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Features

A Lesson In Kindness And Old-Time Education

Thank you! It is gratifying to see that so many of us haven’t lost faith in the Elementary Class Project. We haven’t let the current vogue of drilling, testing and punishing in the name of “college and career readiness” overtake our belief that education really is about more than just numbers you can record on a spreadsheet.

In other words, you helped out Kate at the Cascade Christian School in Puyallup, Wash.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the letter Kate sent telling us that her elementary-school class had undertaken the project “Parade of States,” and she had drawn New York. Could we send her items and information relating to the Empire State?

I mentioned that if you sent such items to me, I’d forward them to Kate in Puyallup. And send them you did.

One woman who asked to remain anonymous was especially generous, with a large envelope of what she called “artifacts” and a long letter explaining the significance of each. As she points out, “N.Y. is economically and also physically, ethnically and religiously a very diverse state.”

Some of the items:

• A Playbill from the December 2011 performance of The Nutcracker. (“I treated my daughter and two grandchildren to this performance at a cost of $125 a ticket....The same dance company stages ballets in the summer just four hours north of New York City in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. for about $35 a ticket.”)

• An MMA badge from the Museum of Modern Art (“There is no charge for visiting this wonderful museum — only a suggested small donation”).

“I wanted to send you something from the Twin Towers … But I can’t give anything from that time up yet. New Yorkers are survivors, but the pain of 9/11 and the loss is still raw,” she wrote.

It should come as no surprise that this woman taught in local public schools for 40 years. Clearly, she isn’t just being nice, but also understands the educational value of such things.

Same for Richard Siegelman, another retired teacher who sent all sorts of interesting items, including postcards of Sagamore Hill and Theodore Roosevelt’s grave in Oyster Bay, as well a deck of cards with facts about all of our states (New York’s state bird is, of course, the bluebird. But who knew that Utah’s is the seagull?).

And so many others — Lillian Bryson, Lois Levey and the Cautela family, to name a few — made sure that Kate got everything from a Levittown T-shirt (“Modern America Suburbia”) to New York State’s Official Apple Muffin Recipe, which was developed by elementary school children in North Syracuse.

Topping

• 1/2 cup walnuts

• 1/2 cup brown sugar

• 1/4 cup flour

• 1 teaspoon cinnamon

• 1 teaspoon lemon peel

• 2 tablespoons melted butter

Muffins

• 2 cups apples, coarsely chopped

• 2 cups flour

• 3/4 cup brown sugar

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 2 teaspoons baking soda

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

• 1/2 teaspoon cloves

• 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

• 1/2 cup raisins

• 1/2 cup walnuts

• 3 eggs, slightly beaten

• 1/2 cup butter, melted

• 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces

• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation

Prepare topping by combining ingredients. Set aside.

Prepare muffins

Combine flour, sugar, salt, spices, and baking soda, and set aside.

Combine apples, raisins, walnuts, eggs, butter, cream cheese, and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients, a little at a time, to the apple mixture. Stir until just combined. Do not over-mix.

Portion the batter into muffin pan.

Sprinkle with topping.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Makes two dozen muffins.

Isn’t it about time the “school reformers” (Hello, Regents and Education Commissioner King) learned that many valuable lessons can’t be measured on a spreadsheet?

John Owens is editor in chief of Anton Community Newspapers. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it