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Classroom reflections

December 01, 2008|By CLAUD KITCHENS

Cathy couldn't read. She was in her second year as a first-grade student and little or no progress had been made.

To say that Cathy was ill-groomed would be an understatement. She was dirty, her clothes were dirty and her long blonde hair was matted.

One day, Cathy's teacher asked me if I thought that Cathy's mother would mind if she took Cathy home with her after school, to give her a bath and shampoo her hair. Having known Cathy's family for several years, I said she absolutely would not mind.

The next morning as I was entering my office, Cathy came running down the hall and jumped in my arms. She not only had been bathed, but had been taken to a hair salon for a shampoo and styling. She also had on a pretty, clean dress that a neighbor of the teacher had donated.

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In just a few weeks, Cathy was reading and an older sister was making certain that Cathy was coming to school each morning bright and clean. Teachers are the most extraordinary people I have ever known.

Claud Kitchens, who passed away recently, was an educator for more than 35 years, retiring in 1990 as the deputy state superintendent of the Maryland State Department of Education. Prior to that, he was the superintendent of Washington County Public Schools. The Herald-Mail will continue running this column as long as we have previously unpublished material available.

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