Recently, I was watching an interview with the indomitable Jane Goodall. At 84 years old, she is still traveling the world and giving presentations on her groundbreaking work with chimpanzees and inspiring people with her positive message. I also learned during the interview that wherever she goes, she travels with a stuffed monkey called Mr. H. who has a story almost as inspiring as hers!
Many years ago, Jane received the stuffed animal from a man named Gary Haun. Gary was a US marine who lost his sight in a helicopter crash. During his recovery, he met a magician and he decided he wanted to become a magician as well. He was told by friends and family that this was not a realistic goal, but he persevered and learned his trade well. He is so skilled in his art, that he often performs shows and then reveals to his audience after the fact that he is blind. Not stopping at magic, Gary has pursued mountain climbing, skydiving, and even scuba diving. Inspired by his story, Jane takes her stuffed animal with her wherever she goes to remind herself and others of the unconquerable human spirit. After pointing out to Gary that the stuffed animal was a monkey and not an ape (apes don’t have tails), she named the animal Mr. H both for the man who gave it to her and for the word “hope“.
As an educator, I found this story to be fascinating on many levels. Jane Goodall didn’t just study apes, she lived with them and became part of their community. Great teachers don’t just teach their children, they create a community of learners of which they are a part. At age 84, Jane could easily rest on her laurels and take things easy. Instead she keeps up an exhausting schedule to continue spreading her positive message to all who will listen. Great teachers do the same. They tirelessly work with each new class, each new family, and each new student they receive and start each school year with a renewed sense of purpose. Finally, Jane ends each of her presentations not by focusing on her accomplishments, but on the inspirational story of Gary Haun and Mr. H. Similarly, great teachers know that it’s not about them, but about the students they work with and always make sure the focus is on them! I’m thankful for the message of hope that Jane Goodall spreads to her audiences and I’m also thankful for the message of hope that our teachers share with their students each and every day!
“I like some animals more than some people, some people more than some animals.” – Jane Goodall
“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France
“A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.” – Groucho Marx
- Monday, February 11: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
- Tuesday, February 12: Achievement Team (Kurtjian) 8:15 AM
- Wednesday, February 13: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00 PM, Founders Day Banquet at Schoolcraft 5:30 PM
- Thursday, February 14: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Valentine’s Day Celebrations
- Monday, February 18: No School for President’s Day
- Tuesday, February 19: Achievement Team (Kaufman) 8:15 AM
- Thursday, February 21: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Lock Down Drill 3:30 PM
- Monday, February 25: Students of the Month Assembly (Reflection) 9:05 AM
- Tuesday, February 26: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
- Wednesday, February 27: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM/Building PD in afternoon
- Friday, March 1: Jon to Lansing for MEMSPA Board Meeting