Friday, August 23, 2013

Letter of Reflection

I was recently asked to participate in a book-writing project that someone is undertaking. The person doing this is planning to compile several hand-written letters from various residents in Newtown for a December publication date.  The letter should be reflections regarding their life in Newtown over the years.  There were no other specific instructions.  The following is the letter I submitted:

 August  2013

Dear Reader,

Ah, Newtown!  Forty six years of memories all beginning in September of 1967.  It’s hard to imagine that I’ve spent two thirds of my life here. On top of that I spent 32 of those years  working in the very community where I live.  That began in September of 1973 at Sandy Hook Elementary School were I served as a 4th and 5th grade teacher, a lead teacher for three years and finally as the school’s math/science specialist for 4 years until my retirement in 2004.

My wife and I raised two children in this town and eventually my wife established an accounting firm with her partner here.  So our ties to Newtown are quite strong and certainly well established.

I have seen many many  changes throughout the years.  But it seems the one thing that has served to keep me rooted so to speak is my years at Sandy Hook School.  There were many times when I would have colleagues ask me how I could possibly stand teaching in the same community where I lived.  It must be such a nuisance to have my private life scrutinized to the same extent as my professional life.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  I loved having past and present students and their parents greet me in stores, restaurants and just about anywhere else I went.   The friendliness and affection shown to me was a constant source of comfort. 

Make no mistake.  I had my share of distractors but they were in the minority and not nearly as troublesome as you might think.

I have been retired for 9 years and while I have found plenty to do, not the least of which is frequently baby sitting for 4 grand children, I still find myself thinking of my days at Sandy Hook—especially now.

I have many wonderful memories but one in particular involves the parent conferences we used to have twice a year.  The rule was that one of those conferences had to be an evening conference to accommodate the schedules of working parents.   On numerous occasions parents would use that opportunity to invite me to their houses for dinner after which we would discuss their child’s progress.   I don’t know of many other places where something like that would happen.   It served to cement relations and show the students that their education was a cooperative effort because we cared about them.  

There are so many other things-the Jolly Green Giant fair, dozens of school bus field trips, Push Cart Wars Day, the Parade of States, plays, concerts, on and on and of course the most important thing of all-the kids-many of whom have reached out to me on Facebook.  It’s a source of great satisfaction to see how well so many of them are doing.

There’s a great deal more but I’ll spare you further nostalgia.  Suffice it to say these past several months have been painful beyond words-for the entire town-not just me.  But at least I still have all those great memories to draw on. 

And now a word about the future, my older grandson will be starting kindergarten at Sandy Hook School this year.  I have already reached out to them as a volunteer so I can continue to look forward to many more good memories. 

I think that’s the key to getting through this good life.  Dwell on the good stuff and keep moving.  Simple, right? Well, maybe not so simple but it’s the only way.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane and I hope you have some good stories of your own to tell.

Best regards,
George Stockwell

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