"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Jim Trelease is Retiring

Jim Trelease is retiring.

Jim,

In 1979 I was relatively new to education teaching third grade in Monroeville Indiana. During my first two years of teaching I had read aloud to my students every day. One of my professors at Indiana University had emphasized to us that one of the most important parts of our reading curriculum was exposing children to good books and the best way to do that was by reading to them. Each year I would read a dozen or so novels to my students and at the end of the year we would vote to see which ones were the most popular. Reading aloud to my students has always been my favorite part of the teaching day, and having the vote at the end of the year was one of the most enjoyable parts of my teaching year.

In this particular year, 1979, I ordered a book as part of the Weekly Reader Book Club titled "Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook for Parents and Teachers." Thus began my relationship with your books and your research which is now approaching 3 decades.

This book in its several editions has been one of the most important influences on my 31 year (and counting) career as an elementary school teacher. I've taught every grade from Kindergarten through 6th Grade (except 5th...not sure how I missed that) and am now a Reading Specialist (former Reading Recovery teacher) working primarily with first and second grade students. In every position I've held I have made it a point to read to my students and The Read-Aloud Handbook has always been my number one source for materials.

When my daughter had her first baby I made sure she had a copy of the Read-Aloud Handbook. When my son started teaching I made sure he had a copy on his first day of school. When colleagues celebrated births of their own children your book was the gift that I chose for them. When I had the opportunity to join a team of teachers in our school system who were trained to present talks to our colleagues on various educational topics I chose "Reading Aloud to Students" as my topic and The Read-Aloud Handbook was my main resource.

I visit your web page and have used it to read your comments on a variety of topics from censorship to No Child Left Behind. Today, as I was looking through your web site I noticed that you had retired from your lecture circuit to spend more time with your family and, I assume, read to your grandchildren. When I read of your retirement I realized it was time to write a fan letter.

So, as I wind down the last few years of my career, I just wanted to let you know that your influence has been felt...by the hundreds of children who have spent time in my classrooms, by the colleagues to whom I have presented the book as a gift and the content as a presentation topic, and by my own three children and grandchildren.

Thank you for helping to shape the career of this teacher of young children. Thank you for providing me with a nearly endless supply of books to choose to read to my students. Thank you for inspiring me to keep read-aloud as the most important part of my teaching day. And thank you most of all for your help and advice in raising my own children to be competent, experienced, and fulfilled readers.

Congratulations on your retirement. May you have many years to continue to enjoy and inspire the future generations of your own family.


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5 comments:

Meg said...

Did you really send this to Jim? It's a terrific tribute from one outstanding educator to another.

Stu said...

Yes. I emailed it to him. Got a nice response, too.

Schmoil said...

That's really cool, daddy-o! Good for you, and sad for those of us who never got to see him speak...

Ellen said...

I have happy memories of being read to by my poppa!

Stu said...

Dear Stu:

What a wonderful note! Thanks for the kind words and thoughts. Coming from people like yourself who have been in the trenches all these years, your words carry extra meaning. Judging from your blog, it's obvious we're on the same wavelength in education.

I wish you all the best in your remaining years in the classroom. The children are very, very lucky not to have lost you to an administrative position.

Warmly, Jim