The Legacy of Milly, Part 1

Every good story has a great backstory.  To know how Milly came into my life and tell you about her early years in my classroom, I have to back up and tell you what really happened.  It’s a great story, and began what would become a legacy.  Hang onto your hat!

“It happened like this…”

My husband and I were at a fall wedding in Philadelphia.  We had an hour to spare, and went to the historic district to visit Carpenters Hall. After the tour, we had ten or fifteen minutes until all the museums closed.  Directly across the street was the National Liberty Museum, so we headed over.  Walking into the museum I was thunderstruck by a magnificent Peace Portal.  I stood underneath, soaking in all the beauty.  The museum was closing, and I hadn’t moved from under the Peace Portal.

Image result for national liberty museum peace portal

“I can do this!” I told my husband.  “I need to do this in my classroom. We can build this on top of the loft.  It will be a place for children to go, to just be. Children need Peace.”

And so it came to pass.  I contacted the National Liberty Museum to get permission to recreate their Peace Portal.  They were thrilled.  Little did I know that Peace would become an enormous part of the lives of children.  They loved being on the loft- sitting, thinking, reading and playing under the Peace Portal we had made.  Children felt the same way that I felt under the “real” Peace Portal.


I decided to talk to children and ask them how Peace makes them feel.  Colin said, “Peace makes me feel hearty.”  I said, “So Peace makes you feel strong.  That’s terrific, Colin.”  He looked at me in frustration, patted his heart, and said, “No Jennie, Heart-y.”

Their thoughts were so remarkable that we made a Peace Poerty Book in the spring. It is card catalogued at the public library.  Our school year of Peace, from making a Peace Portal to writing a book of poetry was a very good year.

Little did I know, this was only the beginning.  The stage had been set for  Milly.  And Little did I know that the museum would play a big role. 

The following fall my husband and I went to the Bennington Museum in Vermont to see their Grandma Moses collection.  We walked into the front entrance to see a display of Haitian Quilts.  These were murals, as detailed and stunning as a painting.  I was frozen. This must have been what the first people felt when they saw the ocean or the Grand Canyon.

“I know that look” said my husband.  “Do you really think you can make one of these at school?”

“No, but we can design one.  Peace was a wonderful part of school last year, and the children wanted more.  This is IT.  We can make a Peace Quilt!”

We looked at each other and said in unison, “We need a quilter.”

Meeting Milly was not what I expected, and certainly meeting me was not what Milly expected at all…

Stay tuned for Part 2.


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.
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59 Responses to The Legacy of Milly, Part 1

  1. Opher says:

    Just wonderful! I think the whole country right now needs a huge peace portal!!
    I look forward to hearing about Milly and the quilt.

  2. Darlene says:

    What an amazing story. I can’t wait to read more of it. Another fact is more amazing than fiction example. xo

  3. L. Marie says:

    I love how you get inspired, Jennie. Love that Peace Portal! What a rich example for children.

    I remember a post where you featured Milly. And I see another post just before this one that features her. I’ll hop over to that one.

  4. Sue Vincent says:

    I could see every word written… especially that thunderstruck expression 🙂

  5. What a wonderful beginning to your story!

  6. beetleypete says:

    I am certain that Milly would love to know about this story, Jennie. Her legacy lives on in your words.
    Best wishes, pete.

  7. Well done, Jennie. Your children are so fortunate to have a teacher with such dedication

  8. Ritu says:

    Such a wonderful story 💜

  9. Wonderful beginning! Can’t wait for part 2. The peace portal looks wonderful.

  10. Dan Antion says:

    I wish more oriole would realize how important peace – all forms of peace – is, and how nice it would be to have.

  11. ren says:

    Love it!

  12. robbiecheadle says:

    You are a very indigenous lady, Jennie. Totally committed to your calling.

  13. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily and Meet the Reviewers – Georgia Rose, Cheche Winnie and Jenny Fitzkee | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  14. dgkaye says:

    I adore your stories of happiness and peace Jennie. You should run for prez. I heard they need one badly. 🙂 xx

  15. ahhh- a cliffhanger and I am hooked!

  16. Sarah says:

    The Peace Portal is magnificent and your idea to recreate is as well! Can’t wait for part 2!!

  17. Seems it would be great if we all entered and exited our homes through portals, leaving only peace in our wake. Your peace portal turned out wonderful!

    • Jennie says:

      I think you are absolutely right, Marcia. Being under that Peace Portal was transforming. I’m so glad you liked the classroom portal. 🙂

  18. How wonderful and of course, my magical friend, it is you who creates miracles everyday for children and for those of us who need to enjoy, with grace, these miracles of love. Thank you.

  19. Karen does have a way of describing what you do! I’m enthralled already. I see you have posted part 4 already so I’m finally ready to start this adventure. I’ve never heard or seen the Peace Portal but I imagine it would have that effect on many but I doubt that anyone else would take it the direction you did and share the feeling it gave you with very young and impressionable children. You do the the world such a great kindness by this. These children are touched in a way that can only continue to spread more peace. Just imagine the trickle down effect of what you thought was a small thing, may have accomplished.

    • Jennie says:

      I loved reading your comments, Marlene. I had not heard of or seen a Peace Portal either. It just struck me, and I could see how children might feel the same way- if they had a chance to be under one. I do believe that the Peace Portal gave children something wonderful, and wonderful things have a trickle down effect, right? All I had to do was, as you say, take it in that direction. Once that happened, the ball got rolling. I’m so glad you’re enjoying this series of stories. Thank you, Marlene. 🙂

  20. Carol says:

    I am always late to the party and I have read this backwards…What a beautiful inspiring journey I absolutely love it. Thank you for sharing and thank you, Sally I am so pleased I got to the party albeit late but better late than never…A wonderful, wonderful story 🙂 xxx

  21. Norah says:

    Gorgeous, Jennie. I can’t wait to read the next parts. I know I’ve read about Milly and the Peace Quilt before, but I’m looking forward to reading it all again. I love your Peace Portal too. We could all do with one of those.

  22. Reblogged this on K. D. Dowdall and commented:
    I am reblogging this 7 part story, one for each day, for those bloggers that may have missed this heartwarming, healing, and true story that lead to a quilt being hung in the Foster House at the Boston VA Hospitals for our soldiers as designed by Jennie’s young students with the help of Milly, a quilter, to make a beautiful quilt.

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