A quilt hung in my office when I was a principal. It has special meaning for me. I looked to it more frequently than I ever imagined as a reminder of where my focus needed to be for whatever decision I was about to make. How that quilt came to be, is part of my journey.
I was at university getting my Administrative Credential and was required to complete a project representing my vision of education. It could be narrative in the form of a thesis paper, or an artistic portrayal. I gave it a lot of thought and finally came to the conclusion that as a thesis paper it would most likely sit on a shelf and never get looked at again. However, a visual representation could be displayed wherever I worked, and would serve as a constant reminder of what was most important to me about educating students.
So I chose to create a visual project. What medium would I choose? What would it look like? After much thought I decided to use fabric since my grandmother had taught me how to sew, and it would be a tribute to her to have my vision of education created out of a medium we both loved and shared together.
Off I went to the local fabric store for inspiration. While searching through the many bolts of fabric, I found the perfect one to use as the base for the project; a colorful, multi-cultural collage of children. Of course, that was ideal. Students are the center of education. I decided to create an appliqué wall hanging using that fabric as the trunk of a tree, symbolizing the students we are entrusted with teaching. Then, I would create roots in the ground to represent everything essential to educate them, and add leaves on the trunk branches representing all the learning we hoped they would achieve. I purchased the necessary fabric and began work on the project that afternoon.
The quilt hung on the office wall of every job I held in education, and currently hangs in my home. It is still a reminder to me of what Franklin Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”