The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

My Photo Mystery

on August 31, 2015

Some of you may be wondering what the dark spot is on my face in the photo at the top of this blog and why I chose to be known by that particular photo. Let me explain. The spot is a Painted Lady butterfly that was one among many raised in our first grade classroom at the rural Oregon school where I was principal from 1988 to 2000. I chose that photo as my emblem because it expresses my love and faith in our public schools, our children, and our teachers.

The photo was taken by first grade teacher, Rachel Sudul, on the day the butterflies hatched in her classroom. A month or so earlier she had come into my office asking if she could have some school funds to buy a butterfly larvae kit and a tent to keep the butterflies in. I was surprised and fascinated by her plan to raise butterflies in her classroom and use them as a tool for student learning. Of course I gave her the funds she needed, never suspecting what a great teaching tool they would be.

Rachel’s students, just beginning to read and write, followed every step in the growth and development of the larvae and the behavior of the resultant butterflies. They drew pictures, wrote about what they saw, made up butterfly stories, and sought out books in our school library to learn more. Although I can’t remember everything the teacher or the kids did as part of this project, I do know that it was a total success. Our first graders, mostly from poor families, who had come to school with few skills and little academic knowledge, were now learning the basics of reading, writing, science, and research. I continue to be proud of Rachel, who is still doing great things as a teacher at a different school in rural Oregon.

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