Sunday, April 22, 2007

Staying In Touch With A Former Student

As I entered my office on Friday morning, I noticed the red light on the phone denoting I had a voicemail message. What a pleasant surprise to learn that a former student was going to be in the Des Moines area and wanted to reconnect.

Tammy (Fiala) Stephens, one of my very favorite students from Peterson Elementary (where I taught 6th grade for 8 years) was participating in a two-day workshop in the Des Moines area and wanted to get together for a meal. I called her right away and made arrangements to pick her up during her lunch time.

Tammy was in my 2nd group of 6th graders at Peterson Elementary on the south side of Council Bluffs. Her mother, Carolyn, was a terrific room mother and volunteer during that school year too! Five years later I had Tammy's younger sister, Cindy, as a student in my 6th grade homeroom. The Fiala girls have been special friends ever since! When they both graduated from High School, then later college, I was invited to their graduation celebrations. When they both married, then later had children, I was invited to the weddings and baby showers. We mostly stay connected through Christmas cards and an ocassional meal out. It was extra special connecting with Tammy this day as later on in the evening I am to give the "welcome" at our spring ISEA Student Program Conference. I'll share with those students how "you'll get a tear in your eye the day a former student walks back into your classroom/life and tell you how you made the difference for them." I say, students like Tammy (Fiala) Stephens and her sister Cindy (Fiala) Biederman made the difference in my teaching career!

Tammy is an Occupational Therapist with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha and serves students in the Omaha Public Schools. Tammy and her husband Todd have two daughters, a 4th grader and a Kindergartener. Thanks Tammy for staying connected---students like you and your sister Cindy are what kept me motivated to continue my teaching career!

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