Over Winter Break, our family watched more movies than I care to admit. My kids were not thrilled when it was my turn to pick the movie, and I picked It’s a Wonderful Life. (I’d like to think they ended up enjoying it more than they thought they would.) Like many of you, I’d seen this movie several times, but something new stood out to me this time: there is a framed quote on the wall of the Bailey Brothers Building & Loan that reads, “All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.” Our community’s generosity, which I have mentioned many times before, makes me think that this quote would be just as much at home on any wall at Colorado Academy.
An encounter with a generous spirit one evening in the Lower School
A bunch of talkative parents entered the classroom and squeezed into smallish chairs grouped in threes and fours. The small talk subsided, as we settled in for Fourth Grade Back-to-School Night. All of us knew the drill: there would be some curriculum highlights—something about math, the list of books to be read, the big projects for the year—and then the parent volunteer opportunities.
Without any introduction, Suzanne Kolsun Jackson started reading a poem. I can’t remember now—was it Emily Dickinson? Was it Shel Silverstein? What I will never forget, however, was how a roomful of grown-ups was captivated and transported—our grown-up cares fell away for a bit, as we were carried off by poetry. When it ended, we collectively felt the moment and caught ourselves looking around, smiling. “KJ”, as she is affectionately known by generations of students, knew we were now putty in her hands. She made the most of her opportunity, telling us that we could help change the world, one reader at a time; that one of the greatest gifts we could give our children was reading aloud to them; that our time with our children was short, so we should read together every day.
That evening in the Lower School, we did cover the Fourth Grade curriculum, but what we remember best is entering a world painted by the words KJ read, a world built by a labor of love. And we went home feeling love and inspiration, just like her students did every day.
KJ is a role model—not just for her students, but for us parents as well—modeling how to use what you love to show love to those around you. The pandemic hastened her retirement, and we will be forever grateful for all that she gave to our students, our families, and our school community. But as special as she is, KJ is one among so many amazing teachers at CA, who every day give our students the gifts of imagination and joy. Their passion and generosity of spirit will be long-remembered by their students, and will spark other acts of giving.
I know that thinking about a labor of love isn’t the usual chocolate-and-roses sentiment that we associate with this season, but thinking of KJ reminds me to keep looking for the beauty and the wonder around me—a helpful reminder especially now, when it seems harder to find them in the world around us.
If there is something that you love that you would like to share, please let us know how the Parent Association can help you do just that. A big “thank you” goes to our parent volunteers, who have stepped forward to lead parent activity groups this year. This winter, Lissa Cullen is organizing our new parent Peloton group, and Karen Ceraso has re-started the CA parent book club. We are so grateful to these parents who are giving of themselves to benefit our community.