Making a Difference

SOLC 2011 31.31

It all began with Phyllis. Phyllis transferred to our building because her husband was named principal at the school she was working at. She joined our grade three team. She introduced us and our third grade students to one of her favorite charities, Heifer International. At Christmas instead of students exchanging gifts students put together bags of snacks to sell to students during the school day. One of the big decisions after collecting and counting the money students chose which animals to “purchase” to empower a community somewhere in the world.  A flock of geese? Water buffalo? A camel? A cow? A goat? So many choices. After spearheading this project for a few years, Phyllis retired. Retired? Retired from teaching third grade but not from life. She became more involved in the many projects that she loved.  

During the summer we all would get together at her house for a summer afternoon lunch and according to her husband, “cackled like a hen-house full of hens.” Our last summer lunch was the summer before last. She was the picture of health at that lunch. Phyllis who had never been in the hospital except for the birth of her children, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We lost her two months later a few days before Christmas. In memory of her we collected money from the staff for Heifer International. We wanted to continue her project with students. For the last two weeks students have been bagging animal crackers and trail mix to sell.

Today one of the first grade teachers shared that this project has made a big impact on her students. Suzy knew that several of her students would not be able to purchase the 50 cents bag of snacks so she thought of another idea. Her students are earning virtual coins. After earning a coin the child moves the virtual coin on the smart board. They then are grouped into nickels, dimes, and dollars. They have earned enough virtual coins to buy a flock of ducks! Tomorrow is celebration day! What warms my heart is that Suzy tells me that the children really understand the impact they will have on a community by their actions.

A book that we used to introduce this concept gives me goose bumps of joy, One Hen How One Small Loan Made A Big Difference.   This story is based on actual poultry farmer. Small acts of kindness equals big impact. Phyllis would be proud.

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10 Responses to Making a Difference

  1. Ruth Ferris says:

    Thanks for sharing this post. It is bittersweet. Your friend touched many hearts and her work is still thriving through you and others.

  2. Linda Baie says:

    Thank you for the special story. It is heartbreaking when a friend leaves us. I’m sorry for your & the school’s loss. I do know the book, One Hen. We’ve used it at my school for a number of fund-raising activities. Quite a special story, too. Thanks Deb, for all your wonderful knowledge. I’ve looked forward to your slices every day! And thanks for the comments on mine-isn’t it like a big hug each time someone says something nice? We’ve got to remember to tell all the staff we work with, how important a good word is.

  3. Elizabeth E. says:

    Thanks for sharing the way you remembered your friend–such a powerful experience for both you and your students. I have often told my husband that I want to have one fo those memorial benches that dot the grounds of the local Botannic Gardens–many of them are given in memory of a wife or a husband. He and I used to meet there and eat lunch and I would like to think that in future years, someone might sit on my bench and enjoy the gardens. We all want to know we made an impact–a lasting impact likeyour friend did on you.

    Lovely post. Thanks.

  4. the other ruth says:

    Deb, this is so powerful. Thank you for sharing with all of us. I think that reading this story will help others think about ways we can make a difference and inspire us to do so.

  5. Cathy says:

    This post made me smile. Words cannot do justice to the honor that you gave Phyllis!

  6. Tam says:

    Thanks, Deb. You make a difference in the classroom and all around you in everything you do. I’m glad I’ve gotten to know you better. Your laughter is your drawing card–I love it!

    • Sprice says:

      Thanks for sharing this about Phyllis. I didn’t get to know her that well. I’m sure you would be very glad to rread this if you were here. As I have said before you certainly have a way with wrods and connections. Happy Slicing! 🙂

  7. Sprice says:

    It must be getting late.. Change the “you” to “she” in the third sentence in two places above so then maybe it will make sense. Sorry.

  8. Ruth says:

    Deb,
    I’m glad to get to read Phyllis’ story here. I’m glad you took the time to write it. I didn’t know Phyllis, but now I understand why she was so special to so many people. Enjoy your break & I’ll be looking forward to reading more of your words.
    Ruth

  9. Julie says:

    I read with a lump in my throat and a smile in my heart. She was a gift that keeps on giving. Thanks for the reminder of a special friend and her ongoing impact on those who knew her and those who benefit from her caring heart.

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