Monday, October 7, 2019

“The Chicago teachers want school nurses, social workers and librarians” by Mary Richie

Today’s paper [October 6th] indicates that the Chicago teachers want school nurses, social workers and librarians. I often wondered whether a school nurse was necessary in River Forest and when ours retired and was not replaced, I figured we didn't.

Then along came a skinny little girl with unkempt hair to my third-grade classroom.  There were a few rundown frame homes in south River Forest that the owner rented out to employees.  This youngster's mother had run away, leaving her husband in a coup with a passel of kids.  

My little charge had many problems, but the one most disturbing to the running of my classroom was that she would leave a trail of "turds" (feces) in the classroom much to the dismay of her prim and proper classmates.

I bought her clean underwear and arranged for her to change in the old nurse's office, and then deposit the soiled underpants in plastic bags that were there for her use in the same drawer. Well, one day she felt that she didn't want me to know she had soiled herself again so she flushed the cotton pants down the toilet causing it to, of course, over flow!

She grew to love me and, of course, she received lots of my attention.  I realized that the child had a real artistic talent and with her father's permission took her to the Chicago Art Institute one Saturday.  She loved it all but was especially taken by a modern statue by the English artist Moore (Henry Moore, I think).

Anyway, I told her it was a statue of a mother caressing her child.  I could hardly restrain my young charge from climbing up and placing herself in the arm piece of the sculpture.

The next spring the family disappeared, and I never heard of my little girl again.  Each summer I stand by that statue in one of the Institute's gardens wondering how she is all grown up with children of her own.

We didn't have a nurse or a social worker in our schools at that time.  I wonder if they would have made a difference in that child's life.   I can't help but wonder if there aren't thousands of Chicago kids with similar stories.


Mary Richie

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This is touching & says it all; yes, we need our nurses & social workers & librarians, the media specialists!