You Are My Sunshine

Adrian in schoolyardI am so honored to have been nominated for a Sunshine Award by Pat Johnson. The Sunshine Award is a lovely way that bloggers recognize each other. Basically, it spreads Sunshine from one blog to another!

The Sunshine Award was started by Matt Renwick, an elementary principal in Wisconsin (@readbyexample). Here are the rules Matt lists in his post:
Acknowledge the nominating blogger. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
 Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love! Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

Here are the questions that Pat ( asked me along with my answers:

1. If you hadn’t become a teacher, what would you have been?                                         This is such a difficult question for me to answer. Teaching really fulfilled me in so many ways. I could be creative, silly, serious, industrious, social, well, just about anything. I was a very poor science student when I was in high school and in college. As a teacher, though, I loved science. I saw it in an entirely new way. I was opening up a world of wonder for the children and, coincidentally, for myself too. So teaching did fill so many needs that I had. When I was younger, I thought that I might become a writer, possibly a reporter. Now that I’m “retired” from the classroom, I have many opportunities to write about my passion – teaching- on my blog. How lucky can one person be?
2. Tell me something about the grandparent who meant a lot to you.                               When I was very young, my mother and I lived with my grandmother. My father was overseas (WWII) and I imagine that this was economically, practically, and emotionally a good place for my mother to live. My father came back from the war when I was almost three and we moved to our own home, temporary barracks that were built for returning veterans. I spent almost every weekend with my grandmother, probably so that my parents could “reacquaint” after such a long separation. I hung out in the kitchen with my grandma or sat with her as she crocheted. It was a very homey feeling when I was with her. Unfortunately she passed away when I was nine years old. My mother tried to explain to me that Grandma was up in heaven. I have such a strong memory of sitting by my bedroom window at nighttime, looking up at the stars, and wondering which star was the one where my grandmother lived.
3. My favorite charity is…Doctors Without Borders
4. What’s the funniest thing a student every said to you?                                                   Some years ago I was teaching pre-k at P.S. 321 in Brooklyn. One day as I was dismissing the children, one sweet, shy little girl earnestly lagged behind and came over to me. She took my hand in hers, looked up at me with teary eyes and said, “Renee, don’t you get lonely and scared when you’re here by yourself all night?” It really wasn’t a funny statement but it was so touching.
5. Name a teacher from your past who impressed you and why.                                              I loved school. It was like my private refuge. I can’t really remember any of my lessons although I do remember a wonderful day when I went into the teacher’s kitchen with my first grade teacher and a few other children. We made Jello. It was thrilling, especially going into the room where the teachers ate. Another memory was in junior high school English class. My teacher, Mrs. Oliver, read to us every day. That was so special. She also played a recording of Basil Rathbone reading the works of Edgar Allen Poe. That was completely memorable! Thank you Mrs. Oliver.
6. The one thing on my bucket list that I know I will get to someday is…                            In 1976-1979 I lived in Rome with my husband, Simon and my young daughter. Simone went to a lovely (communist!) Montessori pre-school for two years and then to the local public school. She was becoming a true Romano. Simon had a Rome Prize and he had a marvelous studio at the American Academy. They also provided us with a huge apartment in Monteverde Vecchio. All three of us have marvelous memories of that special time. My bucket list wish is to return to Rome for a vacation with Simon, Simone, my son-in-law Jeremy and my grandson Adrian. Jeremy and Adrian have never been there and I want us to be able to all share in the wonders of this beautiful city together.
7. For exercise, I like to…                                                                                                            This is such a downfall for me. Whenever I join an exercise class or make a plan for myself, some part of my body seems to fall apart. I take a private Pilates class each week and I love working with Spela, my fantastic instructor. I also love city walking. New York is the best place for that. I’ve had some pretty bad sciatica, which has really discouraged me from walking but (knock wood) I seem to be on the repair. I hope that pretty soon I can get on a regular walking regime, both in Brooklyn walking by Prospect Park and also walking around with my husband, visiting galleries and just enjoying the city.
8. Who is your favorite children’s book author?                                                                    Maude Hart Lovelace! I grew up devouring the Betsy-Tacy series. My friend Joyce and I would pretend that we were Betsy and Tacy. Even though we lived in a housing project in Brooklyn, we pretended that we lived in a small town in Minnesota. We would pack food, books, notebooks and pencils and ride our bikes to an empty lot near the train tracks. It was a pretty deserted area but we had no fear. I don’t even know if our mothers realized where we were going! It was our secret spot to read, play and write. Betsy (me) and Tacy (Joyce). When I was teaching kindergarten and first grade I introduced the books to my classes for read aloud time. I’m not sure if the children would have known about the books (it was a series) on their own but when they heard that they were my favorite books when I was a child, they couldn’t wait to hear each chapter. They even played Betsy-Tacy during Choice Time and in the schoolyard at recess! At one point (as an adult!) I joined the Betsy-Tacy Society. Anna Quindlen was the president!
9. If you could visit any other country, which one would it be?                                             I’ve never been to Greece and I would love to go there. I’d also like to explore southern Italy. I’ve only been to places north of Rome. I’d like to, particularly, visit the Amalfi Coast.
10. What is the talent you really wish you had?                                                                           I wish I had some musical talent. It’s frustrating to have a grand piano in my home and to have no idea of how to play it. I was at a New Year’s Day party this year and it was filled with guests who played all different string instruments. There was lots of ‘jamming’. One person would leave the group to have a drink or eat and another would musician would step in to play. It looked like so much fun!
11. If you could invent a holiday, what would it be for?                                                           In Italy August 15th is a day when just about everyone stops what they are doing and goes to the beach or the countryside. I love the idea that they are not to obsessed with work to just stop for rest and enjoyment. My husband said that, to him, it’s like the lemmings going out to sea. To me, though, it’s like a glorious belief in the importance of taking a breath to stop and smell the roses.
Here are the eleven random facts about me:

1. I entered a talent show when I was in 4th grade, sang Seven Lonely Days and “yodeled” like a cowgirl at the end. I didn’t actually hear anyone in the audience laugh!
2. My husband and I met at Brighton Beach Bay 3 in 1964. It was the luckiest day of my life.
3. I love vanilla ice cream. Because I’m lactose intolerant, I can’t eat it anymore (although I sometimes eat some and risk a stomach ache!)
4. I don’t like winter. It’s too cold and snowy. I didn’t even like winter when I was a small child.
5. At the age of 65 my hair became curly! People who know me for many years ask me if I perm it but I don’t. It’s just a strange, natural phenomenon!
6. I love being a grandmother. My grandson calls me Nonna. He recently told me that for years he thought that Nonna was my first name.
7. I like to watch Law and Order on TV. I think it might be because it’s safer than watching the real news.
8. I feel passionate about kindergarten and feel, sadly, that it’s the year that is being misinterpreted lately.
9. I’m so proud of my family. My husband, my daughter and my son-in-law all bring passion and dedication to their work: my husband to his art, my daughter to her music, and my son-in-law to his teaching.
10. I’m putting a lot of hope in Bill DeBlasio, New York’s new Mayor and Carmen Farina, our new chancellor. I hope that the will begin righting many of the wrongs that have been imposed on the public school children and teachers these past twelve years.
11. I went to college at night and worked as a secretary for the Yale Truck Company during the day. This was not a high point of my life!!

I would like to nominate

Leah Mermelstein

Merril ( I don’t know Merril’s last name )

Tomasen Carey

Scott Filkins

Katie Lapham

Bloggers, here are my eleven questions:

1. What book(s) are you presently reading?
2. Who was the must influential person in your life?
3. What inspired you to enter the field of education?
4. Do you have a secret vice that you might be willing to share?
5. What is your ideal vacation?
6. What was your favorite childhood game or activity?
7. Is there a film about childhood that you would recommend to a friend?
8. Who was your best friend when you were a child?
9. Is there a work of art or a piece of music that has left a strong impact on you?
10. What educator has influenced your teaching?
11. What is your ideal vacation?
And now, Leah, Merril, Tomasen, Scott and Katie, what your random facts? I hope you have fun playing around with your Sunshine Award! I look forward to your answers.

Here’s a sunshine song for everyone! Listen! Enjoy! Sing Along!



P.S. I finally have a twitter account! My twitter name is Rd415. Now I need to learn how to use it!

4 thoughts on “You Are My Sunshine

  1. Simon Dinnerstein

    I love the questions and especially the answers. They present the very idealistic, committed, silly, highly idealistic, literate and wonderfully serious woman that I have loved now for almost 50 years. Not bad, in today’s world!

    1. Renee Post author

      That’s a good point. I asked Rebecca if I could copy her letter and post it and she enthusiastically agreed. I wasn’t thinking clearly about the address. I’ll edit the site. Thank you for pointin that out.

  2. merril

    I just saw this now – I feel very honored 🙂 Thank you Renee. I’ve moved from teaching in nyc public schools to teaching overseas at an international school so I had a blogging identity crisis so to speak! I’ve started a new story – on a new blog . But I will carry on the sunshine love…better late than never. Thanks again!


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