Yesterday I went to a Memorial Service for a very special woman. Connie Redwine was a mother and substitute teacher at McCoy Elementary - the school I worked at prior to resigning due to my SD. In fact, Connie was my substitute while I took medical leave to figure out what was going on with my voice. She was a wonderful woman.
I wrote this in remembrance of Connie.
When I first came to McCoy Elementary, it seemed like everyone knew who Connie Redwine was. No matter who I talked to, they knew Connie as a loving mother of Paige, a hardworking PTA member, or a trustworthy substitute teacher. I don't think I ever talked to anyone who had anything but good things to say about Connie. Once I learned who she was, I don't think I ever saw her without a smile upon her face.
After four years or so of casual conversations in the teachers' lounge during lunch hours and several brief written interactions regarding substitute teaching assignments, I finally got to know Connie better when I found myself faced with a very unwanted medical leave which eventually led to my resignation from teaching at McCoy.
Connie Redwine agreed to be the substitute teacher for my class during my medical leave. Six weeks in a fifth grade class - that is enough to scare most substitutes and to put fear into the hearts of even the most experienced teachers. However, Connie stepped up for the job with a smile fixed upon her face. Yes, she admitted to me that she was a bit nervous but she still took the job.
The six weeks started out with me writing lesson plans and just hoping that Connie would understand them. I would bring in new plans each week and I would sit down to talk with Connie about how the previous plans had gone. I discovered quickly that Connie really understood the children she was teaching. She could evaluate each child and his or her progress, or lack thereof, quickly and could make needed changes to the plans I wrote based on these evaluations. Connie wanted each and every child to learn and to do his or her best. I don't think I would be too far off if I said she looked at each child in the same way she would look at her own daughter. She wasn't just there to fill space, she was there to teach. She was there to care.
It became clear during our weekly discussions that the students weren't the only people Connie cared about. She asked caring questions about my situation and was the perfect person to listen to my fears and frustrations. In fact, there were times that the two of us just sat as I sobbed at the prospect of not being able to return to teaching. Never did Connie make me feel uncomfortable or judged. She simply made me feel cared about and loved. Yes, she made me, a person whom she hadn't really had too much interaction with prior to this situation, feel loved.
People often wonder if there are really such things as angels who walk among humans upon the earth. Personally, I don't question their existence. I know that they exist because I met one in that fifth grade portable at McCoy Elementary School. There is no other way I can explain the comfort, support, understanding, and love that I got from Connie Redwine. She was my "Earth Angel."
The Connie I came to know , however briefly, during that time will forever be in my heart and I will eternally be thankful that God led her into my life just when I needed her.
God Bless you, Connie. May you rest with God in his kingdom until we meet once more.
Voice Update: Still on track with my exercises and massage so things are looking up!