In the sixteenth episode of the ‘Visits from the Heart’ series, we continue our transition from learning how our residents are dealing with the pandemic and focus on their rich life stories. Brian Morgan, Primrose Retirement Communities CFO, visits with Jackie M., a resident at the Primrose Retirement Community in Grand Island, Nebraska.
Brian starts off by asking Jackie to share a little bit about herself. She leads with the fact that she is a retired teacher. Jackie goes on to boast how fortunate she is to have all four of her children, plus grandchildren and great-grandchildren, living close by in the Grand Island area. She then shares that is has been two years since she lost her husband. He passed just months before they had planned to move into Primrose, so she held tight to the plan and made the move.
Brian asks her about her early years and Jackie shares that she grew up on a farm, working it along with her parents. This is a common story among many octogenarians in the heartland. She tells Brian that she met her husband in grade school. As Brian surmises that must have meant they were together for many years, Jackie reveals that they were married for 67 years. Brian inquires more about her children and we then learn that all three of Jackie’s daughters were also teachers. And while the girls followed in their mother’s career path, her son did the same. Jackie’s husband was a postmaster at the local postal office and their son followed his father to also work in the post office.
Brian then questions Jackie more about her time as a teacher. Jackie proudly states that she worked as a teacher for 34 years. And each one of those years was in the same kindergarten classroom. When asked what she sees is different today versus when she started teaching, Jackie had a pretty concise observation about the lack of play in young children’s schedule. Children now are quite proficient readers by the time they are done with kindergarten. But the accelerated level of learning for today’s kindergartner just doesn’t leave much time for free play time.
Jackie discloses that one of her favorite parts of teaching was taking the children on field trips. She gave an example of a trip to the farm, a place where many children hadn’t experienced that type of lifestyle or had even seen farm animals, like cows, up close before. Again, she mentions that the structured learning in kindergarten today just doesn’t leave as much free time to do things like a field trip anymore.
Brian inquires if Jackie has any advice for the teachers of today. Without hesitation she offers that if you were going to teach in the area of Grand Island, learning Spanish would be very helpful. She wishes she would have learned Spanish.
Brian continues by asking Jackie if she ever considered any other profession. Jackie reflects and proclaims that ever since she was a young girl she wanted to be a teacher. She goes on to confess that if she hadn’t taught kindergarten, she would have liked to teach high school English. At the last second she added that she could have just been a farmwife too.
Brian concludes their chat by making the observation that Jackie was truly a teacher at heart to have worked with kindergarteners for 34 years. He goes on to praise her for her service to youth and how important teachers are for the development of good citizens, especially those with a passion for it like she had. We can only continue to hope for teachers like Jackie that are dedicated to the development the youth of tomorrow.