If I were writing this at the time, it probably would have been more of a diatribe than an insightful look at how someone shaped my life. The year was 1986 and I had just finished up a short stint in Catholic school for pre-school. Kindergarten was quite a culture shock for me as my teacher was what now I would consider to be “progressive”. I was taught that some people spell their name “Jon” and it was just as correct as “John” (my middle name) and that some people pronounce “crayons” as “crowns” and it’s okay (27 years later and I still don’t agree with that one). The most impactful lesson of my first year in public school at North Launderdale Elementary is that if you color outside of the lines your coloring project will be marked as incomplete.

Yes, the same woman that taught me that even when people are different they need to accepted and respected, but if you color outside of the lines you did it wrong. This still resonates with me to this day. My picture of life is far from inside the lines and with my own daughter, we teach her to be creative and think outside of the lines. There’s a time and a place for rules, but when it comes to coloring in a picture, I’d like to think that there’s some wiggle room. The picture you ask? It was a picture of a pig and we were supposed to color it in, which I did. I also drew a mud puddle and put some mud on the pig, because pigs. I wish I still had that picture as it represents one of the strongest lessons that I learned in throughout my school years.

Ms. Altamura, thank you.





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