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.

Month of Letters 2013: Turtles, Hearts and Postcards

It wasn’t hard to send on days 1 and 2 of the month. I had commitments to fulfill. 🙂 I sent six postcards and one card in an envelope with the back decorated for Valentine’s Day.

I sent postcards and a decorated envelope yesterday, February 1st. The two postcards that follow were sent for the “Send a Smile for 33 Cents” swap. I can rarely squeeze what I have to say onto one postcard, so my lucky partner will receive two. The second postcard was oversized, so this smile costs 78 cents, but the pleasure–for sender and receiver–is priceless!

Turtles basking at City Park in New Orleans (I miss City Park!).  Photo by Me!

Turtles basking at City Park in New Orleans. Photo by Me! Postcard printing by moo.

I love these turtles and I think I saw the same turtles practically every time we visited the park. It is my son’s favorite park, so we visited A LOT before we moved–at least once a week. I miss City Park!

Quilts of Gee's Bend

Quilts of Gee’s Bend

This postcard comes from the Quilts of Gee’s Bend postcard collection referenced in an earlier post, Swapping Faith and Books.

Okay, now, don’t judge me for my crazy and random envelope art. Usually, as I hope you can tell from other posts, my envelope decor is a bit more orderly and “clean.” In this case, I just looked at my V-day stickers and decided to use some of everything–rather randomly. I was in that kind of mood. Ask my son. He’ll let you know that I sang practically everything I said to him the same day I decorated this. I sat down and drew and colored the hearts with him at his desk to encourage him while he was finishing his homework. Not sure those hearts would be there otherwise. On the card enclosed, swappers had to write a Bible verse or quote. I chose 1 John 3:18: Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity). AMP

Random Hearts

Random Hearts

Today, I posted postcards for a “Superhero Postcard Swap” Two partners will receive two postcards each. Once again, I couldn’t fit everything on one card. Here are the cards I sent:

I’m not sure I have a favorite superhero, but if I have to choose, Batman it is! He’s “human” and he relies on skill and intelligence (and a few tools) to defeat his foes. Plus, I enjoy some of the wonderfully weird and whimsical super-villains. These postcards come from The Art of Vintage Comics collection of 100 postcards. Check out Superman’s expression in No. 247. And Batman and Robin losing to “the Bat-woman” (No. 233). Too funny! Catwoman is always awesome. Well, there was that one Catwoman who didn’t quite hit the mark…

Who’s your favorite superhero? Super-villain?

Swapping Faith and Books

I participated in a few postcard swaps last week.   Interestingly, each of the postcard swaps I joined asked that I share a verse, a quote or something about the book I’m reading “now.”  I searched through my stash to find postcards that either complemented the swap theme or coincided with my partners’ interests and favorites.  Here’s what I came up with:

This one was for the “Christian Quote” (on a postcard) swap:

Legend of the Dogwood

The postcard is probably more appropriate for the Easter Season, but I think my swap partner will appreciate it.  I chose a quote by Ben Patterson from the Couples Devotional Bible:  “According to the Bible we have no rights!  Whatever we do we have because God in His grace and generosity has given it to us. When we realize this, there comes into our lives a joyful gratitude for what we have, and we are freed from resentment and anxiety over what we don’t have.”

I had two partners for a swap entitled “There’s a Time For…”  For this swap participants had to share a verse from Ecclesiastes and a prayer for their two partners.   Both of my partners like cats, and I was fortunate enough to find two more cat postcards in my stash.

The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter (1907)

Okay, so this next one is not exactly a “cat” postcard, but it has a cat in it…

“My Father,” 1914, by Marc Chagall (Russian, 1887-1985)

I chose Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 and contextualized and commented on the texts based on what I perceived about each partners’ needs:

The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.

Lastly, I sent out two postcards from the Quilts of Gee’s Bend collection for the “Bookworm Postcard Swap.”

Quilts of Gee’s Bend 

Quilts of Gee’s Bend

These brightly colored “textile masterpieces” were created by four generations of African American women in Gee’s Bend, described as a remote “backwater of Alabama.”  The women made the quilts from scraps and worn-out work clothes.  I first heard of the Quilts of Gee’s Bend when I participated in a seminar on the African American Imagination at NYU two summers ago.  The seminar was facilitated by renown art historian Leslie King-Hammond. You can find pics of the quilts here:  Gee’s Bend Catalog.

I was reading Homer’s The Odyssey when it was time to send this swap.  I have read it a zillion times, but I never get bored.  Now, my students might tell another story…