Five months ago I wrote about welcoming my son into this world and now, sadly, I will write about a great person leaving.
I have always had an alternative philosophy regarding education and children. I waited to find the perfect fit to start my teaching career. My first school was a great place and I was confident in my stance on Progressive Education. Over the years the school started to change, I started to change and by the end I was questioning my approach and my ability to support and teach kids. I left teaching with a sour taste in my mouth. For four years I worked building patios and stone walls until one day I realized I felt out of place. Although I met my closest friends while landscaping, I was ready to be back in a classroom surrounded by the energy of children. I sent out 108 resumes all over the state of Maine, New Hampshire and Alaska. I replied to a job post for the Riley School, located in Glen Cove, Maine. I drove up to visit the school and interview on Wednesday, did a day of teaching/observing on Thursday and drove home Friday. I remember vividly turning onto the driveway of Riley and being in awe of the campus and its buildings. I knew then, that this is where I wanted to be. And then I had my interview and there I met the person who founded and created the Riley School, Glenna. My interview was like chatting with friends about education, children and how teaching is an art. I was automatically drawn to her energy, excitement and love of children. My interview lasted nearly two hours. After the interview I toured the buildings and grounds. On my drive home Friday I could not contain my excitement and then my cell phone rang. It was Glenna, I was offered the position of being Riley's Lower School Facilitator.
I was delighted to meet a director that shared my vision of education. In her own way, she reassured me that what I was doing was exactly why she started the Riley School in the first place. It was impressive to meet a women who stuck to her vision and philosophy at any cost and she was feisty. Her main philosophy for the school was that her faculty should have nothing but unconditional love for the children at school. When you love a child unconditionally they will thrive in all other areas of their life. Adults always need to support and guide children but love and affection are the cornerstones that she stood by 41 years at Riley. She loved to engage in conversations about education that challenged my teaching practices and have I mentioned that she was feisty? She was an impressive lady that helped countless amounts of children and I am ever grateful for having her in my life. I am honored to be a part of her school and vision, honored that I was chosen to be a part of her faculty and I will work hard to carry on what she started 41 years ago. Last night when I was falling asleep I thought about the message that she delivered every year at her '39'th' birthday and Riley graduation...
" You know what is amazing? It is amazing that there is not another person in the world like you. Think about that, there is no one else like you in the world. You can do anything you want to do, just be the best at doing it. I don't care if you want to be a garbage man, just be the best garbage man. And don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something. You can do whatever you want. They told me I would never have my own school and you know how that turned out."
Tales from a mixed age classroom.