South Tahoe Middle School students learn gratitude
South Tahoe Middle School teacher Holly Greenough is helping her students learn the value of appreciation.
Each year, Greenough holds a Thanksgiving feast in her classroom. In between bites of pumpkin pie and candied yams, she does her best to teach her class that there is more to Thanksgiving than just good food.
“My main goal in this lesson is to teach them to be thankful, to honor each other and their gifts in life,” she said. “I want to make sure they leave here knowing how to be thankful and how to tell people they appreciate things.”
In the grand tradition of scholastic-related festivities, Greenough squeezed a lesson plan into the holiday fun.
As part of a workability project, students learned about comparing prices, establishing a budget and finding the best bargains.
“The kids did everything for the feast,” Greenough said. “They did the shopping, the decorations, food preparation. They even did all of the cooking. And we have such diversity in the classroom, so several students brought dishes from home that are special in their family.”
Greenough said she has a celebration in the classroom each year because many of her students have not experienced a Thanksgiving feast.
n Remembering an old friend
Last year, Greenough’s students said they were most thankful for Grandpa Fred.
Fred Immoor began volunteering in Greenough’s classroom three years ago, after taking a sign language class from her at Lake Tahoe Community College. Severely hearing impaired, Immoor spoke clearly, but read lips and sign language to understand others. He was dedicated to helping the children improve their reading skills, while offering unlimited advice about school and life. Some of the kids thought of Immoor as their hero. Others said he was the grandpa they never had. Greenough referred to him as her right and left hand.
Immoor passed away in August after a short battle with a cancerous brain tumor. He was 74 years old.
His dying wish was for each of the kids he worked with to think of things they would change in his honor.
“What was really the most powerful experience I had in my life was taking the group of kids he was closest with down to the hospital,” Greenough said in an August interview with Tahoe Daily Tribune City Editor Christina Proctor. “He was very ill and sleeping most of the time, but as each kid came to his bedside he called them by name – we’re talking 13 kids – and said something very special to each of them. Every one of them hugged him and told him very specifically what they would do in his honor.”
At Wednesday’s feast, Greenough presented Immoor’s daughter Colleen Hosman, with a dedication book, filled with pictures of Grandpa Fred and students. Students also wrote letters explaining what they plan to change in Immoor’s honor. The promises were placed on pages of the book above each child’s picture.
“Grandpa Fred will be greatly missed,” Hosman said of her father. “He had talent to warm hearts with his smile, his hugs and his genuine concern for those he loved. It was his gift he shared. Hopefully in time it will inspire all of us to discover our talent and then share our gift with others. Grandpa Fred would have wanted it this way.”
Hosman said she deeply appreciates the efforts made by Greenough and her students to make Immoor feel so special in his last years.
“We will treasure the book they made for us,” she said.
n Being thankful
Students said they had a fun time preparing the Thanksgiving meal and learned a lot about teamwork.
“We helped each other out with the food and did this as a family, as a class,” said Adrian Geary, 13. “I’m thankful for my grandmother and my new baby brother Zay Zay.”
Yvette Lomeli, 13, said helping prepare the meal gave her a sense of pride.
“I made the gravy and I made some pie,” she said. “I think I like the pie the best. That was my favorite.”
Lomeli explained why Thanksgiving is important to her.
“Because everybody gets together and talks about why they are thankful,” she said. “They stop and appreciate things. I’m thankful for my family.”
Even School Resource Officer Jeff Reagan took a break from campus security duties to enjoy Greenough’s feast. In fact, he earned his place at the table, as the turkey carver.
“I carved two of the turkeys in the cafeteria,” he said. “This was good food. My favorite thing was the turkey.”
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