Is it really possible to refine down to a paragraph or two the significance of a person's life who has spent the better part of it teaching. For 40 minutes today, Enumclaw Public Schools held a reception/tea (I never did see any tea) to recognize all the district employees whose careers come to an end at the close of this school year. Divided among some 20 retirees, the time for each one's biography and summary of career lasted but 2 or 3 minutes. A life time of significance boiled down to three minutes.
Don't get me wrong. It was a nice event. And the superintendant had nice things to say. The Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and the Enumclaw Education Association handed out nice little tokens and certificates. It was nice. I appreciated the efforts given the circumstances.Some of those retiring had put in as many as 35 years in education, specifically in Enumclaw.
Judy was one of the honorees. She worked for the district 15 years. However she also taught for 7 years in Las Cruces, spent 5 years administrating the Early Childhood Division of Las Cruces Public Schools and was also a teachers aid for a few years when we lived in Renton. All told that is 30 years invested in public education. On average, Judy has probably had 25 students per year. As a teacher and a teachers aid, that means she played a major role in the intellectual, moral, social and emotional development of over 315 students.
As an administrator, that number exponentially increased because there, she recruited, trained, equipped and enabled many more Parents as Teachers home visitors, Head Start teachers, and Kindergarten faculty. The numbers begin to really add up then - something akin to a pyramid marketing scheme.
Of course, that aspect of her life - public education - is just one dimensional. It doesn't begin to quantify the impact that she has had in her many years teaching Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, Kid's Quest, and Children's Choirs at Church. Somehow, even when she was finishing up her degree in evening classes, and when she had already put in a full day taking lunch money, keeping track of book orders, individual medical needs, personalized attention in reading and math, and who knows what else comprises the day of a public school teacher, she always seemed to have time and passion for helping young children learn and grow in their faith in God. Energy, creativity, vibrant love, passion and compassion - all came through not only in a school class room but in those special moments with kids kids at church..
There is one more, even more critical and important role she has played (and continues to play) as an educator and that is teaching and exemplifying what it means to be an authentic Christian to our daughters, our grandsons, and our friends. She lives it as an open book. She is who St. Francis had in mind when he said "preach a sermon every day; and if necessary use words." Our daughters and grandchildren are walking, breathing examples of those who see in her an example of faith and love that is so contagious, they too are living into that faith...and are teaching others in word and by example also.
Paul told his young colleague Timothy "entrust what you have heard to faithful people who in turn can teach it to others." (2 Timothy 2:2) And just before that reminded Timothy that it was his godly grandmother and mother who had passed along a great legacy of faith to him in the first place (I Timothy 1:1-7)
The Bible says that those who teach are worthy of double honor. Today, while she was honored, Judy didn't receive the kind of honor of which her life and career are worthy. So, this little blog is my meager attempt as her husband and life-long admirer, to give her the honor she deserves.
I have volunteered in her class. I have seen what its like to be with 2nd graders. She has earned it. And I am so proud.