A Teacher To The End

A Teacher To The End

Tammy Waddell taught fifth grade at Sawnee elementary school in Cumming, GA.  Unfortunately, she recently lost her bout with cancer.

Obviously loved by many, her on-line obituary had page after page of remembrances from co-workers, parents and former students.  Many said she was the best teacher they ever had.

A teacher to her dying breathe, Tammy requested that instead of flowers at her service people should bring backpacks of food for needy students at her school.

As the picture shows, her wish was granted.

I never knew Tammy, but I have met many of her counterparts in the last decade.   People who give so unselfishly to the young lives in their care.

The same people politicians seem so intent on denigrating over and over and over.

Former U.S. Secretary Of Education, Diane Ravitch, Endorses Larry Lee

Former U.S. Secretary Of Education, Diane Ravitch, Endorses Larry Lee

Diane Ravitch, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education under President George H.  W.  Bush, has endorsed me in my campaign for the Montgomery school board.

I am honored and humbled by this endorsement, because, without doubt, Diane Ravitch is one of this country’s leading advocates for public schools.  The fact that she was an assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Education under President George H. W. Bush, gives this endorsement tremendous credibility.

Ravitch, whose last two books about education were New York Times best sellers, endorsed me on her blog, which receives 100,000 views per week.  She says in part:

“Larry Lee is the real thing. He is running for the school board to fight for better schools. I hope the people of his district elect him to stand up for their children and their public schools.”

Ravitch has been a member of the National Assessment Governing Board and held the Brown Chair in Education Studies at the Brookings Institution.  Nine universities and college have recognized her with honorary degrees.

She is also founder and president of the Network for Public Education.  I was on the charter board of this national organization.

For someone of this stature to endorse a candidate for a local school board is highly significant.

A Picture Is Worth A 1,000 Words

We recently blogged about the need for young children to have time to themselves, and their friends.  Times that are not regimented and organized by adults.

Times when curious young minds explore the world around them.  Times when clothes get dirty and make-believe worlds come to life.  Times when a stick unlocks the secrets of a mud puddle or a creek bank.

Christy Hiett is principal at Fruithurst Elementary in Cleburne County.  She is a great believer in letting children be children.  Which is one reason students at her school no longer have homework.

“We want our students to have more free time to play, to explore, to learn to interact with others and to read,” she says.  And she has the records of student performance from when they did homework and when they switched to no homework that validate her position.

On a recent visit with Christy she told me about her seven-year old nephew and how happy he is to wander the woods near his home with his beagle.  And she shared this picture of him and his dog, which truly speaks volumes.

Oh to know what thoughts are going through this young fellow’s head.  What may be around the next bend?  Or does he even care?  And what is his dog thinking?  More than likely he just knows that he is where he is supposed to be.  Right with the one person who loves him more than any other human.

We grownups spend a great deal of time trying to foretell the future and figure out how do we best prepare young boys like this one to be ready to tackle an unknown world’s challenges.

But the innocence of this picture of a boy and his dog gives me comfort that somehow or other, just as has been the case for generations, things will be OK.


All Dressed Up And Ready For School To Begin

All Dressed Up And Ready For School To Begin

We recently mentioned stopping by Riverton elementary in Madison County to see second-year teacher Caitlyn Shields getting her room ready for her incoming kindergarten class.

So here is her finished product, the result of many hours (and dollars) of work by Caitlyn with lots of help from proud mom, Melissa Shields, a veteran educator.

Caitlyn worked a weekend job this summer to support her “habit” of being the best teacher she can be.

She is hardly unique.  With a new school year now just days away, there are thousands of examples of teachers like Caitlyn who work quietly and diligently to ready for another school year.

And I have to wonder how many of the “instant experts” who make speeches about what is needed to fix education pause long enough from beating their chest to volunteer to help a teacher.