Friday, May 1, 2009

This I Believe : In Honor of Penny Payte McLeaish


Edward R. Murrow

“Fifty years ago, millions of Americans sat by their radios and listened to This I Believe with Edward R. Murrow . For five minutes each day, they heard from statesmen and secretaries, teachers and cab drivers, all of whom spoke about their most deeply held beliefs.” ( NPR Radio transcript).

Penny Payte McLeaish, a dear friend and former teaching colleague who passed away last week, was the best high school American history, government, English teacher, and debate coach that I have ever known.

The accolades that she and her students received throughout her career are too numerous to list. 

That, however, is not the source of my admiration.

I admired Penny for her mind and her heart and for her love of the Big Idea- much as Edward R. Murrow conveyed in his This I Believe series.

This love of the Big Idea honored and encouraged and instilled in her students the skill of critical thinking and ran contrary to injustice or separation of any kind: racial, political, spiritual, or intellectual.

Penny, or Mrs. McLeaish as my three daughters called her, because yes she taught all three of them, was fearless in her sense of what was just .

The good news is she was just as fearless in her sense of what was ridiculous. Watching the expression on her face, during some strange staff development session we were forced to attend, was a priceless joy her colleagues will never forget.

Above all tonight I thank Penny for the gifts of thinking and independence that she nurtured in my daughters.

This I Believe:

My life and the life of my daughters will be forever changed  and blessed by knowing Penny Payte McLeaish.



Jennsmere said...

A beautiful tribute to a woman I would like to have known.

Be blessed,

Dixie said...

What a sweet and wonderful tribute to your friend. I don't think teachers are given the credit that most of them so richly deserve. My greatest heros were teachers that nutured my soul, my talents and my intelligence... they gave me the gift of learning, reading,problem solving and sharing my knowledge. I wish all teachers knew how truly appreciated they are by so many that never really say.

So today, let me say... Laura, you are so appreciated for the gifts you have given so many many children over the years.

blessings. Dixie

Sandra said...

What a sweet tribute to this woman who sounds like someone I would've loved!!

Domestic Designer said...

What a wonderful tribute! She sounds like an amazing woman. So sorry for your loss.

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Sorry for the loss of your friend.

KBeau said...

What a wonderful tribute to a friend and collegue. I know she will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tribute!

Jodie (everything vintage) said...

What sweet words from the heart. She has certainly left her mark her on this earth.

everything vintage

Jennifer said...

Mrs. McLeaish truly inspired me to become the person that I am today. I am a teacher because of her. I am a writer because of her. I am a political junky because of her. I am a history buff because of her. And your point about her being able to recognize the ridiculous... I am able to recognize the ridiculous because of her. I am able to see both sides because of her.

Her funeral was at the same time as my dear grandfather. They were actually next door to each other in the funeral home. They had been friends. Two amazing individuals.

Love, Jennifer

Joy said...

We all pray that our daughters will experience a teacher like this. I'm so glad yours did.
She sounds like an amazing woman.



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