7 years later, Steve Elliott receives blanket former student promised

Special to the Banner
Posted 6/18/17

Many are the reasons a person becomes a teacher. Among them is the joy of seeing your former students years later, and rejoicing when they tell you that you have made a difference in their lives. …

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7 years later, Steve Elliott receives blanket former student promised

STEVE ELLIOTT STANDS with the blanket he received in the mail from former student Kara Jo Brigham.

Elliott Blanket:
STEVE ELLIOTT STANDS with the blanket he received in the mail from former student Kara Jo Brigham. Elliott Blanket:
Contributed photo
Posted

Many are the reasons a person becomes a teacher. Among them is the joy of seeing your former students years later, and rejoicing when they tell you that you have made a difference in their lives.

Of course a teacher only sees a small percentage of those students again, even in a smaller city like Cleveland. Many have moved away and, most times, the chance encounter is not made.

It was Thursday, March 2, when the doorbell rang at Stephen Elliott’s home. He and his wife, Joan, were surprised that the mail carrier was delivering a package. Sure enough it was addressed to Stephen, but the return address was not familiar.

“Did you order something?” Joan asked.

Steve replied that perhaps he had ordered something from eBay and it was just now getting to the home.

When they opened the package, they both understood. Inside was a beautiful gold and brown afghan, and it was obvious that it had been knitted with care by hand.

Their minds went back to 2008, the year Steve had retired from Cleveland High School, where he had been a chemistry teacher. In his honors chemistry class was a very bright student who had told him that she was moving to Idaho and she loved to knit. She said if he would go choose the yarn she would knit an afghan for him. Steve and Joan went to the Hobby Lobby and purchased the number of skeins of yarn that the student had said would be required for the afghan.

After retirement, Steve and Joan mentioned once or twice in the year after retirement that the student had probably moved, gone off to college and that would be the end to the matter.

But it was not.

Enclosed with the afghan was a handwritten letter from the former student and a picture of her. Following is that letter, which explains so much.

“Dear Mr. Elliott,

This is a blanket I promised to make many years ago. This is Kara Brigham, a student from the past. I volunteered a blanket, not realizing I’d probably do other things than crocheting my freshman year of college. Now I’m 25 and have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the science of nursing, because I had such great science teachers (smiley face).

But 7+ years gone by, I had a knee surgery that made me forcefully dependent on my couch for too long. But I made you this!

I’m living in Idaho, where I was from prior to Cleveland. I got my BSN, RN and worked as an RN for several years at the hospital (summer of 2016). I quit that job and headed north to Alaska, where I worked on a charter fishing boat in Sitka, AK, for 4 months. I’m really enjoying catching fish and being on the river every day in Idaho catching steelhead, an ocean-run rainbow trout. It was a tough career move (another smiley face).

I contacted your son to get your address. This can be a late birthday gift.

Hope you had a great birthday! My knee is about healed up now. No more crutches, so I’m glad I finally finished the afghan. I hope you like it. I enjoyed making it, and it turned out better than I expected after taking some time off crocheting.

I hope this letter and blanket find you well.

Sincerely,

Kara Jo Brigham”

The picture that she enclosed was of her holding a large fish she had caught.

Steve said he remembers when he was at Cleveland Middle and Cleveland High working on SACS. One of the most difficult things in the process was coming up with a school mission. Sometimes teachers want to be so exact, the process takes a lot of time.

The Cleveland High School mission reads as follows:

“Our mission is to educate and equip students with the academic, social, and emotional skills necessary to be successful and productive.”

Maybe that also means that educators should instill in students the desire to follow their dreams, regardless of whether they employ ordinary usage to the education they receive.

This story was submitted by Jeff Elliott, son of Steve Elliott and director of curriculum and instruction for Cleveland City Schools.

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