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When Shellie Jensen asked her parents to help with her oversized class at Groveland Elementary, she had no idea it would be the healing experience that would ultimately leave a legacy stitched in love for 30 third grade students. Jensen had been teaching for 13 years and had never had a class size as large as the current one. Feeling overwhelmed with the influx of students, Jensen reached out to her parents to volunteer once a week helping students with reading and math. Her parents far exceeded her expectations.
In August of 2007 Shellie and her husband Zane lost a 21-year-old son, Shay, for unforeseen medical reasons. The following year, August 2008, they lost yet another child, 15-year-old Lucie, in a car accident. The gap of sorrow widened with each child. Futures of the two children were left dangling as an unfinished creation. The family struggled to continue on with normalcy.
Jensen's son left behind a hearing-impaired daughter, Allie Kae, who is now 6. Allie lovingly calls her grandparents in sign, Grandma Flower and Grandpa Horse. As Jensen taught sign to her third grade class the nicknames stuck when Sherma and Ray Carlson volunteered each week in Jensen's class.
On Friday a large box adorned in brightly wrapped paper of blue, green and orange sat at the front of the classroom. The children waited patiently reading books quietly at their desks, glancing periodically at the package.
The clock seemed to be ticking backwards by the time Grandma Flower entered the room. Her contagious zeal and enthusiastic demeanor instantaneously lit up the room upon her arrival. The time had come to open the package.
What the package contained far surpassed what the children could even contemplate â€” 30 beautifully crafted quilts. Each has been made with material of three generations of the family. Audible "oohs and ahh's" filled the room as the children excitedly received their blankets.
"Can we get cozy with them?" asked one third grade student
"I can't believe she made one for each of us!" exclaimed another.
Flower was an avid quilter until the time she lost her two grandchildren. Then it became too difficult, a reminder of the loss. Coming to volunteer weekly and getting to know each of the children slowly helped healed the chasm left in her heart.
Flower told the children, " There is a story in each square; take the quilt and create stories about each one. Remember that this is about love and feel the love of three generations."
Each quilt has a poem on it created for the class by Luanne Belnap. "This quilt was made especially for you, from cloths of 3 generations. The scraps from old to new. A Jensen Kind Crusader you have become. Always representing the good to everyone. When wrapped up all warm and tight. Don't forget to do what's right. This gift was made with love in mind, Always remember to be very kind."
When speaking about the quilts, Flower said "each quilt is an individual; they just grew together. There was no design; they just happened... This was a big healing process for me. "
The priceless gift left to these third grade students will be sure to impact the rest of their lives and impact who they become. Jensen and Flower have both embraced what it is to teach children. It is not just about education. It is about love.
Teacher appreciation week is May 7-11. Want to show your appreciation? Submit your story of how a teacher is making an impact on Bingham County to firstname.lastname@example.org