Little Blue Ribbons

Carly's Little Blue Ribbon

   I wrote this almost exactly one year ago as teachers were anxiously awaiting the decision of our then-governor Charlie Crist to veto a controversial merit pay bill. Fortunately, he did and teachers around the state breathed a collective sigh of relief. Little did we know that the bill would resurface with a vengeance this spring - making this post even more relevant today than it was a year ago.

  "Mrs. B, can you tie this ribbon in my hair?".  The innocent request pulled me back into the reality of my classroom. Carly wanted me to tie a pale blue ribbon around the tangled mess of curls she managed to secure into a low ponytail.  The combination of her slight speech impediment and her new retainer made the word sound more like "wibbon".  After hearing her sweet voice and looking into her innocent hazel eyes, I immediately felt a catch in my throat.
    "Sure honey, turn around. Let me tie it for you. Is that too tight?".
    "Nope! Thanks!", she chirped as she skipped back to her seat to finish her morning work, oblivious to the swirling chaos in my mind.
      I watched her and the rest of my class and tried to hold back the tears as I contemplated what lies before them under the changing face of education in Florida.  Will future teachers take the time to tie a little blue ribbon in her hair? Will teachers indulge a child with the tiniest cut when they ask for a bandaid they really don't need? Will teachers listen to rambling, irrelevant stories about weekends and pets and families when kids make those excited utterances at the strangest times?
The question weighing the most heavily on my mind though is, will I?
     Will I be the same teacher I am now?

Carly's mom's response (shared with her permission):
     Carly needed you to tie that ribbon that I curled for her the night before. I wasn't able to be with her in the morning as I had a 7am flight to Baltimore to help my mother pack up the house she lived in for 40 years; which is following the recent deaths of my father, and then in quick succession, my grandmother. I have a whole lot of crying ahead of me this weekend.
     I have unfortunately been absent from much of my "mommy" life for months. That is where you have been irreplaceable. You cannot imagine the inspiration you have been to both of my daughters; teaching them not just the ability to pass a test, but the ability to grow, mature, and lean on me a little less.
     A year ago, Carly did not have the independence and courage to ask for personal help. You have given her much more than just an education.
     I know how the possibility of this bill becoming law would stymie any professional - whatever I can do to help, please let me know.

     It will be difficult, but I know I will be the same teacher I am now. How could I not?

1 comment

  1. Denise. I 'found' your article -- in a much belated manner, this morning, through Pinterest of course. Your thoughtfulness and dedication are a beacon for all. Your willingness to ponder and reflect on your ever-evolving, yet crucial role in the lives of children is an example to us all.

    Having spent a day in your presence and feeling first hand your gracious support and kindness gives me further insight into your caring and capability to nurture. When you feel the tug and tussle of everything from politics to more immediate challenges, take a deep breath and tie a little blue ribbon again.

    You make a world of difference. The impact of your caring ripples outward on a daily basis.

    Sending you much love and additional respect.

    Debbie Clement


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