Sam and Alex, Then and Now

When children return to school to visit, it is always a treat for teachers.  When children return to give back, it becomes a whole new chapter.  I am the one filled with wonder, the children are just eager.

Sam and Alex were in my class when they were four years old.  They became best friends right from the start.

Here are Sam and Alex, when they were in my summer camp group:

Oh, did we ever have fun!

Here are Sam and Alex now:
Still best buddies after all these years.

They came to school to help with our annual Fall Fix-Up this past weekend.  They’re now so…big.  That happens when you become seniors in high school.

These two are all about giving back to their roots.  We talked on and on about their dreams for college and the future, and about their memories in the Aqua Room:

Hermit crabs and the guinea pig.
Taking Gloria home for a weekend.
Crunchy Cheetos.
Music at rest time.
Chapter reading and stories.

One of the first classroom books I made with children was “Brown Bear, Brown Bear.”  Sam was right there in the book:

Alex was always creative in his play:

Sam wants to do his Eagle Scout project at school.  I have been to two Eagle Scout ceremonies, and let me tell you- it is a lifetime achievement.  Did you know there is only one group that has all members who were Eagle Scouts – the astronauts who landed on the moon.  Wow.

I am a keeper of treasures.  Cards and drawings from children are treasures.  So are letters from parents.  Here are excerpts from Sam’s mother’s letters (to the director of my school), those many years ago:

“…on a teacher who stood out amongst the rest.  I originally saw a picture of her on the GCS website.  She had brought her class to the Groton library…how interesting!  Oh how Sam and I LOVE the library!  In this picture she was holding a book that her class had created called “The Groton ABC Book.”

The letter is a long one, and quite wonderful.  Then, there is a letter about Sam and Gloria:

“Never judge a book by its cover”

“While searching for great books about chapter reading books filled with adventure, I heard Sam exclaim with excitement “GLORIA”!!!  As I looked up, I saw Sam run to the back wall, filled with books on fall and Halloween.  Amongst these books on the shelf was indeed a doll that looked very much like Gloria.  There she sat with a scrunched up old wrinkled face, and to some of the other children looking on, had a somewhat scary demeanor… but something magical happened.  Sam picked her up, like a long lost friend and gave her a warm hug.  “Gloria, I’ve missed you!  Mom- It’s Gloria!!!”

The letter goes on, as to why Gloria is important and makes a difference, planting wonderful seeds, and making impressions.  That is exactly what teachers do, too.  When we plant seeds, make impressions, and give children love and enthusiasm for learning, it makes a difference.

Thank you, Sam and Alex.


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.
This entry was posted in behavior, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, Gloria, Inspiration, preschool, Student alumni, Teaching young children and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

85 Responses to Sam and Alex, Then and Now

  1. Congratuliations, Jennie! Thats the goal to reach, and you are again the winner. 🙂 Wonderful to see the strong band that you have woven over the years. xx Michael

  2. A wonderful testament to your teaching and pupils!

  3. Dan Antion says:

    It’s so nice of them to come back to visit and help. It’s. Reflection on you, Jennie – a good one.

  4. Jolene says:

    I adore this post and these two young men. Sam and Alex…perhaps the title of a future book.xoxoxo

    • Jennie says:

      I thought of you, Jolene. I was trying to remember what Sam did in the year-end kindergarten rainforest play… or was it a different play? We have both been there when our students are still BFFs today – and some even getting married! I think Sam and Alex sounds like a great book title. 😀 Yes, they are two fine young men.

  5. Thank you for this heartwarming post on a frosty morning! GLORIA!!

  6. What a wonderful post, so I toast Sam & Alex. I enjoyed seeing former students after they graduated – especially when they stopped by to see me. Well done, Jennie!

  7. This post made me smile and I needed that smile. Thanks 😁

  8. Jim Borden says:

    that must have been wonderful to catch up with Sam and Alex. Seems like they have turned out to be fine young men, thanks in part to all they learned in your classroom! I also liked your listing of what they remembered from your classroom, I guess you never know what will leave an impression…

    • Jennie says:

      It was wonderful, Jim. How did they get to be so big? 🙂 You know how it feels as a teacher when kids return, and turn out just fine. Oh, the memories. They’re always a surprise. Crunchy Cheetos is a great story. The little things are really the big things (I say this a million times.) Yes, you never know what will leave an impression. Isn’t that exciting?

      • Jim Borden says:

        I love when I run into former students who are now out working. They all seem to have become so professional, in such a short amount of time.

        Have you written about the Crunchy Cheetos before?

      • Jennie says:

        I know what you mean. A kid one day, and a professional the next. For me, a kid one day and a college student the next.

        Oh, the Crunchy Cheetos!! Honestly, I don’t think I have written about this, but I should, because ‘the little things are really the big things’. This started at the school’s summer camp, where being silly can be important in bonding with a child. So, there were a few shy ones who brought Crunchy Cheetos for snack. I became a crazed lunatic and robotically loomed over their snack saying, “Crunchy Cheeto alert”, over and over again. It broke the ice, and became a ‘thing’ whenever a child brought in Crunchy Cheetos. Sam remembered. Nice!

      • Jim Borden says:

        I now have this image of you as a crazed lunatic! 🙂 I agree that being silly can help break the ice…

      • Jennie says:

        Haha!! It definitely broke the ice.

  9. “Real men **do** eat quiche – and – ‘give back to their roots.'”

  10. barbtaub says:

    I firmly believe the luckiest kids in the world are your students!

  11. srbottch says:

    It would be interesting to know how many students went in to Scouting, then Eagle rank.

  12. Precious moments spent in the present and linked with the past. A privilege enjoyed by those who love what they do.

  13. Darlene says:

    How wonderful that they come back and share great memories.

  14. As an Eagle scout, I applaud Sam and his efforts. The skills I learned in the program have stayed with me my whole life. Great post, Jennie.

  15. Ritu says:

    Oh, this is fabulous, Jennie!

  16. beetleypete says:

    Alays an extra joy to read posts like this one from you. The fruit of your labour, home to roost!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  17. This is so much fun to read and so much fun to look at before and after. What a gift beautiful wonderful teachers like you give to human beings. And what a gift these two boys turned men are!

  18. Wonderful reflections and update!

  19. frenchc1955 says:

    Hi Jennie, thank you for sharing this wonderful post!

  20. shadynooker8 says:

    Jennie, What a wonderful blog post about Sam and Alex, they absolutely adore you! You gave both of them such an amazing start and imbedded a love of learning! We remember that day with Gloria in the library so vividly! She now represents those current trend words like inclusion and diversity, but ultimately you were the one who taught them to never judge a book by its cover Jennie. Thank you for being who you are. We loved seeing you. I’m so glad Sam has chosen to give back to GCS for his Eagle project. We look forward to seeing you again soon. Xxoo

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you for your wonderful, heartfelt words, Diane! I’m so glad you vividly remember the day Sam saw Gloria in the library. Yes, the trend words many come and go, but Gloria’s message is always the same. It was such a pleasure to see all of you at school. I hope I will be invited to Sam’s Eagle Scout induction ceremony. -With Love, Jennie-

  21. petespringerauthor says:

    I think my favorite posts are the post-teaching ones. I’ve done a few, and yours are always fantastic, Jennie. I remember reblogging one of your posts from a couple of years back about one of your Eagle Scouts. What was it called? (Something and the Eagle Scout?) Isn’t it wonderful that these two boys are still such good friends? I can tell you feel a lot of pride in the young men they have become. Of course, the Gloria look-a-like story is delightful too.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed this, Pete. I know you feel the same way when your students return and you see how they’ve grown. So proud! I think the post was The Castle and the Eagle Scout. I have been to two Eagle Scout inductions, and they’re quite inspiring. Yes, it is amazing that the boys are still besties. The mom told me she remembers the Gloria library incident like it was yesterday. 🙂

  22. bosssybabe says:

    Aw I love that Sam and Alex came to visit you and give back – even more amazing is that you were such a wonderful, memorable influence on them that they remembered you even after all these years (as young as they were)! I loved visiting my former teachers after leaving the school! The most fun was walking the halls and thinking they shrank everything after we left (because how could the coat hooks be that low???) 🤣

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks so much, Jen. It was really wonderful. Hats off to you for visiting your former teachers. I’m sure you made their day… it means a lot to teachers. It always cracks me up when former students visit, and are shocked at the ‘sledding hill’ on the playground that is sooo small. 😅

  23. I love this story! I love that they came back to give back, and that they’re still good friends!

  24. MeRaw says:

    Great story and wonderful photos.

  25. Elizabeth says:

    One major loss in my life from moving from Oregon to Connecticut was losing the opportunity to bump into my art students now making a living or some part of a living as artists in Portland. It is very odd to not constantly run into people I know. After 20 years I now just occasionally bump into someone familiar.

  26. Gift says:

    Kudos to Jen, you thought em well❤️

  27. There was so much here to warm the heart, Jennie. The boys friendship all those years is incredible. Their desire to give back and wonderful parental involvement. I loved every word and so grateful I found it. I wish, still, that they could clone you.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks so much, Marlene. You are too kind! I loved those boys. Really. Wait- that reminds me of one of my favorite stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul (a book you love) about the teacher in Baltimore whose boys all did well. I wrote a post about that. I’ll have to blog it again. Because, when you really love your students, that’s all they need to succeed.

      • Was the story in Chicken Soup for the Teachers’ Soul? I read that one cover to cover. I so agree. Love is the answer to everything. Hugs.

      • Jennie says:

        No, it was in the original Chicken Soup for the Soul book. You must have read it. The teacher is interviewed by someone doing research on a group of men in the area who became successful despite many odds. The only common denominator was that they all had this one teacher. Great story! I know you have given away many of your books. Perhaps you kept this one?

      • I’m absolutely sure I read it. I’ve been reading Chicken Soup for the Soul books since they first came out. Sometimes they take stories from one book and put it in another at a later date. I’ve seen this several times. Bought and read CS4 the Writer’s Soul 3 times. Read it twice and then gave away the 3rd copy. I was a bit embarrassed about that obsession. Forgot I already had it. 🙂

      • Jennie says:

        It makes perfect sense that the story would be in other CS books. I never thought of that! I am ashamed to say that I have not read CS for the Teacher Soul. Is it really good?

        When we moved to Massachusetts we didn’t have a washer or a dryer. I went to the laundromat every week, and read Chicken Soup For the Soul. Great memories! My #2 favorite story is the teacher who had her students write down something nice about each of their classmates. She compiled them into a list for each student. Then, they’re all at the funeral of their classmate who served in Vietnam, and each one had saved that precious list. OMG.

      • That was another of my favorite stories. Yes, the Teacher’s Soul book was worth it. I got it at a neighborhood yard sale given by 2 teachers. 🙂 Then I passed it on. Darn it all.

      • Jennie says:

        The circle of giving!

      • Jennie.. I subscribe to CS online to get a story a day and this one came through that I thought you might like coming out in a new book. I don’t know if you will be able to open it but had to try.

      • Jennie says:

        Yes!! It came through. What a wonderful story! I never think of going online for a book, so thank you. I have submitted my blog posts to CS before, but they were never interested. One day that might change…I just need to turn on the light.
        Marlene, here is the link to my blog post. I just read it again and cried. I think I need to repost it. Let me know if it comes through for you.

      • I got it and remembered commenting. I gave away so many CS books in the last 2 years as my shelves were too full and I hoped to pass them on to others to enjoy.

      • Jennie says:

        That is a wonderful thing to do!

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