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Teacher, Mentor and Friend…Rembered

Everyone can probably remember that “one” teacher that greatly impacted their life. For me, it was my Kindergarten teacher, Jane Cassidy. She was more than a teacher. She was an educator, a mentor and a friend. I was so fortunate to have Mrs. Cassidy as my first teacher. Because of her care, compassion and energy, I started off my school adventure with a love of the subjects…all of them…art, English, grammar, history, language, math, music, science, writing…I couldn’t get enough. She instilled upon me the importance of learning and developed my appetite to gain knowledge in all forms, throughout my years of schooling.

It is thinking about Mrs. Cassidy that I am reminded of the book by Robert Fulghum,

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

[Source: "ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN" by Robert Fulghum.  See his web site at http://www.robertfulghum.com/  ]

Mrs. Cassidy did not stop impacting my life after that first year. I continued to stop in and talk with her through my elementary years and would stop in and say hello at least once a week through high school, at lunch. During my brief time as a teacher, I thought of her as a mentor, remembering her passion for educating, ability to connect with all of the students and stressed the importance of thinking about answers and options to reach understanding.

Yesterday, I learned that my favorite teacher, educator, mentor and friend, Jane Cassidy, had passed away. I will never forget the impact that she had on my life and others. My prayers go out to her family. Mrs. Cassidy…you will never be forgotten.

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