Wall-to-wall books

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We parked in C-Lot, usually. Sometimes illegally, on the treacherously steep driveway leading to the side entry of the Faculty of Education. Through the door and down the dimly lit hallway, which I still hold in awe, like the confines of a hallowed cathedral.

Past doors, some closed, some open, voices drifting out in greeting: “Good morning, Meguido! Is that Marah with you? How TALL she is!”

Past the collection of large framed artwork—my dad’s calligraphy and decorations for his By Hook or By Crook: My Autograph Book.

Finally, into his office. Every wall, except for the windows, lined floor-to-ceiling with picture books and chapter books—some written by him. I adored being there, surrounded by books, as enchanting as his collection of antique toys.

“Young Marah,” my dad would say—still does, though I am 36 with two children of my own—“I’ve been bringing you here since you were born. I’d leave you with Veronica and Marge and Shirley, and they would ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ over you, and even give you bottles and change your diapers.”

“Dad! You didn’t ask them to do that, did you?!”

“They were model caregivers to you and, later on, fine teachers of typing and filing.”

It was surreal, years later, to come back to those beloved halls as an undergraduate and, one day, with bated breath, drop off my application to the Professional Development Program (PDP). It didn’t matter who’d known me since when, or that my dad had been a faculty associate and then professor since 1972: they couldn’t give me—or take away—extra points for that.

Marah Zola at on graduation day, 2003

Completing PDP transformed my understanding of what it is to be a teacher. As my dad says, “Being a teacher is more than doing—it is a way of being.” It demands courage, passion, whole-hearted commitment, and humility. It is a fine and noble calling.

PDP enabled me also to appreciate who my parents are, and how they have contributed to so many lives: faculty members, teachers, students, and, ultimately, children. PDP showed me why my parents, and other teachers, cite their students as their greatest teachers.

On completion of an arduous, exciting year in PDP, I chose not to be a teacher. However, I continue to draw on my teacher education experiences—at one time as a children’s librarian in a public library, now as a writer and the president of a Parent Participation Preschool board, and, in my greatest adventure, as a mother.

My parents, Meguido and Melanie, still keep actively connected with various aspects of the faculty’s mission. Their work is alive, and continues to inspire me, as do their colleagues and my own professors and teachers from PDP.

And always, I will think of my dad’s office: wall-to-wall books just waiting to be discovered.

Marah Zola
BA 2002, PDP 2003

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