Freedom Quilt Patterns | Farewell, Mrs. Crarey

(Log Cabin)

School ends in a few days and Mrs. Crarey, my favorite second grade teacher, is retiring.  I’m sad for all the children who will miss the opportunity of learning under such an amazing person, but I’m happy for her.  She’s earned her retirement and  she will certainly make deep impressions wherever she goes.

Mrs. Crarey is simply awesome.  Even with a classroom full of many different personalities and learning styles, she has a way of dealing with her students as individuals and stimulating their intellectual curiosity.  I love her not only because she is awesome but because she just loves my son, and even today–three years after he finished second grade–she is a friend of his heart.

I will always be grateful for the way she kept his curiosity piqued and gave him more challenging work when he surpassed benchmarks.  She used his love for reading, robots, science, animals, Star Wars, and mystery to keep him engaged.  That meant a lot to this mom who was uncomfortable in a newish environment with a kid who was pining for home (New Orleans) and still adjusting to a school day structure and approach to teaching and learning that were very different from the Montessori curriculum of his previous experience.

When I blogged about the fifth grade African masks a few months ago, I mentioned there was so much more art to see–much more than I can cover in a couple of blog posts.  But in honor of Mrs. Crarey’s retirement and the tremendous gift she has been to the school, this post focuses on her group’s art fair exhibit.

Mrs. Crarey approaches art purposefully.  She typically has her students complete art projects that connect to a lesson. When my son was in her class, the students drew and learned about owls, West African-style dwellings, jewelry, and women’s attire, geckos, dinosaurs, which I blogged about three and a half years ago, Dr. Seuss, and so much more.  I’m going to miss taking a walk down to her classroom and taking a peek at her students’ masterpieces.

In addition to other art pieces, the class created quilt blocks. After reading Bettye Stroud’s The Patchwork Quilt: A Quilt Map to Freedom, reading about the Underground Railroad, viewing and studying maps of the “slave states” and “free states,” students selected a quilt pattern to draw and color.

“Freedom Quilt”

According to some studies, the quilts played an important role in helping enslaved persons make their way to freedom.  Each quilt piece held significant meaning and provided directions and warnings. Although there have been verbal statements from descendants of enslaved persons regarding the quilt code, there has been no physical proof.

Take a look at the children’s quilt pieces [click an image for a closer look]:

Follow the link to find out what each of the patterns mean: Freedom Quilt Codes.

Farewell, Mrs. Crarey…We’re not sure how we’ll survive the coming years without running into you for our quick chats, but we wish you well on your journey.  Thank you for the fond memories, for your generous spirit, and your heart of gold.

Much love…XOXOX

Mrs. Crarey and My Little One, December 2013

A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart.

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14 Comments

  1. What a sweet tribute to this Lady, Chandra… Yes, teachers are really precious! I will always remember and cherish the memory of some of these Irish nuns who were devoted to the Education they gave us…

    Reply
    • Thank you, Louise! Agreed! Teachers are precious. I remember fondly my first and second grade teachers and some others further down the line. Memory is a little fuzzy from some years, but most made deep impressions. 🙂

      Reply
  2. What a beautiful tribute to your wonderful teacher. Not to mention beautiful quilts.

    Reply
  3. Congratulations, Mrs. Crarey! We all benefit from the work of great teachers. You have obviously helped these young people, not only appreciate the beauty that their ancestors made, but to create beauty as a tribute to them; and for our pleasure. Thank you, Mrs. Crarey!!!

    Reply
  4. Beautiful quilts and wonderful way to learn their history. Your tribute to this amazing woman is very moving.

    Reply
  5. What a special post, for this special teacher. I STILL remember the lessons I learned while also creating some sort of art. Lessons about Australia, about history, oh so many. Thankful to those teachers for making learning fun, and for encouraging me to learn more than what they had time to teach. Still learning something new everyday!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Sheila! I will pass your comments on to Mrs. Crarey. Isn’t it wonderful that those early lessons helped create the artist you are today?

      Reply
  6. “Friend of his heart” — what a perfect description of the place a special teacher holds. And she is definitely a special teacher with amazing projects that will stick with the kids for life.

    Reply
  7. Chandra,
    Quilts reach out with warmth from the giver to the receiver. Such an important part of our history! Thanks for this post about such a wonderful teacher.

    Reply

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