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by Abigail Van Buren

Teacher's Loving Lesson Turns Girl's Fear to Fun

DEAR ABBY: My wife, our 7-year-old daughter, Silvia, and I arrived in Los Angeles in June 1965. At the time, Silvia had less than three months of first grade and didn't speak a word of English. We enrolled her in elementary school in Alhambra, Calif., where she was placed in a class taught by an older, conservative teacher who had little patience. The teacher would yell at Silvia for not understanding English.

As you can imagine, taking Silvia to school each day became a Greek tragedy. She would cry from the time she got into the car and continued as she walked through the school's gates. She also cried at home.

Fortunately, our daughter was transferred into another class that was taught by a younger teacher, Miss Luke. Miss Luke didn't understand a word of Spanish, but she would wait at the gate for our arrival in the morning, take Silvia's hand and walk with her all the way to the classroom. She spoke English to her in the most loving way, in a sweet, soft voice. Within a week, our daughter was actually happy to be going to school. In a month, she was speaking with her new friends in English!

Miss Luke eventually married and became Mrs. Mertha. If she reads this, we want her to know that Silvia, who showed talent for both writing and art, decided to follow in her footsteps and become a teacher like her. Although Silvia has been offered higher administrative positions, she's decided to remain in the classroom with her "little ones."

Bless you, Mrs. Mertha. You are living proof that bureaucratic laws are not a substitute for love and affection. -- RUDOLPH SPADANO, HACIENDA HEIGHTS, CALIF.

DEAR RUDOLPH: Thank you for sharing the touching story about a significant chapter in your daughter's life. It teaches two lessons -- that a dedicated teacher can make a profound difference in a child's life, and that it's not only what you say, but also how you say it that conveys a message.

DEAR ABBY: Please remind your readers that there will soon be a presidential election, and "We, the People," can either let our voices be heard or remain silent.

Politicians have power, but we, the people, have power, too. We have the power to vote, to communicate our approval or our opposition to candidates and to those who dictate their party platforms.

We, the people, have the responsibility to decide how to ensure that those we vote into office look after our best interests, our children's and grandchildren's futures. Which candidate has a more workable approach to solving the world's problems -- hate, injustice, indifference and ignorance?

On Election Day, Nov. 7, 2000, we, the people, will determine exactly the kind of leadership we deserve. Please, Abby, urge your readers to make certain we elect the best there is to offer. -- VICKY, A VOTER IN VIRGINIA


The question now that really vexes,

Is where the heck to place our "X's."

Should I give myself a push

And place an "X" where it says Bush?

Or, as a gal who knows the score,

Elect to vote for Albert Gore?

Seriously, folks, those "X's" define what each of us stands for. This is an important election, make no mistake about it. Its outcome will determine the way laws in this country are interpreted for decades. Now is NOT the time to sit on the sidelines. Thousands of people have fought and died for our right to vote in a free democracy. It's time for every eligible voter to stand up and be counted, because in this election, every vote counts.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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