Lights that Led the Way
Peggy K. Mack
July 3, 2013
Several years ago, I was working in an inner city school whose little first graders were all living below the poverty line. Their needs were many including "catching up" with first grade skills especially in language development. Many of them could not name basic pictures like: wagon, ball, giraffe, etc. It was as if those foundational skills we needed them to come to us with for us to teach primary writing skills and reading skills were missing. "Blank slates" they were, in many cases, and the teachers I worked with stayed in the school in spite of the challenges to bring these children up as close as we could to a level playing field with other schools in the county. We were in a constant battle of catch up and we knew it was already an almost insurmountable challenge proven by the fact that no matter how hard we worked, how dedicated we were, the children scored among the lowest in the county every spring.
It wasn't about how capable they were. It was all about the fact that while other children had been reading books nightly, had seen their parents enjoy reading and had been exposed to nursery rhymes and the sound of rhyming, etc, it was all a blank slate. So we filled the slates as quickly as we could with the basics to make it possible for them to master first grade math skills and to read independently.
In that environment were many bright lights, but my dearest favorite was a lady named Lou Bollinger, wife of decades to a retired military man and mother of three children our age. She was forever brightening my room with the melody of "Good Morning!" and the bright smile that was genuine, warm and loving. Her total being was about saying words of kindness and seeing the best in everyone who crossed her path. I was blessed to be transferred into this little lost school and to have Mrs. Bollinger as my classroom assistant. It was the classroom teacher's choice as to how to best "use" her gift of time and love and I did it by asking her to test children individually as I covered a new skill that I hoped would be passed, if not by all, at least by the majority. Each day was a new challenge, a new success. Mrs. Bollinger loved her assignment. She gleefully set up her testing items and recording system by her side at a table and would call one child at a time. Often I heard these blessed phrases from her that were similar to"Well good morning Michael. Thank you for coming to work with me this morning. I love to count, do you? Will you count for me?"
On Sundays my husband and I were teaching Sunday School to a group with several age levels due to the size of the small congregation. Often on Sunday, I would remember Mrs. Bollinger's approach to working with children, loving them, making them feel comfortable and happy. She was a wizard weaving her magic dreams and they were mesmerized by her smile and her voice and her hugs.
Her love during the week carried over into my Sunday School group as if she had drawn the blue print and I followed.
I left that school in 1989 transferring to a neighborhood school near our home. By then, Mrs Bollinger had transferred to work at the county school board office and was happy in her new job.
Mrs. B is the inspiration for the realization I have that we are truly lights that can lead others to Christ, but she was far more than that fact. She gave off a larger effect than looking through a clear glass at a bright light of Christ as the light through glass in a lantern. Oh No! She reminded me more of the light in our church that shone brightly through the brilliantly colored pieces of glass that fit together smoothly in our stained glass window.
For it did not matter who she worked with or their history or their problems, she simply shone brightly where she was with each special one and she was amazingly loving with each of the five first grade teachers even though we were as different as day and night. She inspired all of us who were blessed to know and love her.
So on my way to spiritual maturity came many bright lights, many loving hearts, many forgiving souls. It was because of them all that I have found the pathway that leads to spiritual maturity. Have I arrived? Not yet, for I believe there's new lessons in each day, new inspirations for us to see and understand, or at least, to come to a better understanding of why we are here and what it is that God wants us to do.
I will forever be grateful for the blessing of knowing Mrs. Lou Bollinger.
Psalm 89:15(#9 of 25 Bible Verses about Light)
15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.
Dear Heavenly Father,
It has been almost thirty years since Mrs. Bollinger served You as a light in our classroom. She seemed to know her calling was far greater than to be an employee in a school. For those of us who worked with her, she was an inspiration and a gift, a soft-spoken teacher of teachers. She was a mom to many of us and the hugs our children needed so badly. We patterned our own behavior after her gentle, kind mannerisms. We give you thanks, Lord, these decades later for the lady who was a light in our classroom and in our lives.
We ask you to bless Lou Bollinger and her loving family.
In Jesus' Name we pray,