What I’ve Learned So Far

Hi everyone,

In 1993, I did a book sponsored by the Springfield Public Schools Foundation that featured responses from students and teachers of Springfield Public Schools to the prompt: What I’ve learned so far…

Springfield’s public school district is the largest in the state of Missouri and currently includes more than 25,000 students. In 1993, the total was 24,000. I helped start the Foundation so at a meeting I pitched the book idea as a way to help promote the work of the Foundation while at the same time encouraging SPS students to think and write. With board approval and the $10,000 backing to do the book, I went to the Superintendent with the project, he approved wholeheartedly. With his blessing I met with the Associate Superintendents for primary and secondary schools plus some key players. The book idea was endorsed and I was given the green light to go forward.

I’m skipping a lot of details and tons of meetings, but in the end half of the district’s students responded to my prompt. I asked for and got a committee of fifteen teachers who acted as my editorial board. With their wonderful support, we divided the 12,000 submissions into groups and selected our top picks. I was eventually able to publish 1,100 quotes in the book, which was printed locally and ran 160 pages.

We held signing parties when the book came out. Young authors sat at tables around the room and proudly inscribed the page on which their work appeared. By all measurements the book was a great success. A few years later I did a similar book to raise money for CASA when I was serving on that board. For some reason this morning I was thinking about the original WHAT I’VE LEARNED SO FAR and decided to share some of my favorite quotes from nearly 28 years ago.

From What I’ve Learned So Far . . .
Edited by David L. Harrison
Springfield Public Schools Foundation
What I’ve learned so far is . . .

(Age 4) Not to wipe slobber on my daddy’s shirt.
(Age 5) You can eat a chicken if you kill it.
(Age 6) Cats only have six lives.
(Age 7) Think before you glue.
(Age 8) Boys are worse than I thought.
(Age 9) You can’t keep a boy and girl hamster together.
(Age 10) I can go with eight girls at a time without any of them knowing it.
(Age 11) I like money and I don’t have it.
(Age 12) It’s not hard to kick three boys at once.
(Age 13) If you’re making a C in art, life goes on.
(Age 14) No matter how hard you pray, God won’t clean your room for you.

Interviews and auctions

Hi everyone,

The webinar last week with Laura Backes of Kitlit Distancing Social is now available in their archives. If you know someone who might like to watch it, please pass this link along. To those who saw the original or replay and decided to follow my blog, I thank you again and hope you will enjoy what you find here.

Kidlit Distancing Social #21 Replay – An Evening with Legendary Children’s Poet David Harrison

Also, today is the silent auction where I’m up for bids. https://www.charityauctionstoday.com/auctions/Virtual-Celebrate-SPS-13647/items/meettheauthordavidharrison4personalizedcopiesofhischildrensbooks-245342?category_id=0

Want to buy me? I’m up for auction.

Hi everyone,

To help raise funds for the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools, I’m to be auctioned off as shown in this link.

I did this once before and brought $1,500 when two groups competed for me. I don’t know if I can hope for that to happen again, but all we can do is try. If you want to make a bid or pass this information on to others who might, I’ll appreciate it. Thank you!

Showing my respect

Hi everyone,

Last night was supposed to be the occasion of the annual Teacher Appreciation Banquet in Springfield hosted by the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools, an annual event that regularly draws more than 800 people. Of course it didn’t happen, but from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. I attended a Zoom meeting hosted by Natalie Murdock, executive director of the Foundation, “for a few of our friends, who serve on our committee now, have served in the past, our current board, a few of our past leaders.” I dressed for the meeting the same way I would have to attend the real banquet: dress shoes, slacks, colored shirt, jacket, and the special tie I’ve worn to every banquet for the last twenty+ years.

This is the first time I’ve gotten dressed up since the pandemic began but I consider the Teacher Appreciation Banquet an important event and though it was a virtual meeting it still felt like an occasion to show my respect to the teachers who would have been honored last evening if the real thing could have happened.

The banquet is now reset for August 31 so I’ll wear the tie again, twice in one year, and join the large hall filled with people who come to honor the men and women who educate and help raise our community’s children.

First organizational meeting for Springfield Public School Foundation

Hi everyone,

I promise to stop talking about treasures that keep turning up in the basement, but I do want to mention this last one. It isn’t about writing. It’s about when a small group of us started the Springfield Public School Foundation (later changed to Foundation for Springfield Public Schools) in 1990. In a folder I found the memorandum from Tom Field addressed to Larry Dixon, David Harrison, and Jackie McKinsey suggesting we pick a date for our organizational meeting. What we had the privilege of starting has grown over these past 29 years as described on the Foundation website:

“Since its beginning in 1990, the Foundation has worked with our generous donors and volunteers, the community, district administrators and teachers to put dollars exactly where they are needed – in classrooms to fund new technology, innovative learning projects, scholarships for graduating seniors, and many more, powerful tools for education.

What began with a handful of volunteers, putting together a Foundation that would take donations and manage funds to benefit the schools, has grown to become a Foundation that manages over $5 million and more than 150 funds and scholarships.

To date, the Foundation has given more than $17 million to the Springfield Public Schools and its students to accomplish the Foundation’s mission to raise, manage and distribute private investment to benefit the students of Springfield Public Schools.

The vision of the Foundation is to promote educational excellence for every child by working with the public school system and the community.

Among the Foundation’s landmark achievements are the Telethon for Technology, the annual Teacher Appreciation Banquet, annual Back to School grants program and Pick-a-Project – an online, fundraising site for teacher-submitted, classroom projects.

In 2016, the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools ranked number seven out of 188 of the top education foundations in “Stepping Up: The Nation’s Top K-12 Education Foundations 2016.”

I stood in the basement for some time, holding the folder in my hands and reading again after all these years our original documents of intent as we organized for the future. I felt taller when I came back up the stairs.