We are here today to pay tribute to Mrs. Cheryl Pickerell, upon her retirement after twenty years as a St. Gregory teacher.
She is a lover of wisdom, a lover of beauty, a lover of learning, but more than all that, she is a teacher whose students feel every day the quality of affection she has for each one of them as individuals.
Mrs. Pickerell and I share in common several inspirations to our work as educators, and I thought it’d be fun to imagine what they’d say if they were to see her teach in her St. Gregory classroom.
The Courage to Teach is a book which challenges us to teach from the deepest wellsprings of our inner selves, and if its author Parker Palmer were to visit us here and observe Mrs. Pickerell teach, I know he would say that her “authority as a teacher is the result of her students perceiving her as the author of her own words, her own actions, her own lives, rather than someone playing a scripted role at great remove from her heart.” Her teaching comes from “the depths of her own truth”—and because of this, “the truth that is within her students is best able to respond in kind.”
If Nel Noddings, the author of Happiness and Education and many other books, were to visit, I know she would praise Mrs. Pickerell’s classroom for being a place which “provides a continuity of caring relations, deepens common and individual interests, works together cooperatively, promotes joy in genuine learning, guides moral development, contributes to the appreciation of the arts, encourages love of place and protection of the natural world, and educates for both self understanding and group understanding.”
Now if Dr. Robert Coles, who is a renowned child psychologist, author and one of my own favorite college professors, were to visit our campus, I know that he would say that Mrs. Pickerell is a teacher of “great moral energy” and that he would like to “bless her for all she does to make this life a better one for their fellow human beings”—and I am playing by saying that he would do so, because actually Dr. Coles did indeed write exactly these words when he dedicated to her his book The Moral Intelligence of Children
Congratulations Mrs. Pickerell upon your retirement; your students and colleagues are forever indebted to you.