This is the perfect segway to rewind time. Get in your Delorean time machine space-traveling sports cars and go back a couple of months -- back to the Illinois Reading Association held earlier this spring. I met Carie, pictured above, following my workshop presentation. Carie stopped by our Zaner-Bloser booth the following morning and this is when I learned "the rest of the story."
Carie is a kindergarten teacher. While that role alone is sufficient for my nomination to "Shero status," it was Carie's previous work that caught me completely and totally by surprise. Carie came to the ZB booth to get a chance to see my new picture book, "Red, White and Blue" up close and personal. As we chatted she explained why the flag and patriotism are so near and dear to her heart. Are you ready for this? She had previously served our country in the Army reserves -- for nine years and she was stationed in Iraq for a year!
How many kindergarten teachers do you know that have served a year in Iraq for the Army? Carie 'signed up' as a 17 year old, with her parents permission and went thru basic training between her junior and senior years of high school. (More evidence of her drive and dedication.) Following 9/11 she served in Iraq as an NCO Training Specialist. Carie left the Illinois reading conference intent on teaching my song to her kindergartners in her own recent email words:
"I have tried to instill some patriotism in my little kindergartners by teaching them to respect the flag, show respect during the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner and lastly to respect others as well as themselves! I have also created a display case that honors our troops."
This is just the foundation for a truly amazing story. Wait until you see what Carie's been up to with her kindergartners while I was visiting our European Army bases last month for "Month of the Military Child." This truly is the making of a human interest story of the year. Stay tuned. I'll give you just one clue: quilting.