Why Am I Still so Fond of Mrs. Mann,
and How Can You Benefit from Her Wisdom?

Marc Wiltse

Do you remember kindergarten?

At the moment, the bits and pieces that are coming to me are about 15 other kids and myself sitting in a circle playing "Doggy, doggy, where's your bone?", making make-believe boats out of card-board brick blocks, and taking naps on the sailboat blanket mom had hand-stitched my name on with thick white yarn.

(Ever wonder who came up with the idea of "nap-time"?  Most five-year-old kids want to lay down and be quite for 30 minutes just as much as your average cat likes to jump in a tub full of water.  But that's another story...)

While I was thinking what to write for this article, Mrs. Mann, my kindergarten teacher came to mind. I had always liked her and probably consider her my favorite teacher.  But why?

Mrs. Mann was our teacher for only part of the year as she was hit by a train.  Somehow, though, she managed to come through it all with a broken collar bone and some other injuries; it was enough, however, to put her out of school for the rest of the year.  I don't remember seeing her again after that.  So why is it after all this time I still feel a very warm fondness for Mrs. Mann, even though it's been 25 years since she was my teacher? Good question, and one I couldn't answer until...

I was waiting tables at Bill Knapp's (a family restaurant) during college and one day a co-worker said to me, "There's a woman in the booth up front that says she was your kindergarten teacher."  I immediately went to her table and she said, "Hi Marc, how are you doing?"  Now remember, this was over 15 years later.  I think most people have a hard enough time remembering someone they met last year, let alone someone who's grown three feet and become an adult.

I asked her how she recognized me, and she told me that her students pretty much looked the same even though we'd grown older.  She also said she liked to keep tabs on who was getting married by watching the wedding announcements in the paper.  That impressed me.

It also explained the reason I liked her so well--because she cared, and still does.  Think about the relationships you value.

Are the ones you value the most with people who demonstrate a caring attitude toward you?  I bet they are.  If you use this concept of caring and show your interest in others this way, your relationships will become that much stronger and you'll get that much more out of life.

I'll bet you'll see that as you ask people how something important in their life is going, powerful things will start to happen.  My guess is you'll see some quick initial results which may seem to plateau, and then with continued investment, your life will keep changing for the better.

Do I guarantee it?  The better question is, do you guarantee it?  You have the power to make your life anything you want it to be.  I want to see you happy, healthy, surrounded by good people, and prosperous.  I hope you do, too.  Life is like an investment--invest in yourself in good ways, and it will pay you handsomely for life.  When people fail to invest in themselves, they fail themselves as well as well as people they've never met and could have had a positive impact on, just as Mrs. Mann invested in me and I'm sure every student she ever worked with.

Apply this idea to your personal relationships, career, or business.  It's an unwritten rule that whatever you give will come back to you, and I've seen it myself many, many times... but that's another issue.

Thank you Mrs. Mann.

Anyone else for graham crackers, milk, and a nap?

Copyright Kathy Sly and Marc Wiltse.  All rights reserved. 


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Yes, life can be mysterious and confusing--but there's much of life that's actually rather dependable and reliable.  Some principles apply to life in so many different contexts that they can truly be called universal--and learning what they are and how to approach them and use them can teach us some of the most important lessons that we've ever learned.
My doctorate is in Teaching and Learning.  I use it a lot when I teach at school, but I also do my best to apply what I've learned to the life I'm living, and to observe how others live their lives.  What makes them happy or unhappy, stressed or peaceful, selfish or generous, compassionate or arrogant?  In this book, I've done my best to pass on to you what I've learned from people in my life, writers whose works I've read, and stories that I've heard.  Perhaps these principles can be a positive part of your life, too!
Universal Principles of Living Life Fully.  Awareness of these principles can explain a lot and take much of the frustration out of the lives we lead.