When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens

One mother’s journey with teaching, music and the care of her son.

Connie & her son JacksonI met Connie Gillies of Constant Wonder this summer when she and Alice Weiser performed at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA, and we became instant friends. (Click here to read the review) As we’ve gotten to know one another I’ve discovered that not only is Connie a musician, but she is also a kindergarten teacher, starting a new position as a teacher for a Kindergarten Enrichment Program in Northport, NY. We’ve discussed sharing her adventures and projects with her new class here on Hilltown Families and we’re both very excited about the possibilities. Since classes began last fall, Connie’s sent me music they’ve composed, and images of art work and projects. But before we start to share her inspiring projects, I’ve asked Connie to give us an introduction to herself. As I’ve gotten to know Connie she’s also shared with me her struggles and journey as a mother of a young son with Juvenile Diabetes. To follow is her story of that journey. It’s a mother’s journey. An artists journey. An teachers journey. A journey that passes through doors of experience and possibility. Meet my friend Connie…


She’s Back! An Introduction to Me
by HF Contributing Writer, Connie Gillies of Constant Wonder

Frederick the Mouse (c) Connie GilliesNothing to me is as heartwarming as young children singing a song that I have written. It is the highest compliment and I thoroughly enjoy it when they add their own personality to the song. (Click here to listen to them sing The Frederick Song.) As I looked into each of the faces of my new Kindergarten Enrichment students, I was captivated for a moment. Scanning the group from right to left, appreciating each of their pantomimed movements. They were singing one of my favorite yet less elaborate compositions, swinging their little arms in an upward motion in order to outline large imaginary mouse ears. The song they were singing is a short little tune, yet conveys a very important message about our classroom pet, a sweet little field mouse. His name is Frederick, named after the main character in Leo Lionni’s book, Frederick, and he is a poet with the magical ability to leave the children a new poem in his pocket each day.

As the song ends and the children curl their imaginary paws and poise with a enthusiastic “squeak, squeak,” I stand before them as their new teacher in my new classroom (decorated with the utmost of care!) and for a moment I feel like Diane Keaton in Baby Boom. Unlike Ms. Keaton catching herself in a corporate office bathroom mirror and verbally confirming to her reflection “She’s back!” I was making my confirmation by diving into the faces and souls of twelve adorable kindergartners. I was back! I was a classroom teacher again! Read the rest of this entry »

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