The best thing about ideas is that they are only yours until you bring them into the world. Once they are out there for all to see or all to share, you have no control anymore. Three years ago, Michael and I had an idea to create a book to help rescue and shelter animals. I did what we’ve all heard, I wrote about what I know, my animal children. Michael added in what he knows and loves, humor and comic bits. We hired a great illustrator, a talented creative designer and selected a quality printer. Boom! We created a book for our intended purpose. Our idea was in the world. We followed the marketing plan and eventually began visiting schools and participating in animal events. We often never know the effect, if any, our book – our idea, has on anyone we meet but sometimes we get a glimpse. Sweet photos are shared with notes of how a child enjoyed the story or meeting the big dog. We learn through a Facebook post how a volunteer and a therapy dog are sharing our book in their community. We get to donate a book for World Down Syndrome Day because their theme that year was “Celebrating what makes us different.” Today we read the story at a school and after, two students burst out with “This is my favorite story I ever heard!” These are joys we could have never anticipated and are so humbled by each and every one we are blessed to receive. Last week may have reached an all-time high. We were at a seemingly typical elementary school but soon learned there was very little that was typical.
Walter Jackson Elementary School in Decatur, AL holds secrets and I have never been good at keeping secrets! Besides, these secrets should be shared. There is an energy in the very halls, it comes from the enthusiasm of the young minds of the students. They are eager to learn, focused and happy to be at school. A visiting huge, white dog may have added to the energy, but it didn’t take long to know it’s a state of mind at this school. It is fostered by engaged teachers and staff. Everybody there seems genuinely happy to be there and doing whatever they do. The Principal, Ms. Rhonda Reece, graciously leads a great group of teachers – all who seem to have the respect of their students. We had the privilege of working directly with one teacher who I have to acknowledge, Librarian Todd McDonald. He opened our presentations as he opens each of his library classes. with a cheer and a squeal from all the students. He proudly proclaims “We are the noisiest library you are likely to see.” The kids absolutely love him and we got a glimpse of why. We send out a coloring sheet to all the schools we visit ahead of our presentations. He had read the story to the students and taken them to our website and held dicussions in advance of our arrival. But there was one more thing he did that really was amazing. In the story, Miss Boo says “We all have spots…our own special design.” The librarian then explained our “spots” are not always on the outside. Mr. McDonald enlarged the coloring sheet onto 3ft wide by 4ft long paper. He then had each student add a polka dot to Max and write in that dot something about themselves that makes them special. There were 5 completed drawings, 1 from each grade, and they were presented as gifts to the real Max when we arrived. Looking at them makes me smile from ear to ear! Their responses reveal so many things. It is hard for me to express how special it feels to read each of these and even harder to express the honor I feel knowing our little idea inspired this creative, caring teacher to devise such a profound activity for these children.
I have posted several photographs so that you can see their choices to describe themselves. I hope it brings a smile to your face, to get a little peek into their minds and in some cases – into their hearts. As you read them, think about your Maxnificence. What would you choose to say about yourself in your polka dot? If you’d care to share, I’d love to read it. Leave us a comment and tell us: What is your spot-what makes you your “own unique design?”