BY MARY ELLEN CARLSON, HERITAGE HOUSE CHILDCARE & LEARNING CENTER
While eating dinner at my brother and sister-in-laws house one evening, the conversation centered on their new found freedom in the world of retirement.
My brother, Mark, and my sister-in-law, Susie, both retired from their life long professions this summer. Both of their vocations reflect total dedication to the human spirit. Mark has spent his teaching career molding the minds and touching the hearts of children. Susie has spent her nursing occupation tending to the needs and nourishing the spirit of patients.
My dad used to refer to Susie as his angel. This endearing title came with the onset of bladder cancer which he suffered with till the end of his life. It was a time when I saw first hand how Susie worked in her “nursing” mode. She was diligent, compassionate and positive whenever attending to him. She was never on “true duty” at this time, but I saw the concern she showed at all times. On many occasions when I was feeling panic, she was calm and displaying a peace and confidence that only a trained nurse can. She was his solace and for us, his family, an angel too.
“Blessed are they who understand my faltering steps and palsied hand. Blessed are they who know my ears today must strain to catch the words they say. Blessed are they who see that my eyes are dim and my wits are slow. Blessed are they who look away when coffee spilled on the table today. Blessed are they with a cheery smile and stop and chat for a little while. Blessed are they who never say, “You’ve told that story twice today.” Blessed are they who make it known that I am loved, respected and not alone. Blessed are they who know I am at a loss to find the strength to carry my cross. Blessed are they who ease the days on my journey Home in loving ways.” –Author Unknown
Because of where I work, I am observant daily of the actions of the nursing staff at our affiliate, Heritage Park. I stand in awe of the dedication of staff that do not merely treat a patient but give of themselves to bestow sense, love and significance to their lives. Their willingness to serve endlessly in this capacity to heal not only the body but the essence makes them special. I honor you all that choose this giving profession.
After dinner Mark brought out an old cardboard box and was showing me some things he had taken from his desk and surrounding wall in his classroom. He had stacks of cards made by children over the years, expressing their gratitude for making a difference in their lives. Each one of those pieces of tattered and faded papers suggested a life changed or made a little better by his presence and touch. These two aged papers remained above Mark’s desk for the duration of his teaching tenure.
“I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decided whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.”
25 Things Children Need
• Unconditional love
• Healthful, balance meals
• Regular, adequate sleep
• Frequent (daily) physical exercise
• The freedom to be creative
• Time to interact with their peers and friends
• Hugs, kisses, shoulder rubs, snuggles and other
nonverbal expressions of love from people who have their permission
• Consistent, appropriate discipline
• To be listened to and heard
• To laugh
• To feel important
• Responsibilities appropriate to their age and
• Balance in their lives
• To be talked to , not talked down to
• To feel valued
• To make mistakes; to be taught how to learn form
• To be treated with courtesy and respect
• To be safe
• To have their feelings validated and affirmed
• Consistent, predictable limits
• Honesty and truth
• To be taught what they don’t know
• Physical and mental relaxation
• Intellectual stimulation and challenges
Every second of every day we as teachers have the opportunity to serve the youth of our world. It is such a privilege to watch educators in our facility draw on their resources to make a child’s day the best it possibly can be while in our care. September is a time of new beginnings for both the child and teacher. It is an epoch of anticipation where new challenges, new memories and new bonds will be made.
Both of these professions take a great amount of patience and understanding. Teachers in the classroom and nurses on duty are not always seeing their “clients” at their best! It takes cultured instructors to fulfill both of these commanding jobs. Thank you Mark and Sue for your years of service and for reminding me not to take for granted the daily interaction I have with these unique co-workers who give from the heart.
Mary Ellen Carlson has extensive experience in Elementary Education. Before assuming the duties as Director of Heritage House Childcare & Learning Center, she taught at Panama Central School, owned and operated her own home day care, and was the Project Coordinator of “Write Team,” a grant-funded project at the James Prendergast Library.
Mrs. Carlson earned her B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.S. in Curriculum Development/Elementary Education from SUNY Fredonia. She has also continued her education through training in sign language, child abuse prevention, and writing.