Gloria’s First Day at School

It happens every year.  Gloria comes to school, and children are wide-eyed.  Silent.  Maybe scared.  And somehow, she becomes a friend.  Well, not exactly.  She becomes herself, and children want to be her friend.

It started with Eddie.  He was smiling and waved.  He wanted to shake Gloria’s hand.  James did not.  He watched, he listened to his classmates who had older siblings that knew Gloria.  Suddenly he burst out, “Gloria, I have a sister!”

Gloria told the children she was shy and scared.  She told them that she had been called unkind words, and that’s why she became an Aqua Roomer.  The children listened.  Children have big hearts.  Sometimes they just need a reason to share that heart.

The conversation and questions went something like this:

I like your mask.

Do you have ears?

Does Gloria like unicorns?

Has she been pumpkin picking?

Gloria, how did you get to school?

When Gloria’s ‘meet and greet’ was over, it was time for a story.  Nolan spoke up:

Can she sit with me?

She did.  Thank you for taking such good care of Gloria, Nolan.


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 Diversity, Expressing words and feelings, Gloria, Inspiration, Kindness, preschool, Teaching young children, wonder and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

79 Responses to Gloria’s First Day at School

  1. beth says:

    i love this journey to acceptance

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Beth. This journey has been wonderful every year. I knew the minute I saw Gloria twenty years ago, that she was “it”. Our New England town had little diversity back then. What would children see that would be different? How could they understand diversity, when blacks or Asians or Indians were non-existent?

      And then I knew. Old people were different, especially those who had difficulties. So, Gloria was my hero, my way to open a door to diversity. If she was accepted, I knew this would be a big step. She was! And she continues to be a huge presence and teaching tool. Her journal of weekend adventures over the years is heartwarming. 😍

  2. Darlene says:

    So sweet! The children empathized with Gloria almost immediately. A skill (if you can call it that) they can carry through to adulthood. When I took Human Resouce courses, we learned that empathy was a quality missing in many employees. If only they had met Gloria when they were young. That last picture is so precious.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Darlene. The point you make about empathy is huge. When it comes to reading and books, I have read and learned time and time again that the best way for children AND adults to develop empathy is to read fiction. Yes, fiction.

      That makes me think more about Gloria, because she is real… but not really. The element of fiction plays a huge role in developing empathy. You are so right, it is a missing quality today. We need more Gloria’s.

      And that last picture? OMG. It melted my heart. ❤️

  3. I expect that Gloria is needed by the children now more than over.

  4. K.L. Hale says:

    What a blessing you are Ms. Jennie. 💚

  5. Opher says:

    I bet they love her!!

  6. quiall says:

    Children understand true friendship.

  7. How wonderful to see the children accept Gloria so quickly. I love the last picture, with that little boy with his arm around her. Most children really are kind.

    • Jennie says:

      They really do accept Gloria very quickly, every year. I think young children have a big heart, and they are eager to accept others. Yes, that last photo is precious, a testament to their kindness. Thank you, Sharon.

  8. Wow, Jennie, this is a very moving post. Gloria has done it again!

  9. It’s a wonderful post.
    Hi dear
    Would be glad if you follow my blog
    Will follow your page too

  10. See, Gloria! Your first day at school and you already made a forever buddy-friend in Nolan!

  11. Kids are amazing and Gloria is too…Precious! ❤

  12. Jennie, I just love what you do with Gloria and the kids. So wonderful.

  13. the love between Gloria and your classes is such a gift to both. the caring and acceptance they develop when knowing they can help someone who’s feelings have been hurt, who is different and need acceptance is an essential life less.

    • Jennie says:

      You hit the nail on the head, Lori. That’s just what children need. We both know you can’t teach empathy. Providing a situation to help children develop empathy is what we do. Thank you, Gloria! 🥰

  14. beetleypete says:

    Gloria is going to be very important in 2020. It took no time at all for her to work her magic.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  15. joylennick says:

    What a great idea, Jennie. Anything that promotes caring and love can only be good. It’s a gift to ignite children’s imagination and bring out the best in them. Well done you! xx

  16. How wonderful and totally how I thought the children would take to her.💕

  17. Jennie, you bring these moments to such charming life. Thanks for the smiles. Hugs on the wing.

  18. Reading this makes me weep for joy. Children with heart sharing there love. You help them reach that spot. There is hope for this world. My heart is so full. Thank you.

    • Jennie says:

      Marlene, you are just like Milly. Like you, she was far more than a quilter. She was tough and strong, funny and kind, full of common sense and good humor. She had a big heart, and when she met Gloria they bonded. Gloria still wears the necklace Milly gave her. Her quilts with the Aqua Room are famous, and it all started with Gloria. I’m sure you read my series of quilts with Milly.

      So, Gloria helps everyone share love. Milly knew that. Children know that. Every year they fall in love with her. I feel the same way you do, there is hope for this world. Thank you, Gloria! And thank you, Marlene.

  19. Dan Antion says:

    I’m so glad Gloria can be in school.

    • Jennie says:

      I am glad she can be in school, too. I have to be careful about children touching her – that’s hard! They all want to be with her, and carry her around, which is how it should be. Sigh! Covid, please go away.

  20. petespringerauthor says:

    I’m so glad that you found this bit of magic twenty years ago, Jennie. I’m happy in my new life, but I sure miss those big, kind children’s hearts. By the way, when the library ever opens back up, I’m going to follow through on your idea and volunteer to do a story hour.

    • Jennie says:

      I am so glad I found that magic twenty years ago. Kids have big hearts. And, you have made my day! Knowing that you’re going to volunteer to read aloud at the library makes me want to jump up and down and cheer. Two things will happen; you will be back to reading aloud to children which will be a tremendous thing for you. And, you will be reaching a new and different audience of children. Because they sign up means they care, and you will find that it takes forever to finish a book. The stops and conversations along the way will be as meaningful as the reading aloud. You will be doing a great thing for children, Pete. I can’t say this enough. I know you’ll keep me posted.

  21. your pay off Jennie is watching their reactions,smiles and words!

  22. jilldennison says:

    You and Gloria know how to talk to the children, how to get them to talk in return. Great job, Jennie & Gloria!!! Hugs!

  23. Norah says:

    Gloria has a huge heart.

  24. Lovely to see Gloria again and I am sure she will become much loved by this new group as she has by all who have gone before..coming to school each day just got more exciting and less scary…xxx

  25. I am so glad the kids like Gloria, Jennie. It looks like a successful meeting 😊

  26. Elizabeth says:

    How is it going with the masks? I see that the kids have them on. Is it challenging for them and/or you?

    • Jennie says:

      The kids are just fine with masks. It’s harder for teachers. I cannot read aloud to children with a mask on. For the sake of the story, it does not work. So, I make sure the children are six feet away and I pull my mask down to read aloud. The daily routine of masks off into paper bags for snack, lunch, and outdoor play is difficult but necessary. Some children cannot put on their masks. Everything takes longer.

  27. CarolCooks2 says:

    Jennie, you are amazing and to introduce Gloria to your new class took no time at all that picture of Nolan is so cute and shows that already you are teaching empathy to your little ones they are so lucky to have you at the start of their adventure into learning…x

  28. What a great re-visit! So many questions, too. 😉 Now, the classrom is complete, and school really can start. You are really amazing, Jennie. Every week another surprise. Have a beautiful weekend, and stay well. Michael

  29. Awww. So adorable. And those little guys and gals in masks, keeping each other safe. They should feel so proud of themselves. ❤ ❤ ❤

  30. dgkaye says:

    A whole new group of kiddies to fall in love with Gloria. I love that she’s wearing a mask ❤

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