At the end of this past school year, my daughter was graduating, and things were in a whirl, and I was unable to pay tribute to one of the most amazing teachers I’ve ever met during my tenure as both a parent and teacher in DJUSD elementary schools. I had planned to speak at her retirement gala, and my daughter’s needs got in the way, so I’ve decided to share my sentiments with the public.
When Lindsay was in kindergarten, she was blessed to have Renee Andrews, one of the three founding veterans of the Spanish Immersion program in Davis. Kinder is a funky grade for parents — kind of wanting to let go, but not knowing how much. Renee had such a firm grip on her classroom that she knew exactly what she needed and what she didn’t. More importantly, she knew exactly what each child needed.
I volunteered to help stage a little musical in Spanish that year, and we ended the school year with it. It became a precursor of what was to come for us in future years. As I began to do more and more musical work in the schools, I started working with her on a yearly basis, and we collaborated on some of my favorite musical productions in the elementary schools. Amazing things those children could do under her tutelage. We even co-wrote a full musical play in Spanish that was amazing.
As I continued to work with Renee and got to know her better, I realized that with regard to her students, she was always observing, always encouraging, always expanding their experiences and abilities. In later years, I would tell kinder parents how really fortunate they were to have her as a teacher — I believed it completely.
I don’t think some of us really give enough thought to the beginning of our children’s formal schooling. It can make or break how a child feels about school. In my experience, children came away from her classes knowing everything they could do. We’re losing one of the most amazing teachers we’ve ever had in Davis, and that is sad. I’m losing one of my favorite collaborators, and I can only hope we’ll someday be in that situation again. I’m so proud to have known you and worked with you, Renee, and I/we will all miss you so much!