Wednesday, September 25, 2019

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." Henry Adams

I drove home from church last Sunday a back way on some country roads rather than taking the freeway.  The drive was so relaxing, and as I turned a corner, I suddenly found myself  passing the home of my 6th grade teacher, Miss Malcolm. Suddenly, I was 10 years old and  back in Birdville School.  I remembered the classroom perfectly - Miss Malcolm liked everything to be neat, and the desks were arranged around the outside perimeter of the room, side by side. In my memory, I could reach inside the cavity of the desk and retrieve my individual learning math book, where I solved the problem and slid a red plastic strip down the side to reveal the answer. (Even then, I thought that "new math" was a stupid way to learn!)  I could see the books arranged on Miss Malcolm's desk - and I remembered the dust jacket of a new book she bought titled TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. (Little did I know then that I would become an English teacher and teach that book for 35 of my 37 years.)

Miss Malcolm was sometimes a little stern but fun, with a great sense of humor (a necessity for teaching 6th grade!) She was the third teacher I had (after Mrs. McLaughlin in 4th grade and Miss Cook in 5th grade) who recognized that I could finish a task in one fourth of the time it took the others.  By 6th grade, I was reading above college level.  (Reading was a gift - but math and science were not.)  After a few mischievous events occurred when I was bored in class, Miss Malcolm began bringing books into class for me to read when I was finished, thus eliminating the possibility that I would disrupt the others who were still working.  It was a great plan - I loved to read, and she had peace and quiet in her classroom.

Miss Malcolm was a great listener who always seemed to know the answer, and I talked about her at home to my parents incessantly.  Turns out, my parents were friends with her parents, and our teacher/student bond grew even closer.  Miss Malcolm took a special interest in me.  She treated me like a friend, and I knew she was trying to broaden my world and knowledge. She took me to see GONE WITH THE WIND on the big screen in downtown Pittsburgh one Saturday afternoon; sometimes we went roller skating together; and sometimes I went to church with her.  She stayed with my brothers and me for a weekend when my parents went to daddy's army reunion.  She was a great friend, and one of the reasons I became a teacher.

We did not see each other very often through the past 30 years, and she passed in October of 2015 at age 76.  I sometimes wrote her a card or a note, thanking her for being such a great teacher, role model, and friend. Through the years when we encountered each other at local events, I reiterated my appreciation for her guidance and love, and told her she shaped me as a teacher and role model for others. 

I am so glad that I took the time to write and speak my thanks to Miss Malcolm, and I am grateful for the memories and time of reflection, all because of of passing her house while driving. Her influence on my life has been immeasurable.

This recollection brings me offer this advice:  If you appreciate a person, tell them now. Don't wait. Life and time are both so fleeting, and no one is guaranteed a tomorrow. 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 
Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school.  if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom.  and a company called GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 and 2018 (new edition) from The Authors' Zone.Grady also won a 2018 prestigious Moonbeam Award for Best Children's Book with Merchandise.

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

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! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

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 now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
 Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

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