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Learning From Elders

Apr 14, 2022 | Uncategorized

Learning… A Life-Long Process


Both “Don’t Be That KID! At School” and “Don’t Be That KID! At Home” begin with our KID having a conversation with his grandfather. This was done intentionally to stress the importance of respecting and learning from family elders.

My grandmother lived to be 98! She had all of her faculties and put on a lovely dress every day. She just went to sleep one night and never woke up. I loved visiting her and hearing about her life. She fled Russia, came to the United States and went through Ellis Island alone at 16. She spoke no English and immediately enrolled in night school to learn it. She was a quick learner. When she arrived, there were horse-drawn carriages and streetcars. She lived to see a man on the moon! If I have one regret, it’s that I never taped or made a video of her telling her life story. I thought about it but just never did it. It would have made an incredible keepsake for our family.

If we want children to learn to respect individual differences and other cultures, It is important for them to first learn about their own heritage. Over generations, as families continue to assimilate into American culture, many of their original country’s traditions are lost. A great activity for children to do is to interview an older relative or family friend, depending on the circumstances. Work with them to create a list of questions to ask. The person they interview can just answer the questions, or children can tape or video the interview.

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About Lois McGuire

I have been fortunate to work in a career I loved: EDUCATION! I have 35 years of teaching and leadership experience. I began my career as a fourth and fifth-grade teacher, became an Assistant Superintendent of Schools in a large K-12 diverse school system, and retired as the Superintendent of Schools of a highly acclaimed K-12 school district in New Jersey. I worked with outstanding teachers, caring parents, and supportive community members.

I am honored to have achieved many accomplishments in the areas of instructional supervision, curriculum development/direction, personnel issues at all levels, public relations, budgeting, facilities and grant writing. In particular, I was awarded seven Best Practices Awards by the New Jersey Department of Education, nine Awards of Excellence from New Jersey School Boards, and the New Jersey Coalition of Educational Leaders Award for Outstanding Service and Leadership. A highlight of my career was when I was asked to join New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean at the Governor’s Conference in Cincinnati to discuss youth-at-risk. I have been a consultant to the U.S. Department of Education and the N.J. Department of Education on such topics as parent involvement in the schools, career development for children, character education, positive communication skills, and strategic planning.

I earned my Doctorate in Education from Rutgers University. I enjoyed teaching adults as an adjunct professor at Rutgers, Bloomfield College, and St. Peter’s College where I taught courses in the areas of education, psychology, and human relations.

I am presently retired and living in Florida with my husband, Jim. I wrote Don’t Be That KID! at Home, Don’t Be That KID! At School and the Don’t Be That KID! At School Resource Guide to help educators and parents guide their children through the maze of building essential positive character traits. I hope you enjoy the books and resource guide as much as I enjoyed writing them!

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  1. Kathryn Marie Holcomb-Kirby

    This is an amazing article and the interview suggestion is right on point. I wish I had done that with my Dad before he passed. I did do this with my Mom and am so grateful.

    • Lois McGuire

      It’s worthwhile to do with any older relative or good friend. So glad you did it with your Mom!

  2. Bryan Daly

    I have a saved voicemail message with my Fathers voice and I cherish it. Listening to his voice just saying please call me brings me to tears. I wish I had more pictures and would love a video. Thank you for sharing your post! HUGS!

  3. Megan Miller

    I love the story of your grandmother – and this is the kick in the pants I needed to do the life story with my Dad, who has a lot of really interesting chapters. History can repeat itself, or it can build on itself — and with your books, it’s definitely the latter!


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