Olivia and Linda, a Happy New Year

I have only one photo of children in my class beside my computer.  One.

Meet, left to right, Maddy, Allison, Olivia, Sophie, and Sarah.  These children are now in college, and still it is my favorite photo.  I have a big collection of precious photos that mean the world to me.  Yet, this is this one.  A picture speaks a thousand words.

It was taken at a party at Sarah’s house.  Each child brought their favorite book (including me) to read and share.  We had a grand time!  I still recognize the books from the photo.

I have kept in touch with all of these children over the years.  All except Olivia.  That changed yesterday.

Olivia had a Nanny, Linda, who often dropped off and picked her up at school.  While I got to know Olivia’s parents, I also got to know Linda.  It was friendly and cordial.  Then Olivia moved on to kindergarten and public school.  We didn’t keep in touch.

Yesterday I bumped into Linda at the local hardware store.  She recognized me immediately.  Her year had been consumed with health issues, moving, and change.  The bright spot for Linda was an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner from Olivia’s family.  It had been many years since she and Olivia had seen each other.

As Linda described the greeting, full of hugs and smiles, I saw her eyes sparkle.  Joy. Olivia is now a lovely, grownup young lady.  This reunion meant the world to Linda.

We briefly reminisced about school and Olivia, way back when.  Linda then  reached out and took my arm.  She had words to say, and her conversation went something like this:

Jennie, I want to tell you I remember you teaching.  I used to watch you when I came into school.  You were different.

“Different”, she said.  Linda was serious.

I watched you with the children and I learned from you.  I did.  You helped me.  I want you to know that.

“Thank you, Linda” was all I could say.  She smiled, the kind of smile that comes from letting words go that have been stored inside for a long time.  I snapped her picture, and wished her and Olivia a Happy New Year.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five 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 was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in children's books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, Inspiration, Kindness and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Olivia and Linda, a Happy New Year

  1. Ritu says:

    What a lovely meeting Jennie!

  2. Darlene says:

    I love when this happens. You can’t plan these chance meetings but when they happen, all those warm memories come back. How wonderful that you keep in touch with some of your students. Even more wonderful that you have made a difference in many lives, including a nanny. What a nice start to the New Year!!

    • Jennie says:

      You can’t plan this at all, Darlene. I dearly love keeping in touch, and the nanny’s words were the best New Year greeting! Wonderful memories.

  3. beetleypete says:

    Such lovely memories of a lifetime of teaching, and being loved by those children.
    A treasure indeed.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. What a lovely story, Jennie! I call those “God winks”. They mean so much. I’m so happy for you. Happy New Year, Jennie! – Susan

  5. What a great way to start the new year!!! The fact that all of your first class went off to college says a lot about early education. You may not think you make a great difference but you obviously do. Even on the adults around the children. I’m so glad you were able to connect. May the rest of your year be just as wonderful.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Marlene. It was a wonderful way to start the new year. I really believe that we all touch the lives of others, yet may not know it. What we do matters. I find that so uplifting. No, this was not my first class. The children in my first class, ‘84, are now in their 30’s. Ready for this? One of those little boys interned with me when he was in high school, then was my teaching assistant. He went to med school and is now a pediatric nurse. AND his son is in my class this year! ❤️

  6. Fantastic story, Jennie. It warmed my heart. Who knows whose lives we touch? You obviously have meant a lot to others. Bravo!

  7. What an amazing, and wonderful story. It’s funny how unexpected encounters can brighten ones day. I’m glad your former students are in college, and doing well. It reflects on you as a great teacher. I wish you the very best in the new year, with possibly more unexpected meetings with people from your past. Take care.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Patrick. Unexpected encounters can be remarkable. I love when that happens; and it proves that we really make a difference in the lives of others— yet we may not even know it. Here’s to more ahead! Best to you.

  8. Opher says:

    Things like that make it worthwhile.

  9. Dan Antion says:

    It’s so nice to hear about the little differences you’ve made along the way.

  10. Luanne says:

    Aw, what a sweet story!

  11. That was touching, and heartwarming! Happy New Year Jennie!

  12. You certainly make a world of difference with your teaching, Jennie.

  13. A lovely photo and wonderful story, Jennie! Happy New Year! 😄

  14. Jennie, this is a delightful telling of a truly special encounter. It really is small simple things (like a chance meeting such as this) that can mean so much. Thanks for sharing this with us. It made a lovely post. Hugs to you, and to Linda.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks so much, Teagan. Yes, it really is the little things that make the biggest difference. So glad you enjoyed the story.

    • Linda Witham says:

      Thank you Teagan. I just read comments today and it touches my healing heart. Health is improved greatly and this is better than medicine.

  15. What a wonderful meeting and such sweet words shared, Jenny. I loved seeing the picture and then hearing that all the little girls are grown up and in college. You had a part to play. 🙂 Happy New Year.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks so much, Diana. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. It’s hard to believe how grown up they are. That party seems like yesterday, and yet it still ignites stories. So wonderful.

  16. A Kinder Way says:

    What a moment. That is something VERY special for sure. ❤

  17. frenchc1955 says:

    Hi Jennie, I have nominated you for the Blogger Appreciation Award. The information can be found here: https://charlesfrenchonwordsreadingandwriting.wordpress.com/2018/01/04/blogger-appreciation-award-3/

  18. This is great. The one student you hadn’t heard from and then to hear these special words from her nanny. We should all be like Linda and let people know how we felt no matter how long ago. Beautiful picture, too. I can see why it’s so special to you.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Marcia. I try to be like Linda, because it really makes a difference.

    • Linda Witham says:

      Marcia, I want to personally thank you for your tender comment. It does matter that we release the good feelings and thoughts and share them with others. It costs nothing but is time and energy well spent! Linda Witham
      It also helps to heal the broken parts……

  19. dgkaye says:

    So touching Jennie. You are a living legacy for so many children. 🙂

  20. Linda Witham says:

    THANK YOU JENNIE. It has been fun reading all of these comments. Does the heart good.

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