Graduations, and My Role Model

Graduations are over, and it’s a time that I reflect.  The school year has ended and children move on.  Actually, they move forward.  I know they do.  Because they come back and tell me wonderful things that are happening in their lives.  They walk in with a new book, and can’t wait to tell me stories.  They simply show up to say Hi.  Oh, how they love that big hug and things I whisper in their ear.  “Once an Aqua Roomer, always an Aqua Roomer.” 

I don’t think they know why they come back; they just want to return and feel it once again.  This year I was invited to four high school graduation parties of former students.  Four!  I find that amazing for a preschool teacher.


When I first started teaching, I read a story in Chicken Soup For The Soul by Eric Butterworth.  It cemented why I teach, and became my brass ring, my shining star, my hope that one day I could be her.  Here is the story:

A college professor had his sociology class go into the Baltimore slums to get case histories of 200 young boys.  They were asked to write an evaluation of each boy’s future.  In every case the students wrote, “He hasn’t got a chance.”  Twenty-five years later another sociology professor came across the earlier study.  He had his students follow up on the project to see what happened to these boys.  With the exception of 20 boys who had moved away or had died, the students learned that 176 of the remaining 180 had achieved more than ordinary success as lawyers, doctors and businessmen.

The professor was astounded and decided to pursue the matter further.  Fortunately, all the men were in the area and he was able to ask each one, “How do you account for your success?”  In each case the reply came with a feeling, “There was a teacher.”

The teacher was still alive, so he sought her out and asked the old but still alert lady what magic formula she had used to pull these boys out of the slums into successful achievement.

The teacher’s eyes sparkled and her lips broke into a gentle smile.  “It’s really very simple”, she said.  “I loved those boys.”

She loved them and they knew it!  It really is that simple.  And as Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

People will never forget how you made them feel.

There’s much more.  In teaching, when a child feels loved, s/he can open their mind to learning.  A closed heart is a closed door and a closed mind.  Open a heart, and the world is ready to be explored.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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51 Responses to Graduations, and My Role Model

  1. No child can possibly forget someone like you, Jennie. What a treasure it is to find them coming back to you and knowing that you’re imprinted on their hearts!

  2. crazykatya says:

    You have such a beautiful mind and a beautiful philosophy. This post alone conveys so much feeling, even not physically being there to witness your experience, I can feel the love you have for your kids. You have such wisdom and share it so elegantly. You are definitely the teacher in that story. Thank you for sharing this, it’s just wonderful.

  3. Alice Collins says:

    Jennie – I really love this one! What a gift you are!

  4. Victo Dolore says:

    Beautifully said! “A closed heart is a closed mind.”

  5. MakeItUltra™ says:

    Wonderful post and your students are incredibly fortunate ✨✨✨

  6. This is a wonderful story, Jennie. It is a great tribute to you as a teacher than you were invited to four graduation parties.

  7. John Fioravanti says:

    Bravo, Jennie – well said and well done! Kids returning year after year speaks volumes about your teaching. That reminds me of my second-year Philosophy prof – he offered a couple of us some advice when he found out we wanted to teach. “When anyone asks you what you teach, don’t say “history” or “English”, say instead, “I teach kids.” As you say, Jennie, it’s all about the focus.

  8. Di says:

    Hello Jennie,
    Another beautiful post. Thank you for making me feel such joy when I read your posts.
    And what an honour to be invited to four graduations… you are doing something so right.
    Di 🙋🏻💕

  9. beetleypete says:

    If I had a teacher like you, I would come back too. Your love for those kids comes across in every word you write.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  10. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Jennie Fitzkee is at the end of the school year but reflects on the reasons why she loves to teach and why those that have passed through her pre-school classroom invite her to their high school graduations. For the same reason that I remember my first teach 60 years later.. Mrs Miller…. #recommended

  11. Sue Vincent says:

    Whether you are a teacher or not, any child who comes into your life can be loved. Just this week, several of my sons’ childhood friends have resurfaced… apparently, they all asked after me. All I ever did was feed them and make them welcome. Sometimes, it is the smallest things that make such a difference. It surprises me not at all that you are remembered with fondness, Jennie.

  12. Dan Antion says:

    Great teachers (like you) carry children forward with a love for learning. Thank you!

  13. You should never be surprised for you are clearly a quite exceptional teacher, something which shines forth in every post you do. All teachers should be made in your image but very few are.

  14. Jennie, what an amazing thing – four graduation invitations! However, I’m not really surprised when I think about it. Your caring, your passion and of course, your love make such a huge difference in all of your kids’ lives. You are such an inspiration to both children and adults. Thank you!

  15. Wonderful! You are a treasure, Jennie. 🙂💛

  16. ren says:

    This one really touched me deep, tears are flowing. Thank you for sharing your teaching roots.

  17. frenchc1955 says:

    Wonderful!!! You are an extraordinary teacher!

  18. Darlene says:

    Job well done for another year! Those children have been so lucky to have you give them a good start. Love the story by Eric Butterworth and the Maya Angelo quote. So true.

  19. I can’t even imagine where we would be without teachers. If only they could all be equally amazing, with big budgets, small classes, and lots of love to share.

  20. Beautiful! Just beautiful, Jennie! And I’m sure you have the very same effect on your school kids! 😄

  21. jboults82 says:

    This is a beautiful post that truly touched my heart. Thank you!

  22. Wonderful work you’re doing, Jennie ❤
    You're an inspiration to students from tip to toe to head… with heart 🙂 💜 Jackie@KWH

  23. I read that Chicken Soup story as well and loved it. You are that kind of teacher and I know your students will remember you always. You will have had an impact they can only later understand.

  24. gumersindo says:

    ! I register that Chicken Soup history as well and loved it.

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