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Phil’s Story

He was 18 months old. With a big smile, his small hand gripped mine as we walked into The Gordon School Early Childhood Center for this first day of school. His backpack was bigger than his back. He was wearing a favorite superhero t-shirt and holding his favorite toy truck. That morning his Mom and I walked our little boy into the school that would shape him from a baby to a boy to a young man. That was September 2006.

Phil Reizenstein The Gordon school Story

In June 2016 I walked into the Gordon School on wobbly legs. This was Mikey’s last day. Every teacher knew him. Every student, too. Every room held a memory. Where he cried. Where he laughed. Where he learned about the world, his g-d and himself. It was where he learned to share and to do mitzvah. Rooms where he learned to read and sing in Hebrew. The lunchroom where he had a kosher lunch every day.  

About ten of his classmates had been together since pre-school. This was a special groups of kids. They were Mrs. Jacobs’ last kindergarten class after 30 years of teaching. They had welcomed children with autism into their group and their group became stronger and more diverse.  On the last day that they would ever be students at The Gordon School, they hugged each other and cried and laughed and promised to text and call and keep in touch. There was a magic in that group. The magic not only of childhood, but when childhood is shaped right. When it all comes together.

The right children. The right teachers. The right school.

Mikey and I go back a lot to The Gordon School to pick up his younger brother, and we watch and laugh at the 2 year old toddlers as they wander by us wide-eyed, heads swiveling back and forth. Phil Reizenstein The Gordon School StoriesEvery step a new experience. Just like he was ten years ago. Backpacks bigger than they are. Clutching toys. Smiles on faces. Super-heroes on their T-shirts.  And I say to him: “This school made part of who you are. The successful middle schooler. Football player. Popular.  Grade A student. Some day soon it will be your time to give back. To make sure this school is here ten years from now. And fifty years from now. And even a hundred years from now. This will be your obligation and opportunity to give back and say ‘thank-you’.”  And when I say this (and I say it often), Mikey smiles at me. And I know he will take his responsibility seriously. Because the tree grew from a seed planted in a special garden by special teachers at a special school.

-Phil Reizenstein

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