Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Student Becomes the Teacher Again!

Sarah Tantillo is the author of Hit the Drum: An Insider's Account of How the Charter School Idea Became a National Movement.  

I first met Sarah around 1995 when we were both in the Long Beach Island Elementary School. I was a 5th grade teacher, and Sarah was in my student. If you had told me then that by 2021 she would have four books and be one of the nation's top experts on the charter school movement, I wouldn't have doubted you for a moment. On the other hand, if you had told me that in 2021 she would be teaching me things about my wife of almost 55 years that would give me an even greater appreciation for her, I would ask you what you were smoking, but last night she did just that.

During an interview by Michael Scotto, one of her former students, she was asked to share some insights about how a parent can best support their child in school, and she told a story that hit me like a ton of bricks. Watch this six minute segment and I'll explain. 


If you ask me whether I prefer vanilla or chocolate, I would simply say, "Chocolate."  If you ask my wife the same question, you will likely hear about the first time she tasted a Hershey bar, the time my son put a bowl of vanilla ice cream on his head, her introduction Neapolitan ice cream, and the plot of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Eventually, I would get the answer I was looking for five  minutes earlier. 

After listening to Sarah, I realize that at the same time she was sitting in my 5th grade classroom, Jill had been that mother in the supermarket for five years with our children. While I was teaching Sarah and the other students at LBI, Jill was laying down the educational foundation for our children in ways that I couldn't begin to match.

So after 55 years of marriage, the next time I ask my wife a simple question, instead of getting impatient when she goes on a verbal safari, I will think of Sarah, the woman in the supermarket, two amazing kids, and I will be thankful and grateful for all she has done.

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