Monday, December 28, 2009

Her Day of Days

Back in 2001, the headmaster of a growing classical Christian school bravely hired me to be a lower school teacher there as they added a second section to each grade. At first, I was to be a third grade teacher. Among other hiring, however, things were shuffled around and it was determined that I would be a fourth grade teacher alongside a master teacher who had been at Trinity School since its inception, Mrs. Rita Davis.

And my world has never been the same.

Rita took me under her wing that first year of teaching and I found a kindred spirit like no other. She mentored and nurtured and advised {when asked} and prayed and laughed and loved. Most importantly, she let me be the teacher God has created me to be. In fact, she encouraged that teacher in me. She let me make my own mistakes, she listened and agreed to my ideas, she challenged me to step up and lead in our grade level endeavors. I can still remember the immense joy and responsibility I felt when she turned over to me the coaching of our classes’ annual recitation of the “I Have a Dream” speech. She believed in me and trusted me. In the nine years that I have had the privilege of knowing Rita, I have always known that feeling around her.

Nature Hike 019 {Nature Hike, 2006}

me and rita don lee{Prepping for our class trip to Camp Don Lee, 2006. This is soooo us- me with a clipboard organizing everyone and Rita’s exuberant joy making it that much more fun. Throw in some kicky flip flops and you have the dynamic duo.}

Jane Austen said, “My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.” And, oh! Is Rita ever good company. Anyone who is privileged enough to spend five minutes in her presence knows that. I have always marveled at her wit, her kindness, her ability to set people at ease with her thoughtful questions that convey an authentic desire to know more about you. She is the person you want to sit next to at a dinner party because the conversation will be funny and encouraging and interesting.

Both Rita and her husband, Dave, excel at being good company and I know this firsthand since they took me in the summer before Jason and I were married. Night after night of delicious dinners {have I mentioned that Rita can cook?}, lazy days filled with conversation ranging from the inane to the sacred, long walks, early morning workouts…and even still, I can go back and know that the back bedroom is waiting for me. My summer family- me, Rita, Dave and their nephew, Greg- became part of my actual family. Because with Rita, there is this ease as she and I flit between the many roles in our relationship: colleagues, mentor/mentee, mother/daughter, sisters {twins separated by twenty years, don’t you know?} and just plain friends.

upw234{Reading Scripture at our wedding, 2006}

This picture captures one of my favorite things that Rita does so well. Glasses perched on nose, book in hand, reading aloud. These days, when I go back to visit Trinity and make the first stop in Rita’s classroom, I always hope that she will be reading aloud so that I can sit and listen. A fellow drama queen when it comes to books, her voice and tone create the world of whatever she is reading right in front of you. It is captivating, to say the least, and her students will vouch for that.

But it’s not just how she reads, it’s what she is reading. At Trinity, one of the first things the fourth graders memorize is Philippians 4:6-8,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Rita taught me that we have them memorize this first because it sets the standard for what they will learn for the rest of the school year, both in the curriculum and out. She has put this into practice in her own life and the wisdom shines through beautifully.

Happy birthday, sweet friend. I love you!


  1. She sounds like such an amazing person! :-) and that's one of my favorite verses . . .

  2. Kim Miers10:49 AM

    Hi Leslie, Remember me from Artists Way group? I love reading your blog. You have a gift of writing. And it sort of keeps me updated on you. Kim Miers

  3. sarah2:06 AM

    That is also one of my favorite verses. Rita sounds like a great person to know.

  4. What a wonderful glimpse into who Rita is. I, too, am deeply grateful to know her. Thanks for writing this, Leslie.


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