We'll still do the usual - recognize someone who lights up his corner of the world by shining brighter than those around him - or, in this case, her. Even our method of recognizing our recipient will be the same. A short note, sealed in a yellow envelope (or a white envelope decorated with yellow markers). The words, "Yellow Envelope Project" placed in the return address, and then mailed sometime within the next six days.
So what's different? Today we will take a short departure from the list of nominees we have been working our way through.
Today I've made an executive decision that Ms. Fowler must be this week's recipient of our Yellow Envelope Project. Ms. Fowler is the first grade teacher of my nephew, Anthony. She's been teaching for twenty-three years and, while twenty-three years might (for some) be code for burn out, this is not the case for Ms. Fowler. After twenty-three years, she is energy and experience personified! Ms. Fowler knows her stuff and has command over her first grade class in such a way, that General McCrystal would be suitably impressed.
But here's what really makes Ms. Fowler shine. Anthony wrote an essay for class and in the essay described his family's holiday traditions. Ms. Fowler not only read the essay, but is so attentive she wrote a personal note telling Anthony how wonder it must be to spend Christmas in a house where there are so many wonderful traditions. Anthony - thoughtful child that he is - immediately invited Ms. Fowler to spend Christmas Eve dinner in his house with his family.
SHE ACCEPTED! Ms. Fowler made a guest appearance at Anthony's house on Thursday night. And, as you might expect, Anthony felt like a rock star introducing her to grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. First grade teachers already hold a special place in most of our minds and hearts, so a first grade teacher who shows up to your house for Christmas dinner has got to be in a league of her own.
I spoke with Ms. Fowler for a period of time before dinner, but it was immediately clear there was something pre-ordained about her career as a teacher. She was positive, energetic, calm, and pleasant beyond measure. She is exactly the person with whom you would want your six year old child spending the day. Ms. Fowler and I would have spoken longer, but she had to excuse herself so she could watch Anthony make the dinner salad. She knew from previous conversations with Anthony that making the salad was his nightly responsibility and she wanted to be sure to catch him in action.
If I spent eight hours of my day with twenty three six year old kids, I'm pretty sure I would be "otherwise engaged" when an invitation was presented to spend Christmas Eve with anyone who was under the age of... say, 35.
Not Ms. Fowler. She showed up at Anthony's Christmas dinner and made him feel as magical as Santa himself. Join me in letting Ms. Fowler know she shines, because she makes time for priceless memories and makes young people feel important. I don't know her home address, but maybe the spotlight we shine on Ms. Fowler will be extra bright by sending it to the main office at her school...
First Grade Teacher
1801 Hall Johnson Road
Grapevine, TX 76051
Signing off until Monday, when I'll be coming to you from New York.