Gloria joined the classroom today, and oh what a homecoming it was. It’s doubtful Santa Claus would receive such a welcome. After all these years we are still amazed at the difference Gloria makes and how children are drawn to her. It started many years ago…

You see, Gloria is different. She is very shy and loves to wear black. She’s not pretty on the outside, but she’s beautiful on the inside. In order for children to learn about the world, they needed to learn about the people in the world. And that meant introducing them to diversity… to Gloria.

Children don’t even see that she’s a puppet. The word witch is never spoken. It isn’t even a thought in their heads. They see her ‘insides’; that she needs help singing the ABC’s, that she loves Maine, and likes to be read to. That’s what children really see.

When Gloria arrived today, we introduced her at Morning Meeting. She was shy and did not speak. She looked all around, and we realized she didn’t recognize the classroom, as we have moved. That took some explaining! Then, Gloria looked at the children. She knew her Aqua Room friends from last year. One by one, they came up to hug Gloria. The hugs were more like the jaws of life… it had been a long time since they had seen her. McKinley cried. We did, too. Delaney buried her head into Gloria. On and on.

New children were watching all of this unfold. You could have heard a pin drop. Each child had an opportunity to greet Gloria. Some children waved, others smiled, some came to greet her, and Amelia immediately said, “Gloria, I like you.”

After Morning Meeting, children began their activities. Many children decided to hang out with Gloria. They read books to her, made her a bed on the couch, and just wanted to be with her.

After lunch, Heidi arrived and was all over Gloria like a bee in a flower garden. The crowd of children were there, too.

Heidi decided to make Gloria her own nap mat for rest time. McKinley reminded me to show Gloria any picture from Charlotte’s Web after chapter reading.

I remembered.  Welcome to the new school year, Gloria!


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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71 Responses to Gloria

  1. Ritu says:

    Love your Gloria Stories 🥰

  2. beetleypete says:

    Wonderful to see Gloria back. She makes my day too! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. Darlene says:

    How sweet. Gloria is so well loved.

  4. What I love most about this is how the children just welcome and love Gloria, each in their own time and way.

  5. Jennie, this is beautiful!

  6. petespringerauthor says:

    Another home run idea, Jennie! What a great way for kids to learn about so many things: diversity, shyness, inner beauty, and looking out for others. One of the most remarkable things about children is their acceptance of others. Many adults I know could learn this lesson from their own children if they’re paying attention.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Pete. Twenty years ago teachers were getting dolls and puppets of different ethnicities to add diversity to their classrooms. It occurred to me that in Groton, there was no diversity. How could children learn to be accepting of different people? Well, there were old people, those who were not pretty or had injuries. I saw children back away from those people. Gloria was one of those people. If children could look beyond her exterior and and accept her, then I was teaching about real diversity.

      Gloria has been to major sporting events, high school graduations, and vacations. She went to the Cape, went to the Red Sox parade in Boston. She has been trick-or-treating as a cow, Minnie Mouse, and a dinosaur. On and on. She’s the real deal. 🙂 and like you said, many adults could learn from Gloria.

  7. Lovely to see Gloria back Jennie and I hope fully rested for the busy year ahead.. and what a wondeful welcome…♥

  8. It is quite amazing how the children like Gloria, Jennie. We never had anything like her when I was at nursery school. I would have remembered.

  9. John Fioravanti says:

    It is truly a delightful post, Jennie! I felt like giving Gloria a hug as I read your post.

  10. Good to see Gloria return. Did she have a good summer?

  11. frenchc1955 says:

    Gloria will be loved by the children!

  12. Does Gloria visit just once a year?

    • Jennie says:

      My goodness, what a great question, Liz. When I first got Gloria, she visited a few times a year. It was always wonderful. Then one day I forgot to put her away. She was sitting in a chair and children were talking to her and asking her questions. One child came up to me and asked, “Why isn’t Gloria talking to us?” That was a big teaching moment for me. I should have known that if she was real, she deserved to be part of the classroom. After that, Gloria stayed on the couch and children played with her.

      But the story doesn’t end there. I was in the children’s bathroom with Colin. He was looking serious. He asked me if he could take Gloria home for a sleepover. I wasn’t sure if this was a good idea. Colin said, “Don’t worry. I’ll have a talk with her. I have a night light.” Wow!

      Gloria went home with Colin. I even emailed the family that evening to see how things were going. Gloria and Colin were having a great time together.

      Thank you, Colin, for teaching me. Gloria can now be signed-out for a weekend. She is hugely popular. The first time a child wanted to take her trick-or-treating, she was Minnie Mouse. Better yet, the parent of the child came to school the next morning very upset. “Jennie, so many people asked about the witch. Witch? They didn’t understand at all. I was so mad!” Ah, then I knew parents were on board, and understood.

      Sometimes, if a child has had a tough day, I will suggest taking Gloria home for the night. Best thing ever!

      Gloria is probably more important than anybody else in the class, every year. Thank goodness. She is actually a role model. I have written many posts on Gloria. She’s my hero.

      Thank you, Liz.

  13. What a wonderful start to Gloria’s school year, and the children with her. I just love her naptime bed!

  14. What a wonderful thing for the children and allowing them to be fully who they are and who they can become in just a fraction of a moment.

  15. Jennie – May I quote from this post – including a photo – to feature Gloria in an upcoming VBSC series post? I don’t see a way to contact you directly from your website…feel free to use my contact page on my website to leave a message, or just respond here. If she/you have a favorite brownie (or other recipe) to share, that’d be an added plus.
    BTW: it wasn’t until I wrote my Pluto post when my childhood playmate from Pluto came back to ‘visit’…and I realized Gloria reminds me of my Zelda…maybe they’re sisters?!!

    • Jennie says:

      I loved your post! How did I miss that one? Of course you can use anything you want from my post. Gloria says thank you. I will ask her if she knows Zelda 🙂.

  16. I can start my day with a smile now, Jennie! This story warms my heart and you tell it with such detail, I feel like I’m there watching each child feel their emotions with Gloria. She’s real to the children. Why do we have to lose that ability?? Have a perfectly lovely day, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      You made my day, Marlene. You probably made Gloria’s day, too 🙂. I wish you could be there. Every day there is “something”, highs and lows. One minute Gloria is being read to, and the next minute a child finds her on the floor, so we need to get an ice pack and make sure she’s okay. Life lessons through Gloria, because she is real. May we never loose that ability. ❤️

  17. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily -Thursday October 3rd 2019 – Amy M. Reade, Jennie Fitzkee and Mary Smith | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  18. shoebears says:

    What a delightful story! I teach ELL to students in Grades 1 to 11. There is a huge move to push-in support, but I am still very much an advocate for pull-out support as I have seen how it gives many children the opportunity to blossom. Many of them are much like Gloria when they arrive at a new school, in a new country, and have to learn a new language. This inspired my book ‘E El Gi Piddr – It Will Get Better’. There are so many children like Gloria in schools all over the world. I loved reading about Gloria receiving so much love and support!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you! Your story and perceptions are spot on. Yes, Gloria is exactly like the students you describe. I’m so glad you made that connection. There are many Gloria’s in this world. If children can accept and love a Gloria, they will grow to become good citizens and kind, giving adults. They will make our world better. Way to go on your book!

  19. dgkaye says:

    Delightful Jennie. I’m sure Gloria is just as happy to make new friends. ❤

  20. Opher says:

    So brilliant Jennie!

  21. Pingback: Gloria ~ Jennie Fitzkee | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  22. That’s a really great idea!

  23. Wonderful seeing Glora again. Giving her a own nap map is fantastic. Michael

  24. Dan Antion says:

    It’s good to see how the children respond to Gloria. Some things don’t change.

  25. Annika Perry says:

    Awww … Gloria is the glue that unites everyone! 😀 I love her nap bed and quilted blanket!

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