FUN for First Graders: Mrs. Rhodes Darlings

I would like to introduce your to an old, old, old, friend of mine, Catherine.Well…maybe not that old, but I have known her a very long time. We are not always in touch, but we have never lost touch and recently reconnected on Facebook.

Catherine was born to be a teacher. Even way, way, way back. Well, maybe not that far back…but when we were dumb little kids together, Catherine wanted to be a teacher. Her mother was a teacher for 37 years and those genes traveled all the way back to her great-grandmother. Catherine played school in the garage and her younger brother was her star student—her one and only student, actually. In fact, he may have helped Catherine develop her legendary patience. Bless his heart.

After teaching in a private Christian school for a number of years, Catherine felt a calling to teach less advantaged children. (Have you ever noticed you are seldom called to be a millionaire or rich and famous? Why is that? What does the “calling angel” have against rich people? What doesn’t the calling to do the right thing include being rich, famous, and have a live-in butler named James?) Sorry…I digress. Catherine’s calling was to teach at the Alex Green Elementary School in Whites Creek, Tennessee.

Whites Creek is north of Nashville, and the school has a predominately African-American student body. The school day is long and arduous for the teachers that are asked to help keep the children safe and well cared for long after a usual school day would end. Home environments are often unable to offer a nurturing environment or proper supervision.

Catherine loves her first-grade class and calls them her “darlings.” When she first called them “darling,” they were unsure of what she meant, and when she explained it meant she loves them and knows that each one of them is very special, their little eyes lit up like the stars she hopes she can help them become by nurturing them and instilling in them the confidence they will need to face the challenges they wake up to each day.

I love a good story, and Catherine often shares stories about her darlings and their school day together on Facebook. What I love best about the stories is that they show children with lives that are more challenging than any 6-year-old should ever have to face; they also show children that are open to love and compassion however it flows into their young lives…a hug, a new pencil, and a squeal of delight when juice and chips are served.

Let me share one of my favorite darling stories. It seems Catherine and her darlings were all huddled in the hallway in tornado posture. They were up against the wall, hands covering up their heads, bottoms up in the air. It wasn’t a drill—it was the real thing.

Joseph: Mrs. Rhodes, we’re missing snack, you know.

Catherine: Yes, I know, Joseph. But this is a real tornado, so we don’t need to be thinking about food right now.

Joseph: Mrs. Rhodes, are you nervous like?

Catherine: No, I am A-okay. You are going to be fine too.

Joseph: I would be finer if I could just get my chocolate cupcake…

But of course!! We are all finer with our chocolate cupcake, aren’t we?

Through Catherine’s stories I have learned to love these first-grade darlings in Whites Creek, Tennessee, so I asked Catherine if I could send them a treat. They qualify for all kinds of social services, but I’m all about FUN! Candy, pencils, chips, and chocolate cupcakes. Catherine said, “Why sure, you can send a treat” and then she probably said, “That would just be so precious.”

And then I had an IDEA…

Odd will adopt the darlings and provide the one thing all first graders need and can never get enough of…FUN! I will send our first FUN box this week. I have already contacted some friends in the FUN business that agreed to help because they loved their first-grade teacher and most of them even could remember her name.

Of course, you want to know how you can have fun with us…don’t you??

The darlings love letters. Send them a letter or postcard and tell them about yourself. Every time a letter is sent to the darlings, I will add a treat to their FUN box. Just send up a smoke signal (or leave a comment on Odd—if it is easier) and the treat will be added to the box. The mailing address is at the bottom of this post.

Leave a comment on Odd about anything at all, and I will add a treat to the darlings’ box. This applies to all Odd posts. Odd Loves Company! You knew this was really all about me, didn’t you? Well, maybe a little bit…comments are FUN.

The more the merrier! Share this post with the butcher, baker, candlestick maker, Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook.

If you would like to send a treat directly to the darlings…that would be just precious.

And last but maybe most important of all to Catherine, please include the darlings in your prayers and intentions.

From time to time I will post darling stories. Maybe Catherine will let me post some of their Martin Luther King drawings…she really helped them capture his spirit, even if she insisted on absolutely no gold chains or earrings. I felt this thwarted their creativity…my visits to the classroom have been limited to virtual ones.

Perhaps there is a reason my friend from a long, long, long time ago finally decided to join Facebook after a great deal of resistance and share her darling stories…. Maybe the reason was you and me.

The Alex Green Elementary School motto is, “We can make a difference. . .We Believe.” I just clapped my hands twice….I believe we can too!



Catherine Rhodes/First Grade
Alex Green Elementary School
3921 Lloyd Road
Whites Creek, Tn. 37189


Update From Catherine:

As many of you know, my friend, Katybeth wrote on her blog about my darlings and how we are facing challenges together…..well….we have received BLESSINGS in the way of boxes full of goodies and letters that mean the world to me and the darlings. Let me just say… heart is swelling with appreciation. Readers of Katybeth’s blog….thank you! Tomorrow is Friday and thanks to you’all, they are going home with a little weekend goodie bag…..Blessings to ALL……


23 thoughts on “FUN for First Graders: Mrs. Rhodes Darlings

  1. Let me be the first to add a little fun to the darlings box and to Thank Catherine for bringing love and learning to her classroom children. She will most certainly be in my prayers.

  2. What a great idea! Joseph is a kid after my own heart. A cupcake should never be taken lightly or left behind. Add my comment to your box and I will try to send a postcard from Boston with a quick note written on it…if Catherine promises not to grade me on penmanship. Mrs Gold ( my first grade teacher) woud be so disappointed in my handwriting but I still READ!
    Thank you Catherine for giving these children an abundance of hope.

  3. To say I am speechless, is an understatement. First of all, I LOVE you Katybeth, . You truly have a gift of writing and I am honored that you have written from your heart about my darlings. I love that something like facebook can bring people back together. I want to say to everyone who may respond, your thoughts and prayers are appreciated more than you will know. MANY people have stress in their jobs, I do not claim to have it the worse, I just know that teaching is an all consuming profession. When people truly appreciate your efforts, it makes our jobs so much better. I look forward to seeing what this incredible gesture is going to do for my darlings. We have 11 weeks of school left before they leave me for the summer. BLESSINGS to ALL of you……..The First graade Teacher

  4. I know first hand how much of a difference a sweet-smelling, pretty, soft-spoken teacher can make to the lives of the children she teachers. I’m a project child. My mother was 16 when she had me and I saw things no child should ever see but I had teachers and adults in my life that helped me see it could be different and showed me what I could become if I learned to speak well, write well, and read well. I believed and I went to a college and medical school on almost a full scholarship. I have been a pediatrician at Chicago Children’s hospital for the last 15 years.
    I love this post because it is so hopeful, and it does not focus on what others can do but what we can do.
    Catherine, thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you do and who you are….those little darlings are very lucky. Katybeth this is the first time I have visited your Odd blog and after spending an hour clicking through I can only say I am so glad you left the light on for me.

    Love and prayers,

  5. What a great read for a Sunday–helps put my upcoming week in perspective. Thanks for offering ways we can help-I can not always open my checkbook but I can certainly always send up a prayer or write a letter or leave a comment to support your efforts.

    Thank you Catherine for sharing your story on behalf of all teachers and thank you Katybeth for sharing it on odd.

  6. I would be happy to send a letter. It would be nice to think someone thought my life was fascinating!
    Kudos to Catherine! and all teachers who go the extra distance for their students!

  7. I’m sure there are other teachers out there that go that extra mile for their darlings and I salute you all. What a mess this country would be without you to help these kids get started on the right paths in life. My first grade teacher was Mrs. Muroski and she was a little thing with white hair and as sweet as could be. I just loved her gentle ways. Will never forget her. You can add my comment too, Katybeth.

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  9. Ok, Catherine, letter is coming your way. You have brightened my day – this being a day when I have been uncharacteriscally crabby, so for that I thank you. KB add to the fun box!

  10. Love this blog entry and Catherine’s facebook updates about her “darlings”. Some of them make me literally LOL ~ like the kid’s comment about his cupcake during the tornado scare. I can totally relate… everything in life is better with a cupcake, especially a tornado! In fact, any life threatening situation should be faced with as many cupcakes as you can shove in your mouth….why not if you might die anyway? 😀

  11. Somehow I missed this the first time! When I got married, my mom, who was a second grade teacher, had her kids write “advice” for me and my future husband. They were hilarious to read. Later, she did it again before Lily was born. So FUN!

    • What fun. Why not share a few! On facebook or in an Odd post! What a clever, creative teacher your mom is–maybe she would like to write a letter to the darlings! I am sure a treat from Mrs. Rachel would be a real treat!

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