Sister Terry: The Learning Center’s “Mother Teresa”

Soon after The Learning Center! Charter School had relocated to what possibly may be at least a part of our permanent location on Conaheeta Street, formerly the Old Pallet Plant, formerly an old lumber yard, Sister Terry showed up in the front office.  White hair framed a smile that not only filled her face but the entire area around the front desk. She introduced herself to me as a nun from the local Catholic Church, explaining that she spent a great deal of time just right up the road at the Community Center in Texanna. Of course, she had noticed our move to the location between Joe Brown Texaco and the old Rock Gym, for she drove by it on a regular basis.  She immediately explained to me that one of her contacts up North had sent her several boxes of books. She wondered if we would be interested in making use of them. I don’t always accept books sight unseen, but in this case I found myself saying that we would love to have them.  Sister Terry grinned even larger, as her eyes twinkled, and added, “I am sure glad your school is here.”

Over the next few months, Sister Terry would show up unannounced, always bearing gifts. From popcorn to ice cream cones, from art supplies, to recycled products that we turned into art, she never came empty handed.  As our friendship grew and blossomed, she confessed to me that she would love to teach a science lesson to some appropriate grade about the science behind fall leaves. Of course, I said yes. Next, she told me about college students that would be arriving during Spring Break needed a project to sink themselves into.  I soon came to expect that Sister Terry would simply show up. I also soon learned to never try to figure out what she may bring or what service she may offer on any particular occasion.  I could, however, always count on the fact that we somehow are eventually in need of whatever gift she brings our way.

Of course, Sister Terry, herself, is the gift of greatest value. I often find myself thinking that joy and happiness spill out of her pockets wherever she walks. Just a week ago, she brought a bag of teddy bears ranging in size from hand-size to big enough to make one take notice.  Additionally she brought a much needed drafting table and two pairs of ladies shoes. I haven’t quite figured out all the details of the role the bears will play, but I know for certain it will come to me and be a part of some rich, diverse multi-method lesson that makes the learning experience so amazing to our students.  I also would not be at all surprised if we soon hear of some woman in need of size 9 dress shoes. Yes, I have learned to simply be open to Sister Terry.  I suspect she is in direct communication line with Life itself.  I am certain that she has and will continue to make richer the lives of all she touches. 

May we continue to bask in the smile and generosity of our own Mother Teresa….Sister Terry.