Sammy, Dr. Cat Help Teach Important Lesson


Kenneth L. Ender, Ph.D. President

Sammy, Dr. Cat and an important lesson in life

Earlier this month, I re-learned an important lesson. Life’s richest moments often cost little or nothing - we just have to be fortunate enough to be present when they occur.

Sue Fenili teaches third grade at Silver Run School in Millville. Ms. Fenili has been helping her students learn the foundation of a good life, and among the things she stresses are responsibility, working hard and finishing projects on time. She’s an ardent supporter of the School Counts! program, and invited me to speak with her students about it.

It’s never too early to prepare for the future. Through School Counts!, high school students can earn certificates indicating that they are work force ready. And students who earn four School Counts! certificates will also be eligible for a scholarship to attend Cumberland County College.

When I visited the class about a week ago, I was a little nervous about my presentation because I knew that to be effective, I needed to connect with the kids in a real and personal way. We needed to have a conversation, rather than me just sharing School Counts! materials with them. I was still wasn’t sure how to get started when I walked into the classroom.

And then a light bulb went off. Third-graders: eight-, nine- and 10-year-old children. What do they mostly have in common? Pets. Dogs, cats and other assorted critters. Thank goodness for our dog, Sammy, and our cat, Dr. Cat.

As we warmed up to each another, the kids and I discussed the responsibility that comes with owning a pet. We shared our pets’ names, stories about them, and what we must do to assure that our pets live long and healthy lives. We had a terrific discussion, very animated and rich with meaning and learning.

I left the class feeling more alive. Those kids and their pets reminded me that life’s best times are often the simplest, and cost little or nothing. Visiting with those third-graders was one of the finest moments I’ve had in Cumberland County.

I re-learned the meaning of the expression, “from the mouths of babes.” These students taught me again why I’m in the business. These students – and students in all grades throughout the county - are why I am so passionate about the School Counts! program. These students are why I’m so proud of Cumberland County College, and all those working to make the School Counts! program successful.

What a great way to begin 2003.

Thanks, kids.