7, 2014

School As Family

On April 25 I  had the opportunity to speak to students from the TOTAL program ( in the Bayh College of Education  at Indiana State University (  That date is significant because it is my mom's birthday, and she joined me at her alma mater from which she graduated in 1959.  She taught 4th grade in southern Indiana before meeting my dad, then a 6th grade teacher.  They married, he became an elementary principal, and she became a full-time homemaker.

(My mom in green with Dr. Bauserman, Dr. Leinenbach, and Dean Hill-Clarke)

As we drove through a sunny Hoosier morning toward Terre Haute, we talked about school, and I listened to her wonderful stories, stories I already knew by heart, for they had long ago become part of my story.

One that struck me was that of her 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Frances Hardy, in the small Indiana town of Scottsburg.  Mrs. Hardy, who captivated my mom's attention in the mid-1940s with the first pair of red shoes she had ever seen, encouraged her when she was a senior to attend her alma mater, what was then Indiana State Teachers College.  She even drove my mom and her mother, a widow, to campus for a visit.  As I watched the blue sky brighten with the April sun, I savored the thought of this caring woman who did not stop caring for her student in 2nd grade, but reached out to her in high school.  Would I be doing what I am doing were it not for Mrs. Hardy and her red shoes?

When we arrived at ISU, we were enveloped in pure welcoming hospitality.  Dean Kandi Hill-Clark ( and Dr. Marylin Leinenbach, Associate Professor of Elementary, Early, and Special Education ( greeted us as if we were family.  As I quickly saw, this was not a show for the guests.  I watched the interactions of these education leaders with students in the TOTAL program.  Collegiality and a familial spirit wove through the room.  The shared sense of purpose was clear, and the loving care among the faculty for these future educators evident.

After my talk, my mom was honored with a birthday cake and a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday to You" by all the students.  A tour of the Bayh College of Education, housed in the beautifully repurposed lab school, by Dr. Denise Collins, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs concluded our time at ISU.

For my mom, I am sure it was one of her more memorable birthdays.  For me, it was a warm reminder that school is family.

No comments:

Post a Comment

While I welcome thoughts relevant to discussions of education, comments that are vulgar, insulting, or in any way inappropriate will be deleted.