She was one amazing woman, teacher, and friend! Ann Reichmann never ceased to amaze me. I met her when I was employed at Blackburn College, serving as the Director of Clinical Placements and Student Teaching. It didn’t take long to know her, as her reputation preceded her. Described as quite the firecracker, she captivated her audiences, telling stories like none other. If a student in her class, your eyes would be glued on her, following her every little step as she pranced quickly around the room in those heeled pumps. When she walked in the room, by golly you knew it. Her laughter, her demeanor, her bouffant hair, she totally owned the classroom, the stage, or the social gathering of which she was part.
I learned a lot from Ann Reichmann. I learned the importance of proper planning and preparation. I learned the critical nature of analyzing one’s audience before speaking (not that I always practiced this ;-)). I learned that building relationships with students comes first before ANYTHING ELSE! She modeled the importance of never judging students (anyone really) based on the opinions of others. “Let your own experiences guide you,” she would say. She also brought joy to her work, loving the job of teaching AND learning, AND always learning! Most importantly, she loved her students, her colleagues, and most especially her family, always sharing stories, so proud of them and their accomplishments. Ann Reichmann was a class act and a most amazing role model educator. I aspired to be more like her. In fact, I still do.
Obituary available HERE.
Dr. Bob Denby served as my college professor and supervisor for the English education portion of my student teaching experience. I held him in the highest esteem, as he was a man of extensive knowledge and exemplary character. He was soft spoken, but all the more reason to listen up. He modeled care, concern, compassion in every interaction, attributes that every teacher should embrace and practice if they’re not already part of who they are. Dr. Denby asked questions, lots of them, always interested in knowing more about you. Definitely a listener, one of his most recognizable traits. But his desire to provide and promote opportunities for aspiring educators was known by all. A college professor, he was committed to serving his students with fidelity and most especially, heart! He was a class act, a professional educator who truly walked the talk. A most loyal and dedicated public servant to the many professional educators he supported, Dr. Denby leaves a legacy of hope, the belief that one can change the world.
Obituary available HERE.
Many know Karley Christopher! Karley has been a trauma ICU nurse for about six years and is currently studying to become a family nurse practitioner while working as a full time nurse. Her friend, Tiffany Kline, recently accepted a short term travel nurse position in New York City. She will be there for about a month before returning to Kansas City. Both women are currently working in the COVID-19 unit at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. They work extremely hard, putting in twelve hour night shifts. They and so many like them are going to work each day to serve the sick, putting themselves in harm’s way. We would like to send a BIG TIME THANK YOU to Karley and Tiffany and ALL healthcare professionals for their unwavering service to others, a description of a HERO, indeed! PLEASE know you are appreciated by so many!
One person a day, hey, whatta ya say?
It’s difficult meeting new people when you are isolated in your home, working. Or so I thought. But I happened to meet one incredible teacher on social media. Twitter of all places?!? Let me emphasize the fact that we have not met in person! I was drawn to her because of her posts, always centered around her lil’ kiddos and her belief that they can be whatever they aspire to be! Her name: Mrs. Ryan!
I knew she was great for kids simply because she was always posting pictures of kids having fun in her classroom. Eventually I came to learn she is a kindergarten teacher. Well of course! Her demeanor, even in social media, matched one of a primary teacher perfectly. How do you know? Well you just do! I can spot one in a heartbeat! A primary teacher is a most patient and loving teacher. Compassionate, giving, fun, too! A cheerleader type who shows enthusiasm in all she does is another way to describe those teachers who spend the day with 'lil ones. And these characteristics? Well, they perfectly capture Mrs. Ryan!
Not too long ago, Mrs. Ryan posted a sweet video of her student’s mother who came to visit school to serve as a guest reader. She read in her native language while her daughter sat next to her. It reflected the very spirit of education in America: the importance of literacy, equity, parent engagement, hope, freedom, opportunity, love, pride....and I could go on!
And anyone who was Mrs. Ryan’s twitter friend would find picture after inspirational picture of her kiddos learning and growing- and loving, really loving school! Mrs. Ryan continues to motivate, inspire, encourage and love, exactly what comes to mind when one thinks of a kindergarten teacher. ️
Out of the blue, my friend Mrs. Ryan sent me the most incredible gift: SOCKS! Yup, that’s right, SOCKS! But not just any socks, #pinksocks! And with these socks comes a vision: “WE’RE CENTERED AROUND PASSION, EMPATHY, CARING, & CONNECTION!”
Was I ever excited to receive these, for they were special because they came from my new awesome friend, Mrs. Ryan, AND I just happen to love the mission and message behind them! BY THE WAY, they look great with heels!
I must emphasize the fact that Mrs. Ryan and I have yet to meet but we continue to interact through Twitter. While a person who values personal interaction, I understand the importance of social distancing during these times. I’ve also come to learn and appreciate that making friends with exemplary people is - without a doubt - possible without meeting face to face. I do plan on meeting Mrs. Ryan in the future, however.
Truth ~ Our Earth is Full of GOOD!! I found some of that goodness on Twitter! You can too: @mrsryan310
Please meet Victoria Hargrave. She serves as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Jersey Community Hospital in the Illini Clinic when she is not serving in the Army reserves as a 66P, which is her MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) and the same role in which she works in her civilian profession. Victoria serves with the 811-1 Urban Augmented Medical Task Force (UAMTF), a unit recently established during this COVID 19 crisis. Members of her unit and she were given little time to report, roughly 48 hours for most. They traveled to the east coast.
Currently, her unit is housed in Stamford, Connecticut which is close to New York City and the Bronx. They are staffing two units at Stamford Hospital with military personnel caring for all COVID 19 positive patients. A few days ago, leadership identified Victoria's unit as a joint task force, comprised of not only Army reservists but also active duty Navy providers and Air Force Reservists. The task force is new to the Army Reserves, so they are indeed making history! You can learn more about Victoria's unit and their mission HERE.
Having a family makes one's time as a service member extremely difficult. Victoria has an eight-year-old daughter, Aubrey, who is in the second grade. Her husband, Dr. Brad Hargrave serves as a dentist in his hometown of Jerseyville, Illinois. While Victoria feels blessed to serve her country, leaving her daughter and husband behind is challenging, as one can only imagine. Her husband is also an essential provider, which creates a great burden on the family, as their daughter had to leave home to stay with family due to the high risk jobs held by both parents.
The sacrifice made by our military active duty members and health care providers is great indeed. Please keep these hometown heroes in your thoughts and prayers. Their service on behalf of OUR country and communities is commendable in every way! We look forward to Victoria's safe return home and having this incredible family together again! May God Bless!
Please meet another hero, one of our own from Shipman, Illinois: Taylor Dunham, Tate as many of her family and friends refer to her. If you would have asked family and friends a few years ago what Taylor would be doing today, not many would guess she would be leaving the rural area at which she lives and serving her country in the big city of New York!
Tate is a member of the 932nd MDS Airlift Wing out of Scott AFB. Her role when on active duty in the Air Force is as a medical technician, trained to practice at the level of an LPN. When not active in our military, you will find her serving patients as a CNA at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon.
Tate’s unit mobilized to New York recently to assist the medical staff during this pandemic and, unfortunately, do not have a return date planned. She shared a few words about her deployment and anyone who knows her would not be surprised by the kind statement that reflects the Taylor we know and love, “I am very happy to be here and do my part to help keep everyone safe and healthy.” You can learn more about Taylor's unit and deployment HERE.
Please keep Tate, Robbie, and her family in your thoughts and prayers. We are so grateful for Tate’s service on behalf of her country and look forward to her safe return home! May God Bless!
Shipman resident, Michelle Verity took a break from her in home childcare work to bring a little good cheer to community members, those who are continuing to serve others during these unprecedented times. ️
It all began with combining the love of baking with the appreciation for people who continue to go to work each day to support the needs of others. ️
Let’s begin with the most incredible ladies who serve our children every day. The cafeteria staff at Shipman prepare meals each day for students. These meals are distributed to students throughout the Southwestern region. Featured here are Dawn Ansell, Tammy Graham, and Sheila Thornton, Shipman Food Service Professionals. Big thanks to them and Diane Milner who took the photo. They continue to serve our children daily! So here's a GREAT BIG SHOUT OUT to ALL food service workers who continue to prepare and serve meals for our kiddos! We are so grateful for you!
Our AWESOME Marathon service station mechanic, Kevin Praither also continues to serve others, providing the best service to the community. From oil changes to fixes to our automobiles, Kevin is a community gem who remains open for service. Prior to COVID 19, the Marathon station was the gathering place for community greats to gather and solve the world's problems. It will be that again - SOON!
We also appreciate having Pammy’s in town where one can pick up products from a gallon of milk to a fountain soda or even a six pack of your beverage of choice. It's the convenient quick stop shop for local residents or even those passing through our GREAT small town of Shipman!
So thankful for our farmers and those who serve them, from the incredible employees at CHS (Shipman Elevator) to the fab John Deere employees, like Dave Nord. Meeting the basic needs of humankind requires food! Thus, a BIG TIME THANK YOU goes out to our farming community!
While our world seems to be put on hold due to unprecedented circumstances brought on by COVID 19, many continue to do good work, providing exemplary service to their community. It's always nice to celebrate people. Reflecting on the good that others continue to bring to our communities is important. Big THANKS to Michelle for combining baking skills with gratitude to share a little love with others!
We are seeing amazing community connections at work every single day. While living in isolation or following social distancing practices, showing support and love to family and friends who’ve lost loved ones during the time of the COVID 19 crisis is challenging but very necessary. Goodness shows up on all fronts. Citizens from small communities and large cities are figuring it out. They are inventive, finding creative solutions to pay tribute to close friends who’ve passed during these difficult times.
Gathering in the neighborhood he built were friends of Paul Rose. One could stand on the doorstep and glance into the neighborhood to find residents standing in front of their homes to bid farewell to their friend. A moving, picturesque sight to see, a entire neighborhood lined with people who have been directly impacted by Paul. He was extremely influential to them. After all, he built the house they have made their home. While a gathering at the local funeral home where stories could be shared would have been optimal, the former is the way it has to be for now. But WOW, the community responded just as expected: with heart and love!
In the small town of Shipman, first responders assembled to show their support of one of their own, Larry Pittman, who passed during this unprecedented time. Saluting their comrade, fire department chiefs and volunteers from the region lined the street with their equipment: fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles. Our American flag is displayed with honor, giving credence to the comradery that is ever so present in times such as these. It was quite a site to see. (Photo compliments of Andrea Powers).
Congregating on State Street in Jerseyville were many farmer friends of Joel Randolph, paying their respects to the family, as gathering at the funeral home is simply not an option at this time. No doubt Joel was loved by so many, as farm trucks and equipment could be seen far and wide as the procession traveled through town. (Photo compliments to Michelle Verity).
So many challenges that no one could foresee as a result of the response to COVID 19; however, the loving and supportive response by communities is nothing short of AMAZING! It’s simply a reminder that people are good, really good! They will find a way!
While we wish the current circumstances weren’t the current circumstances, all those who’ve suffered the loss of a loved one during this time, please know you are in the thoughts, hearts, and prayers of so many.
Struck by the signage posted on Brighton's North Main Street (111), I immediately felt a sense of community spirit and hope. So much hope! While these times are challenging, they are bringing out a whole lot of good stuff, too. So here's to the individual(s) who created and posted this sign for all to see! THANK YOU! What a beautiful way to remind others to keep things in perspective. Be kind to each other, indeed! God Bless ALL!
What do you get when you combine skills and heart? Amazing mask-makers, that's what!
Let's give a big SHOUT OUT to those who put their skills to work to benefit so many others. Friends Forever members, Peggy Cheney and Helen Reed sat down at their sewing machines to fill mask requests from family members, friends, and colleagues. Dennise Crotchett was contributing to the Helping Hands in Jersey County requests from community members across the region. Teresa Muntz went to work as well, making so many masks, she had to replace her sewing bobbin! Teresa's masks can be picked up at the old Radio Shack south of Jerseyville.
Big thanks to these ladies and ALL others who have shared their talents by creating masks to keep others healthy and safe! You are appreciated more than you know.
A show of kindness can have an effect that lasts a lifetime! YOU are ALL Difference Makers!
Meet Cathy and Mitch Reynolds. They are active members of the community and all but something beautiful and truly amazing occurred during the start of this pandemic when Cathy went to the store to shop for meals for the week, knowing she was going to be isolated in her home with her family for quite some time. Upon arriving home after grocery shopping, she realized she had forgotten an ingredient for a meal, which got her thinking. How many have forgotten items from their grocery list? How many don't have the means to go to the store to prepare for the quarantine? How many shouldn't be going out during this time due to their fragile health or weakened immunity? Upon reflection, Cathy acted with HEART! She created a Facebook account to respond to the needs of those in her community: Helping Hands in Jersey County.
She reached out to her friends in the community, and never - in her wildest dreams - would have realized the response she received. I spoke to Cathy recently to get the scoop, and she responded exactly how I expected she would - with these statements:
Cathy shared the story about an unusual request she received from a community member who couldn't go out. She requested some hamburgers and orange juice, which were available. She had asked, too, for French fries. Cathy knew this was not an item in stock but would see what she could do. Not long after that conversation, a community member had dropped off a donation on Cathy's front porch (which is the means for receiving donations and picking and picking them up for delivery). She messaged Cathy to ensure she knew the items were there. What was included? You guessed it: French fries. God Winks...
There are so many stories to share about Helping Hands. It really took the deliberate action of one with the courage to ask for the assistance of others that created a movement that has impacted the lives of so many, even kids. Pictured above is Cathy's son, Walker, who is seen helping out too, delivering goods. He is an eighth grade student at Jersey Community High School. "Let the kids feel this giving spirit." It's all about the modeling and the feeling that giving back generates.
It's important to mention that Mitch is a Jerseyville police officer and Cathy runs a preschool out of her home. You might see Mitch at the local library, taking part in a read aloud for kids. Although not currently holding preschool in her home, Cathy provides activity packets for her lil’ ones. She also records videos that her kiddos can view at their home so learning remains a part of their routine.
The Reynolds Family continues to give back, serving the community in which they go and grow with a whole lot of HEART! They also wish to thank the community for their continued support. To sum it up, I’ll use Cathy’s own words: “We are ALL neighbors in Jersey County."
Upon observation and reflection, I’ll simply offer my two cents ...️
This COVID-19 precautionary period stinks! No doubt about it! And YES, our way of life has significantly changed now that we have:
An airport without travelers.
A business without clients.
A carpool without passengers.
A church without parishioners.
A concert without followers.
A game without spectators.
A gym without members.
A home without visitors.
A hotel without guests.
A mall without consumers.
A meeting without attendees.
A rally without supporters.
A restaurant without customers.
A school without learners.
A theater without fans.
A nation without normalcy.
And while we are unimaginably impacted by what we don’t have in our community, what we absolutely, indisputably do have is:
While the challenges are great, the blessings I am observing are far greater. ️
Imagine experiencing one of the most important and special days of your life: the birth of your first born lil' blessing! Generally, you would be surrounded by family and friends, all curiously awaiting the introduction of your most beautiful miracle. Instead, you rush to the hospital, enter a most empty lobby, get checked and locked in your room - only you and your spouse - and await what comes next: the countdown to a sweet birth, the phone calls, the texting, the only way to communicate the good news with loved ones, as they can no longer rush to the hospital and excitedly hang out in the waiting room for someone to shout out, "He has arrived!" No visits to the room, no congratulatory comments and hugs and tears to share. And then what? Well, you bundle up your little blessing and head home, only to arrive at your house with no interactions, no congratulatory party waiting to provide hugs and kisses, no ewes and awes, just you, your spouse, and your brand new bundle of miraculous joy. You go inside, get settled, and then life begins in a whole new and very different way, a much better way. But still, you long to share your blessing with your loved ones, showing him off and showing the new you off, the new mom, the best mom. And then... a blessing occurs like no other. You receive a most incredible visit from someone who's love for another human being can never be measured! It comes, that knock on the window from someone wearing the greatest smile for what is to occur: Good 'ole Grandpa gets to meet his special little buddy for the first time! Oh how that very first simple view through that glass window reflects the deepest love radiating from Grandpa to his first born grandchild. While we would rather have the former - the visits and kisses and giggles and lovin', we remain focused on the latter: the cherished moment Grandpa and Daughter will never forget. What a most precious moment indeed.
Do I ever hope we all continue to celebrate those milestones or special achievements ~ even if only those in our own households can attend. Life will be better and soon gathering together for events will be the new norm! In the meantime, Ginger Bean cupcakes, cakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls, chocolate-covered everything, and more are available at Bucks Crossing for your special occasion! They even have drive-up and pickup service so socially acceptable distance can be maintained. ️
THANK YOU to the amazingly talented Ginger of Ginger Bean Bakery at Bucks Crossing for making the most beautiful cake for a special couple! WOW!!!
The planning of a once in a lifetime event involves so much time and organzation. This is an event where two people are joined as one. Wow! The selection of a beautiful and unique wedding gown; scheduling the venue months in advance; the selection of the wedding cake and cupcakes, the planned meal, the decision on a DJ or band, and then booking; the announcements, selecting the perfect colors and verbiage to include; the tuxedos and shoes, and-and - the list is never ending. You plan a year in advance at the very least. You book the venue and prepare the guest list.
And then out of nowhere THIS: COVID 19 Quarantine!
While the BIG event will be forthcoming, the beautiful marriage of two special people occurred on the the bride's parents' dock. It was an awesome service in spite of everything! Congratulations to Alyssa (Burns) and Paul Hayes who were married Saturday in a beautiful ceremony with limited guests lining the drive, maintaining a socially respectable distance of course.️ There will be plenty of stories to share in years to come.
The lil’ kinders at Jerseyville West are receiving a neat little packet of continuous learning activities. The most important, notable feature of this packet appears on the front cover! Every teacher’s picture is proudly displayed for all students to see. So when they pull out their packet, the little ones will get to see a picture of their smiling teacher, reminding them that they are missed and loved. Teachers are creative thinkers, understanding the needs of their students. They realize that some children don’t have access to the internet and won’t have an opportunity to view the themed and spirited videos, engage in storytelling, or participate in Zoom instruction. With this packet, though, they get to view the smiling face of someone special, one who loves them very much! Yes indeed, they get to see a picture of their teacher! ️
Helen and many of her colleagues from East Alton-Wood River High School really miss their sweet kiddos! Making signs, creating videos, and posting them online is one strategy school teachers, support staff, and leaders are using to communicate with their students. Thinking of all students, staff, and parents at this time.
What can you do when you’re at home, isolating yourself to ensure the safety of others, preventing the spread. Well, Julie does this: pulls out some colored construction paper, cuts out hearts of differing sizes, and places names of those who so selflessly serve others in the midst of today’s challenges to say - THANK YOU! ️
Stay SAFE! 🧡