Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Last week was my final preschool production of the 3 Brown Bears. Before the play, the children sang songs, recited nursery rhymes, and had the most fun doing a large motor activity, Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang. They stood with their hands in a karate stance and chanted: (Moving hands  in chopping fashion) Chitty-chitty-chitty bang-bang, I can do karate. (Moving hands and kicking legs) Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, I can move my body. (Arms and legs flailing, bodies in motion as they turned in a circle), Chitty-chitty bang-bang, I can turn around. Chitty-chitty bang-bang, I can sit right down. The 3 & 4 year olds sat quietly waiting to be called for their turn to state their full name into the microphone and walk across the balance beam.

A bitter-sweet moment for me as some stumbled, lost their balance, got right back on. I showed the parents how placing my fingers on their back between their shoulder blades (not holding their hands) gave them the support and reassurance to regain their balance. I know that I have imparted my mantra, and I hope it will serve these children well through their lives: Never say, "I can't." Always say, "I can try."

As I was feeling melancholy looking back over 39 years of Spring Sings and holiday performances, I saw someone in the audience from the older kids' Pre K class. I told the mom I was sorry that this performance was for the younger class, and I thanked her for coming anyway. Then I saw more parents from my Pre K class...and then the back and front doors of the gymnasium opened, and I got a real blast from my past. 

In walked a former Goldilocks, my granddaughter, Ashley. There was my daughter and her husband, my son and his wife, and a former mama bear, granddaughter, Nicole. I  was in my glory when I saw my baby doll, Liam. And then I realized, the people flowing into the gym were not former performers and my family. They were all a part of my life.

There stood little Ryan, one of my former Baby Bears, age 29 now, and at least 6 ft tall, wearing a full beard and his trademark western shirt and bolero. Famous he is! He's a musician with Pokey Lafarge and other bands. I knew he was a genius at age 5. He thought I was, because I'd made a phone booth for my classroom. I'd obtained a refrigerator box, cut a door on one side and hot glued a wall telephone to the interior and cut out bell-shaped windows  (before AT&T, Bell Telephone was the local provider) His brother Alan, 26 towered over me, too. I was carried away by memories of both those brilliant boys.

Oh my goodness, there was Beatrice and Josephine, a former Mama Bear and Goldilocks. Everywhere I looked I saw former students and their families. Most of my kids are taller than I am and smarter, too. Recent college grads, elementary and high school grads, gainfully employed adults, and one young lady who takes three buses to work each day.  I am so proud of these people. One of my young adult girls who lost her father and has suffered deeply, told me I have inspired her to become a preschool teacher, so she too can make a difference in other's lives. Moms told me how I had helped them parent better. An out-of-towner wrote to tell me she became a teacher because of me. Another told me I inspired her to become a writer...another a poet.  

When I saw the Geigle family, I cried. Mom has always been a home schooler, but she sent each of her half dozen babies to me for two years, and she followed me from (tuition based) school to school. The adults were the same little kids in those grown bodies. When I hugged Pam, we cried.

Former colleagues and bosses made me laugh out loud. Summer day camp kids, adults now,  shared memories. YES, I did allow them to throw green jello on the gym mats and make a lime slip and slide on water day. I did frost a balloon with shaving cream and present it to my co teacher for her birthday with a knife to cut it. When it exploded the children laughed and laughed.

I felt like I was at a funeral, seeing people I hadn't seen in years. Every time I turned my head, there was someone else with open arms, accompanied by small or adult children waiting to hug me. The notes, thank you cards and flowers overflowed, as did my tears. It certainly was a tribute, an unexpected surprise retirement party hosted by my coworker Amy Cain, director, Laura Schulte, and so many others behind the scenes. I am still overwhelmed and in awe of how they pulled it off. I am so grateful for that night, and I thank God for the opportunity to have been able teach little dream job. Thanks goes to my mentor, the late Helen Roger, who taught into her 80s, She believed in me, and she groomed me.

Three more weeks of school and then, after 39 years, then...what? Who knows? 


tracboy2 said...

I'll never forget the look on your face & all the LOVE in that gymnasium. So many came up to me saying they saw the resemblance of you in me & how you had changed their lives for the better, were a Godsend to their children & the BEST teacher & mentor ever. I'm so proud of you! ENJOY your retirement. It is well-deserved.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Aw, dang, Linda. This had me crying, too! What a tribute to you and your years of serving God's Littlest Ones. A wonderful surprise, indeed!

Susan said...

Well you deserve all the accolades you can get, Linda, after 39 years of service. Oh my gosh. That is quite a record. The next phase of your life will be wonderful, too. You'll see. Susan

carolann said...

Linda that was teary eyes blog as you know going through it. You went through it fine. I applaud you all those years.

My very best friend was a teacher going on thirty years teaching preschoolers and then special needs. I looked after her last child who now is a teacher like her Mom.

She retired 30 years as a terrible disease came upon her. Precancerous.

She suffered for 7 years and then God took her home.
At the end of her time. God gave her some bright days so she taped talking to her two boys and her daughter and her Husband Peter. Apparently God gave her some humor as well.

You sound so much like her. A women who loved her work, her students. A good teacher but a teacher who wears her heart on her sleeves when others need compassion. I am so happy for you. You deserve all the Praise my dear.

Bless you.

A loving teacher is hard to find in this day and age.

carolann said...

I meant to put in my friend Lynne suffered with Pancreas Cancer Linda.
I looked and seen the mistake. So I could not change it here.
Some blogs one can.

Sorry about that.

Bookie said...

I am so glad you were "celebrated". What a nice way to exit. What is next? I am sure YOU will find a whole new world to excell in! (Porch Sitting isn't a bad job if you can get it!)

Val said...

Congratulations on a career well done! You know what Unknown says: "To teach is to touch a life forever."

Donna Volkenannt said...

What a wonderful surprise for you! Congratulations and good luck as you retire, although I suspect you will be busier than ever.

Bobby Barbara Smith said...

Linda, what a fantastic tribute and show of love and appreciation. How wonderful it must have been to see the results of your hard work and love. No one is more deserving. I know it is something you will take with you, always. Congratulation! Well done!

Theresa Sanders said...

This is a lovely post, Linda. What a wonderful surprise, and a fitting tribute to you, someone who has touched so many lives. Congratulations on your retirement. I know you will miss these school days, but I suspect you will find many more ways to touch other lives through your actions and beautiful words. Hugs!

Susan Sundwall said...

This. Was. Wonderful.

Janet, said...

Oh, I bet that was wonderful! Congratulations, you have left an impression on many young minds.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Well, I'm sitting her wiping tears away. What a beautiful tribute you were given by the people in your life. You won't ever have to ask if you made a positive know you did! The greatest gift of all. God bless, Linda. No doubt there are many lives you have yet to touch, but you will in this new chapter of your journey.

Tammy said...

Awww...this brought tears to my eyes, too. And I think a whole bunch of editors and I can guess what you'll be doing next. Congratulations!

Daisy said...

So amazing! How wonderful to be honored in such a special way. You have certainly touched a lot of lives during your career.