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Grandparent Educators, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Release Date: 02/22/2021

The Power of Story, Part 3 show art The Power of Story, Part 3

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Emily wraps up the third episode on "the power of stories" with a chat with an executive from Scholastic, Inc.--the source of all those books sold to grade-school students from newsletters and book fairs. Their conversation took place just before World Read-Aloud Day, which framed their talk about grandparents reading aloud to their grands. THE STRETCH IT TAKES (Emily's Essay): The Genetics of Reading   When I visited the home of my maternal grandparents, I don’t remember seeing a book in any room of the house. It was a stark contrast to our own house with books in each room and a...

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The Power of Story, Part 2 show art The Power of Story, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Continuing the theme from last episode, Emily speaks with a 93-year-old grandfather, author, and active advocate of capturing and then "unleashing" grandparent stories. His creative partner in their website adds helpful details about a program that helps grands become powerful and prolific story-makers. SHOW NOTES Jerry and Deanna's website is grandparentsunleashed.com, and  Jerry's book is The Grandest Love, available .

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The Power of Story, Part 1 show art The Power of Story, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

How well do your grands know your story? Emily travels (virtually) to Trinidad to speak with Felicia Chang, a professional in the area of capturing the personal stories of our families, with a special emphasis our elders. Your story has worth and power...and is of priceless value to your grands. EPISODE NOTES Felicia Chang's TEDx Talk about how the stories of our loved ones connect us all is . Her business has a and a . This is Felicia with her dear grandmother, the subject of her movie and the inspiration of her view on capturing stories.

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The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Continuing last episode's theme, this time Emily talks with a grandparent in the US and a parent in France whose extended relationships span oceans, languages, and cultures. Adventure seasoned with selflessness is the recipe. THE STRETCH IT TAKES (Emily's essay)   “We’re moving to Brussels.” Those words shocked me even though I was twenty-one, living in my own apartment and working on my graduate degree. My parents called from NH to inform me that my dad had taken a job in Belgium. “Where is that?” was my immediate reply. (I was in grad school for English Lit, and obviously...

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The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Back in Season 2, we did an episode on Long-Distance Grandparenting which proved to be a popular subject. When the distances are really long--international--you'd think it would be harder. The pandemic has made distance less of a factor that it once was, so experienced global grandparents can teach lessons almost all of us can apply. EPISODE SHOW NOTES Learn more about Emily's guest, author Helen Ellis, at https://www.distancefamilies.com. Her book will be out in April, 2021. 

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Grandparent Educators, Part 2 show art Grandparent Educators, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Some grandparents have the time, talent, and access to become directly involved with their grands' education. Emily talks with two grandparents and a teacher who have done or seen this firsthand, which may give you ideas on how to approach this in your extended family. SHOW NOTE Learn more about Emily's third guest, Sandra Williams, from her and her book, .  

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Grandparent Educators, Part 1 show art Grandparent Educators, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

Grandparents can play a range of roles in their grands' education. In Part 1 on this topic, Emily talks with a retired teacher whose journey through racial segregation in the 1950s shaped her commitment to supporting the schooling of her descendants. Emily's essay is a revealing self-portrait of a third grader, a pen pal, and a missed opportunity Emily's guest Kaaren Rodman provides details on her family's scholarship: "Our family has set up a scholarship that is awarded through the Indianapolis Urban League. Mike and I did smaller grants for several years in the 90's, one for each set of...

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Grandparent Love, Part 2 show art Grandparent Love, Part 2

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

The centerpiece of this episode is Emily's interview with best-selling author Barbara Graham, who has written about the collected experiences of gifted and famous grandmothers. There are lessons to be learned from her work... and from Emily's essay about loving our grands well with the time we find. Learn more about Emily's guest and her work at .    The Stretch It Takes: Competing With Time (Emily's Essay)   If there’s one thing that this pandemic has taught me, it’s that time looks and feels different to different people, depending on their age and their...

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Grandparent Love, Part 1 show art Grandparent Love, Part 1

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

To begin Season 4, Emily talks with two members of her network on how to put our love for our grands into action--with purpose, and intentionality, and clever ideas.  The payoff is a richer relationship, even when it's largely a long-distance one. To learn more about our two guests visit and .         

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Spotlight on Emily show art Spotlight on Emily

The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting

While we take a break between seasons of The Grand Life Podcast, we're inviting host Emily Morgan to the guest's chair for a change. With husband and producer Mike, she covers choosing content, finding guests, and balancing the living of The Grand Life with her podcasting about it.

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Grandparents can play a range of roles in their grands' education. In Part 1 on this topic, Emily talks with a retired teacher whose journey through racial segregation in the 1950s shaped her commitment to supporting the schooling of her descendants. Emily's essay is a revealing self-portrait of a third grader, a pen pal, and a missed opportunity

Emily's guest Kaaren Rodman provides details on her family's scholarship:

"Our family has set up a scholarship that is awarded through the Indianapolis Urban League. Mike and I did smaller grants for several years in the 90's, one for each set of parents. Two years ago we set up one Scholarship as a way to honor our parents and their commitment to education. This is the "Family Story" that I wrote for the printed program:

"Like all African-American parents of their generation, our parents believed that education was the key to a better life for their children. They knew that getting there would not be easy, so they were clear about the need to study hard and to get good grades. They were tough sometimes, but mostly they were nurturing, supportive and inspiring by example.  They wanted us to love learning and to stay focused on the goal of preparing ourselves for careers and lives that would make a difference for our children and our community. We became a teacher, a banker, a musician and a physician, and they were really, really proud. The Burke, Dabner, Rodman Scholarship Program gives us the opportunity to thank them and to give back in a way that honors them and recognizes all they did for us.

"When the first scholarship was presented two years ago, our grandson made the presentation with his Grandad. It was a proud moment!  Our family shared the luncheon table with the recipient and his mom, and our grandchildren got to see someone else who was working hard to go to college. And, perhaps they realized that their grandparents cared about educational opportunities for others as well as for them. It's another way we can set an example for them."  -Kaaren Rodman

THE STRETCH IT TAKES (Emily's Essay): Learning Out of School

  Education is not limited to just what happens in the classroom. And it definitely is a life-long endeavor. I am reading a book right now that talks about jazz legend John Coltrane, and in the book, I found something interesting that seems related to both my education and my stunning lack of it. 

  The author, Robert Gelinas, is talking about Martin Luther King Jr.’s ultimate goal. He says, “it was grander than securing voting rights and achieving desegregation. He defined his mission as 'genuine intergroup and interpersonal living.' He [Dr. King] believed that the way you change society is by changing the human heart.”

  So while we often turn to books to be educated, we might need to look inside our hearts to see what’s been taught but needs to be “unlearned.” I am going to confess something that has been heavy on my heart since I was a young girl. This story happens when I was in third grade, so that makes it 1967. We were way past Jim Crow laws and even Brown vs. Board of Education. So while schools had been integrated for over 10 years by then,, I don’t remember a single black student at my elementary school in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY. Not one.

  Here’s my story. My teacher told us that we could sign up for a pen pal, and she would arrange that for us. I was very excited about it since I was a budding writer, eager to connect with someone through my craft. I was assigned a pen pal in Washington, D.C., and I was thrilled that I would learn more about our nation’s capital AND get to know a little girl my age at the same time. She and I wrote back and forth several times, and when our school pictures were taken in late fall, we decided to exchange a wallet picture as soon as we got them. I don’t remember my pen pal’s name. I wish I did. What I do remember is the feeling I had when her picture arrived tucked in her latest letter. She was black. Now let me make something clear. I don’t believe I was explicitly taught anything about black people that would’ve made me react the way I did. Although I was a keen observer of dinner table conversation. But I do believe that somehow I had gotten a message that black was bad or scary or just unfamiliar. And for that reason, as an eight-year-old, I threw away the letter and the picture, and I never wrote back. And for that I will always be regretful. 

  I carry that guilt with me to this day...and if I could, I would tell my pen pal that I am sorry for what I did. I remember her picture...her face, her braided pigtails, her smile. She must have been heartbroken that I wouldn’t respond to her letters after that. Or, sadly, she was all too familiar with that reaction once she saw my picture. 

  I have many questions about what was taught to me through that incident. Why did my teacher not ask me about it? Why did my parents not sit down with me and explain that she deserved a letter back? Why was it okay with the adults in my world to just go on as if nothing had happened? I did learn one thing. Silence and passivity are effective teachers. 

  As I grew older, it mattered little that I had read in textbooks all sorts of historical accounts of our sordid history with black people. What would have been the best teacher would have been the adults in my life who would have worked to teach my heart about that history and ongoing prejudice. . Questions like - how do you feel when you look at her picture? And why do you feel that way? Or maybe guidance on what my pen pal might be feeling if I didn’t write back to her. 

    My re-education about black people started late and has been an ongoing journey. I’ve learned a bit through good books, movies and deep discussions. And I realize that I need to listen with an open heart.  To learn their stories. To heed the advice when I say something offensive or naive. To see color as it is, not what I imagine it to be. 

  There is no way to educate myself out of prejudice without a heart change. And I am grateful that the black community is being patient with me, because while my school education took about 22 years  - this change of heart, I’m afraid, is taking a lifetime. And it really didn’t start until way after being the worst penpal ever. As a grandparent, I’m hoping I can help speed things up for my grands, because everyone deserves a letter back when they send you their picture. 

© 2021 Emily Morgan