My children have never attended our local community school, but many of their friends do. Sometimes there are jealousy issues between them and their friends (or their friends' parents), but for the most part, there are seamless friendships that cross the boundaries of school-no-school, just like they cross those *other* boundaries between homeschoolers and unschoolers. Because kids are cleverer than adults, and they know that those boundaries aren't real.
So it is, that since having school-aged children with school-aged friends, we've usually had at least one friend regularly attending Mr. Brown's class, at our local community school. I have never met Mr. Brown, and honestly can't tell you a thing about him, his values or his manner -- except that he is wonderful. Every single child who has mentioned him to us speaks with a smile at least, if not adoration.
We're definitely not into the school system, but that has nothing to do with the kernel of truth I take from this situation: There is an amazing goodness that comes from a solid and constant connection with a kind, trusted person. And for so many local kids, Mr. Brown is that person. I know there are countless people in the world who fulfill this important role in their communities -- even other beloved teachers here on the island, including my own most excellent brother. But today I post this because it strikes me as truly wonderful that the gift these people share spreads so far into the wider community -- even to those who have never met them! That is some badge of honour!
And to illustrate that point, let me tell you that right at the moment I type this my daughter (who has also never met Mr. Brown) is somewhere on a trail, happily making her way to the school, where she will meet 4 friends who currently attend Mr. Brown's class, to join them in caroling for him. I hope Mr. Brown sees that this is just a little of the magic he spreads, making its way back to him!
Thank you, Mr. Brown, and to everyone else who works and cares with passion and compassion. Your efforts are sparkling everywhere.