Editor’s note: Former Longfellow teacher Shirley Reid died on June 21 at the age of 82.

I was privileged to work with Shirley for many years, teaching second grade. She was an amazing woman: kind, outgoing, and enthusiastic. Not only did she believe in, but lived out the values of, inclusiveness, appreciation of all cultures, races, creeds, ages — respecting each individual person. She held high standards of academics and personal behavior for each, and sought to draw out the best in each.

It was Shirley who led the four of us second-grade teachers to pull together into a team. At her prompting, we’d have a little luncheon in late summer to catch up with one another and plan for joint activities in the upcoming year, most notably monthly field trips, a multicultural “Holidays Around the World” theme for December, and an annual Science Fair, in which each child used the scientific method to conduct an original experiment of his/her own choosing. Every year she led a colorful and inclusive Kwanza celebration, based on how she celebrated this event with her own family; it was always a special highlight of our “Holidays Around the World” activities.

Shirley really understood and did her best to teach to the individual learning style of each student; she used a variety of teaching tools to engage the “whole child.” Drama, singing, movement, the spoken word — these engaged students beyond the basic and important reading and math instruction. She did a great job as director of many productions. 

And wouldn’t you know, Shirley took the “break a leg” saying literally: Before one evening show, during which families and neighbors came to school to see their children perform, she did break her leg! The show went on, directed by Shirley in a wheelchair!

Jane Lardner Lambshead

Oak Park

Join the discussion on social media!