Saturday, December 26, 2015

"Do right. Do your best. Treat others as you want to be treated."- Lou Holtz

Sometimes, authors and teachers can acquire topics to write about and discuss in the most unlikely places. Such is my topic today!

I have the good fortune to live just a few miles from a little post office in Ingomar, PA, which is in the north hills area of Pittsburgh, PA.  When I published my first book 15 months ago, Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop from a Master Teacher, I was sending out quite a few promo copies to colleges and universities.  I used 3 other local post offices until I walked into the Ingomar Post office.  After my initial encounter with the people in this post office, I will only mail my packages, books and letters with Ingomar Postmaster Mark Wahl, and the other two staff members Dave Werthman and Carol Milnes; and I am only one of hundreds of patrons who feel allegiance to these three individuals.  In fact, when I was there on December 22 for an impromptu books signing outside the office, Mark had arranged to greet the last minute customers with live music, cupcakes, cookies, and soda.  Many people simply stopped by to drop off Christmas cards, lottery tickets, and home-baked goods to their favorite trio of postal workers. 

So, now you are thinking: what kind of place must the Ingomar Post Office be to inspire such loyalty from customers?  And how can I apply their magic formula to my classroom or business? 

Special is a word that is so overused, so I will describe the post office and its atmosphere as unique.  I know that Disney World is supposed to be the happiest place in America, but I must tell you that the Ingomar Post office runs a close second. Customers are greeted with a daily cute joke or pun which posted on a dry erase board.  Every patron is also a friend, and just like the TV show "Cheers", Mark, Dave, and Carol know everyone's name. The old-fashioned mailboxes are still along the wall, and cheerful greeting cards are on a rounder, offering a few fun minutes while waiting in line.  If a person walks in as a stranger, he walks out as a friend.  All three employees exude friendliness and kindness, as well as a sincere interest in their clients.  The fact that Mark, Dave, and Carol are real people, with no pretenses, doing the best job they can in the most cheerful way possible, is what makes this tiny post office so much fun.  Even when long lines are out the door, people don't complain,
because they know that they will be treated with kindness and respect, as well as humor, when it is their turn at the counter. 

Being at the Ingomar Post Office is like stepping back in time, when life was slower and when owners of mom and pop stores knew their customers and their community.  When I was a little girl, my mother would send me to the corner store for a loaf of bread.  The owners knew my family and me, by name, and they even knew even my age.  They would ask about the health of my parents, and I would walk home, after providing exact change for that loaf of bread.  Shopping for that loaf of bread was a very satisfying transaction, from the welcome to the conversation. The atmosphere of the Ingomar Post Office allows patrons to have that same kind of experience as adults.  It is a pleasure to walk into the post office and to enjoy the service and friendliness of an era which is gone, but not forgotten.

What can classroom teachers, and even business people learn from the tiny hole in the wall that is the Ingomar Post Office?  My answer is simple and direct. 
*Put the best YOU forward. 
*Look students or customers in the eye.
*Be your authentic self. 
*Establish positive relationships through conversations, even small talk.
*Do the best you can do every day on the job, whatever the job may be, and  complete your work with grace and humor.  
*Make students/customers feel that they are important, and that you are happy to see them.

The Ingomar Post Office has won many awards.  I have posted some pictures below, including a shot of the Post Office Cup (sort of the Stanley Cup for the USPS) and you will see that all of the patrons lined up to get photos with The Cup!  A picture of some of the hundreds of CONGRATULATIONS awards, as well as pictures of Mark and Dave and Carol are also included.  I am thrilled that my two books, along with the book of my former student Jill Cueni-Cohen, are on the shelf in a place of honor for all patrons to see.  

Kudos to the Ingomar Post Office, for being the happiest post office I know!  And kudos to Mark, Dave, and Carol, for humor, diligence, respect, caring, and kindness. Their positive attitudes set a great example for others every day, and good attitudes are contagious!  

Our books on the shelf at the Ingomar Post Office

Dave and Carol 


Pictures of patrons with The Cup!!

Dave, Elvis, Mark

Grady is LOVED - by Dave! 

As always, I welcome your comments or suggestions. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at .  The website IS UP AND

RUNNING!!!.  Signed copies ARE available!   

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

Connect with Dede!

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Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER.  Signed copies are available 

Dede is the co-host of The Total Education Q & A, which can be heard on Blogtalk Radio at

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