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I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin & a best friend. I am a poet, a lawyer & a survivor. I've learned that God will give you a second chance.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Thank You, Miss Burelle

I recently had the opportunity to visit my hometown and reconnect with several women from my teenage years. Our common denominator is the high school we attended. My school district was so small that we all knew each other and had friends from several classes. We took over the local bagel shop. The other patrons must have thought we were crazy with all the squeals of delight and identifying each other by our former names.

After 35 years we did not necessarily recognize each other’s face, but we knew names. As we shared memories from the late 70’s and early 80’s I could look into the eyes of my companions and see the younger face that I remembered. At one point, my renewed friend called out to one of the patrons. It was her aunt. We started talking about her aunt. Given the last name I asked, “Did your aunt teach kindergarten at Chaplin Elementary?” Why yes she did. It was my kindergarten teacher!
We reconnected. Of course I had to give her a hug and have Becky take a picture to post all over social media. Who wouldn’t? It’s what we do these days. She remembered me. And as Miss Burelle shared her memories of teaching, she asked me what year I was in her class. It surprised me to realize that kindergarten was 1969. Miss Burelle shared that she often wonders if she made a difference, but seeing us all together made her realize she must have. After all these years we chose to come together for an informal reunion and reconnect. (Miss Burelle almost had skipped the bagel shop that morning).
It startled me to think she would doubt her impact. So let me tell you, Miss Burelle. Yes, you made a difference. You made a huge difference. You took a tall, awkward girl who did not know her place in the world and introduced her to school. You taught a child who was bullied right from the start how to love learning. This girl grew up. Not only did I graduate from high school, I went on to college and eventually law school. I continue to love to learn, and I do not tolerate bullies. My parents and classmates would say I’m a success. It all started with you Miss Burelle, because you cared about me. You loved me, and took care of this shy, vulnerable child. Eventually, I blossomed.
Thank you, Miss Burelle. Yes, you made a difference.

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