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In Your Words

What was your most memorable Valentine from school days past and present?

Once I had a student who thought he was too cool for Valentine's Day. But when he saw all the other kids' cards, he reconsidered. So with red construction paper and glue, we got to work. By party time, he had cards for all. Years later, he came back to school to teach, and every February I'd tell the story of a boy too cool for Valentines. This year, I'll tell the same story—but now that boy is assistant principal.
Carole Lynn Anderson, fourth-grade teacher, Shafter, California, with assistant principal Jason Hutchison
Photo: David Moodie

As a Valentine's Day fundraiser, our chorus sells song performances, both solo and ensemble. Groups, all dressed up, wander the school, pop into classes, set up their boom boxes, call the honoree up to the front of the room, and serenade us. Sometimes, the Valentine's song is meant for me. One group who came to sing to me included a girl who'd been in several of my classes. She'd had some hard times, but she'd tried hard to keep herself positive. This was her senior year, and as she sang the lyrics "Close to you..." we both started to cry, knowing she would be graduating soon.

Claudia Swisher, English teacher, Norman, Oklahoma


As a college student in Florida, my girlfriend and I were having a candle-lit Valentine's picnic on a golf course when we heard a golf cart approach. I blew out the candle, and we remained silent as the cart got closer. "It went this way!" a man shouted."There it is," shouted another. Soon, they were upon us, and one pointed a shotgun directly at our blanket. I jumped up and called out, "There are people over here!" The men were alligator hunting (a common activity on golf courses in Florida) and they'd spotted a huge one near us on the green. Needless to say, the Valentine's mood was broken. And my Valentine didn't remain my girlfriend very long. Surprisingly, she became my wife.

Mike Kakalow, physical and health education teacher, Manchester, Connecticut

February 14th is a day I'll remember forever—it's the day my father died. I was teaching when the phone call came. In class, we were discussing the importance of the "day of love." After I received the call, and tearfully told my students what had happened, they reminded me that my father's "love" would be with me forever. I left class, but I brought with me their beautiful sentiment, and it stays with me to this day. 

Barbara Reall, community college professor, Providence, Rhode Island

When I was in second grade, my classmates and I made Valentines for each other. I was horrified that a fellow student spelled my name "Cime!" I've never forgotten how important names are to people.  Now that I am a school media specialist, I make every effort to learn my students' names and know how to spell them. 

Kim Sloggett, school media specialist, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Valentine's Day is an amazing social equalizer. The children send cards to each of their classmates, no matter their gender, race, or social standing. It's wonderful to watch the surprise and excitement as each child opens cards from friends they weren't aware they had. And in the world of kindergarten, what could be more special than enthusiastic shouts of "Thank you!" heard 'round the classroom?

Kathy Murphy, kindergarten teacher, Mukwonago, Wisconsin


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