Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Song in Our Hearts

Every once in a while, a very special educator casts a spell over a group of children who are forever changed.  Mr. P is one of those educators. Having completed a full career as a teacher, as well as as a principal, this snow-topped, 6-feet-tall beanpole charmer just can't get enough of kid-company, apparently, as he continues to substitute teach on a regular basis in our district.  I can always tell when Jerry's in the hallway, because children exclaim, "Mr. P!!!!" and run to throw their arms around him in greeting. Everyone smiles when Jerry's around; he's just very charismatic.

Mr. P also just happens to be nearly 80 years old, which only becomes evident when you observe classrooms in which he subs. Mr. P has a unique way of starting class; no class begins without him leading students in a good old round of the 1940's Found a Peanut song. What? Middle schoolers singing Found a Peanut?! Isn't that song too old and corny for 12-14 year-olds? Normally, yes, but not when Jerry's in the room. I've seen it myself; having known Mr. P since grade school, they know the drill. He leads, and they become greasy haired, pimply faced little songbirds with sheepish grins, heads swaying back and forth with enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, though, we haven't seen Mr. P at school in more than a month; in December, he had a spill, breaking a rib. He then got shingles. As if that wasn't bad enough, he developed a staph infection! The poor guy couldn't catch a break and was feeling kind of low. He apologized for not feeling well enough to sub. We responded by sending get-well cards that made Mr. P's day when he received them.  He sent a thank you note that read, in part:

Tiffany wrote, "Roses are red, violets are blue, we all get sick, even you."
My response is, "Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm getting better, because of you!"

What a sweetheart. Mr. P wrote that he'd read every single card multiple times. He also sent a separate note to a student with whom he'd had had a not-so-good interaction one of his last subbing days, telling him that he forgave the boy and to have a nice Christmas; what a class act.

Because Mr. P was so appreciative, we were inspired to do more. Right before Christmas, we decided to do something really special for him.  Guess how he felt about it.

As you can imagine, Mr. P's spirits absolutely soared when he received the video (once he figured out how to play it, which took about a  Once he got it going, though, he could hardly stop watching it, according to his wife, who stopped at school and (with tears in her eyes) thanked us. She did add, though, that she was losing her mind over hearing that song played over and over! Jerry, though, can't get enough of it, and for that we are gratified. After all, to be able to do something so simple that makes a difference so big for someone who's blessed so many of us, it's a wonderful feeling. 

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