Tuesday, March 10, 2020

My Favorite Alma Mater

          I am so crazy about the elementary school I attended that a couple of months ago I ordered a hoodie from it.
          Naturally our son, Richie, came by and said, “Shouldn’t that shirt look a whole lot older?”
          Granted, the old school has been torn down and a new one built, but the principles—if not the the principals—are the same and I want to give it a shout-out.
          Edith Bowen Laboratory School, on the campus of Utah State University, is a Blue Ribbon school which has been around for nearly 100 years. (No, I was not enrolled in their first-ever class!)  It’s still considered one of the finest elementary schools in the world and ranks as #1 among more than 600 elementary schools in Utah.
          My father was a professor at USU, and my folks enrolled me in kindergarten there.  Off I went with my knobby knees and eyeglasses, literally through several feet of snow. Since then it has become so sought after that parents would call to get on the waiting list while they were still pregnant. Now they use a lottery system for enrollment.  All I know is that this is the school where I felt most valued for my talents, most encouraged in leadership, and most accepted for my creativity.
          When I took St. Bob there to see it, a little girl was walking  down the hallway carrying a musical instrument. "Oh," Bob said, "Is that a violin?" The girl explained that it was a viola. Bob whispered,"And there's a little Joni." Yep.
          Two quotes from their website say it all:
"The key is not to standardize education but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions."     - Sir Ken Robinson, The Element
"We look at science as something very elite, which only a few people can learn.  That is just not true.  You just have to start early and give kids a foundation.  Kids live up, or down, to expectations."  - Mae Jemison, Engineer, Physician, and Astronaut (Space Shuttle Endeavor, September 1992)
          It never occurred to me, umpty-ump years ago, that it was unusual to attend a school named for a woman. It never occurred to me that there were limits of any kind to what any of us could do. Different races didn’t matter; character and joy of learning did. So kudos to a school that was ahead of it time, set me on a course of lifelong curiosity,  and even let me be a library helper, immersed in a world of books. Edith Bowen, you rock!
I even named one of the characters in my books Edith. Those books and my Youtube Mom videos can  be found on my website.

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