“For the doors will open
and the little ones will stream in—
and good times to begin.”
So goes a stanza about local fourth graders, in a poem by their teacher Terry M. He wrote the piece for the Princeton edition of Taking Pause, a public art installation hosted by the Arts Council of Princeton and supported by the Princeton University Humanities Council. Other sponsors include Timothy M. Andrews, Princeton Future, and the Bank of Princeton.
A decade and a half ago, Terry’s student Melanie arrived at school, pulled a stuffed Sheriff Woody out of her backpack, and proudly presented him to Terry. She and her friend had painted bright colors all over the toy.
“He’s a gift for you!” she told Terry.
Immediately, Terry placed Sheriff Woody on top of the fire alarm so that he would overlook the class, as he has ever since. Every September, new fourth graders ask Terry about Woody, and Terry recounts his memories of Melanie. “They peer up at Woody with wonder, as only a child could,” Terry noted, adding that some students even write about their collective companion.
“Hopefully, when children and adults look at Woody and read my poem, they are transported back to their own elementary classrooms, teachers, and friends. I’d like for them to revisit their joys and successes and go on about their day with a positive attitude,” Terry explained.
Located in Dohm Alley, near Labyrinth Books, Taking Pause displays portraits and stories collected by Robin Resch GS ’03 surrounding the question, “What is irreplaceable to you?” Visitors can submit their own responses at takingpause.net.
The full photos and words of Terry, along with other participants, will be free to view in Dohm Alley through October 16. Each month, the Humanities Council highlights one community member from the exhibition.