A Special Lady

In 1940 my parents lived in central London. They decided to move to an outlying area to avoid German bombs. My school was a fifty minute walk from my house there, and no one in those days felt that children were entitled to transportation. I did not mind the walk at all, but my mother worried that I had to cross so many streets, and so she decided with hesitation to enroll me in the Catholic parochial school which was nearby. We went to see the Principal, Miss Lloyd, who was in her late fifties, and wore modest long dresses. My mother asked if they would accept a Jewish child, while respecting our religious beliefs. Miss Lloyd replied very graciously that they would be glad to accept me, and would not force any doctrine upon me, or require me to take religious instruction. She honored this to the letter. Miss Lloyd had the habit of encouraging bright children by personally giving them additional tuition, and having them do extra work. She made it seem like a great privilege, not a chore. She invited me to join these "homework children," and I did. Although my handwriting was terrible, she never criticized it, as long as the content was good. She read my work, praised it and smiled, and I have no doubt that she had a profound effect on my academic development. Miss Lloyd would always get very excited when a priest was coming to visit the school, and this gave me a lasting respect for priests, since I felt that they must be good people if this selfless lady thought so highly of them.

Years later, a Catholic priest came to me in Milwaukee, and asked if he could do individual study with me, and I agreed to teach him some chapters from the book of Jeremiah in Hebrew. I do not think I mentioned this to him, but it often occurred to me that Miss Lloyd would have been ecstatic at the thought that her little student was instructing a priest in Scripture. And if she made it to the Heaven she believed in so fervently, then surely she was looking down on us both with her approving smile.

I drew this conclusion from my experience. If you encourage students, and tell them they are able and gifted, they may believe you and prosper. And time you spend on them will not be wasted, because long after you are rejoined to the dust, you will live on in their hearts, whatever differences in race or religion there may be.

Alan D. Corré