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A Retired Teacher's Story: From JFK to President Obama


One blustery fall evening, dressed warmly in a blue woolen coat with a white rabbit muff, my mother took me to Truman Corners in Kansas City, Missouri. I was five-years-old. Hundreds of people lined the streets cheering for a handsome man riding in a car and shaking their hands. I was suddenly lifted high above my mother’s head; this man looked directly at me and shook my hand! Weeks later I awoke to see my mother smiling and crying as she watched the morning news. She told me that man who shook my hand, John F. Kennedy, was now the President of the United States. On that day I became interested in politics!

In 1971, eighteen and full of promise, I graduated from high school. Idealistic and excited to be an adult, I registered to vote! This was the first time in America that an eighteen-year-old could vote! The Supreme Court had ruled if we were old enough to fight and die for our country in Vietnam, we were old enough to decide who the President of the United States would be. I was thrilled to become involved in the Young Democrat’s club on campus!

The generation of Vietnam and JFK inspired me to work with young people and started me on a forty-two year career as an activist and teacher. I taught students with special needs and retired this past June. With time on my hands I was thrilled to become a Fall Fellow with Organizing for America in Arizona! This is my chance to be a part of something bigger than myself, and at an extremely important time for our country and for Arizona! President Obama is a champion for all Americans. He has been beset by tremendous challenges and has faced them with courage, intelligence, vision, and action.

Having spent the past ten years teaching high school English, and remembering how excited I was to be able to register to vote at eighteen, I made it my mission as a Fall Fellow to get these Young Americans registered to vote! I devised a plan one morning at 3am. I went to my former boss and asked him to help me get the seniors in the high school registered. He was on board with the idea and we set the plan in motion! I wanted it to be quick, simple, and effective. We advised the government, economics, and marketing teachers that they would register seniors who met the criteria to vote in a 10 minute session all on one day! It worked beautifully! By the end of the day we had registered more than three hundred Young Americans. Now, I am off to the next high school, and then the next, and so on. What a joy to see the smiles on the faces of these young people as they registered to vote!

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