Some of you may be wondering why I have chosen to wear a tie this morning except for you Norma who might surmise that I wear one everyday. Norma, I must confess. This is not the case, but what I do want you to know is that I am wearing this tie because I am practicing.
I am practicing.
Tomorrow I fly back home again. Back to the small pocket of the world known at the Northeast Kingdom. It is a beautiful time of the year in Vermont as it is where Norma lives. A time of the year that while living there I often took for granted.That happens sometimes especially when we don't realize all that we have until it is gone.
Up north this time of year the world is changing. It is showing all its beautiful colors of wonder in differing shades of reds and oranges and faded yellows. Going back home again, I too, realize that I have also changed.
No longer the boy who stopped speaking because every word he spoke got stuck on his tongue; no longer the boy who when he put the words on the paper they came out backwards; no longer the boy who sounded out the words but could not see; and I am no longer the boy who was told at school to stop looking out the window when it was the only song that made any sense.
Remember the little bunny who was left alone and went into Mr. McGregor's garden even when he was told he couldn't.
Peter Rabbit just had to go under the fence because somebody told him he couldn't.
He did it anyway.
He broke the rule and somehow he turned out OK.
Peter Rabbit showed me what comes with practice. He showed the boy who stuttered how to read the words and see.
A few years ago in the mountains of North Carolina I had the opportunity to listen to Norma's story and in our conversations over the past few months about literacy instruction, I have come to know that Norma is truly an advocate for the the Peter Rabbits of the world, and she does this with practice working alongside teachers as they get to know the children without the tie discovering all the wonderful shades of reds, oranges and faded yellows before they fall to the ground. She gets to know them by crawling under the fence and when they practice what she has left behind the Peter Rabbits of this world thrive.
I introduce you to Norma.