Uncle Boyd…A Genuine Renaissance Man

Words can’t express how much this wonderful man will be missed here on Earth. How much I am missing him. Uncle Boyd was truly one of a kind. A Renaissance man with so many God given talents and a fun loving personality to go with those talents.

Uncle Boyd took up drawing in his retirement and these are some of the amazing birds he drew.

He loved children and always made sure they were included, going out of his way to make sure they felt special and were recognized. He got down on their level (which wasn’t easy to do with his tall stature) and softly spoke to them instead of at them. I loved seeing him interact with my mini me. Although they only met a few times, I have pleasant memories of my daughter laughing at her Great Uncle Boyd’s jovial antics. And as a mother, I appreciated the authentic connection he made with her.

Uncle Boyd loved children.

Uncle Boyd was a wordsmith. And when he spoke I hung onto every word! I can think of nothing I loved more than sitting in a comfy chair in his living room and listening to Uncle Boyd share his thoughts on education and learning. He was so well read, so well spoken…a brilliant mind! I always walked away from one of those conversations enlightened, looking at things in a new light and feeling more optimistic for the future. And like all great teachers, he never stopped learning. He constantly sought new experiences, studied and acknowledged differences and was willingly open to challenging himself. You would always find him reading a new book or two, often one for pleasure but always one or more on education reform or how the brain works or on how people learn. He never lectured “at you” but with his warm and gentle manner, guided you to think outside of yourself and to look at things in a different way. What a blessing those mini lectures were! What a blessing Uncle Boyd was to me and to my family of three! I truly am a better person because of him.

Uncle Boyd had so much fun with my mini me!

After my husband and I married and Uncle Boyd and Aunt Dixie became my new relations, I always made a point to meet up with them when I was in Minnesota for work. The educators I worked with would often comment how nice it was that I would take the time to visit my husband’s aunt and uncle but what they didn’t realize is I was the one benefiting from those visits! Uncle Boyd always asked me questions and he listened to me with interest and full concentration. When we were engaged in conversation I felt safe and carefree, as if the world and all of it’s problems were put on pause and the only thing of importance was our present conversation.

Uncle Boyd didn’t know a stranger. He was beloved everywhere he went. When I accompanied him to many of his favorite establishments (Punch Pizza, Nicollet Island Inn, Culver’s, just to make a few) he was given a personal greeting. Uncle Boyd always took the time to get to know others whether it be his neighbors, students, workers, church members or the servers at his favorite restaurants. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if Uncle Boyd could go anywhere without being recognized! When he and Aunt Dixie traveled to our wedding, a consultant friend of mine saw Uncle Boyd at breakfast and asked, “Dr. Purdom, what are you doing in southern IL?” He was one of her favorite college professors and she couldn’t believe I was marrying his nephew! Another time I was training teachers and happened to mention Uncle Boyd. Several teachers and an administrator commented how they had him as a professor and he had changed their views on child advocacy and adoption, inspiring one to become a foster parent. He noticed people, made them feel important and his smile and gentle nature always made people happy and at ease.

One of the many fabulous dinners we enjoyed together over the years.

My family of three hosted Christmas for the first time this year and before we even heard of his illness I had planned to read one of Uncle Boyd’s poems before dinner. It seemed fitting that his most recent poem was about family. He loved his family so very much. Along with education, those memorable conversations in his living room would always include stories of family. Stories of his days as a professor and his students, many who were like family. Aunt Dixie and Uncle Boyd opened their home up to college students during the holidays and Shasta made sure that students who couldn’t be with their families had a place to gather. His face always lit up as he shared stories about his daughter Angela. How very proud he was of his little girl! Some tell tale stories about his brothers and his wife and her sisters would always provide some good laughs! Uncle Boyd was a man of great faith and a conversation would never go by without him acknowledging his Heavenly Father and his love for his church. Uncle Boyd brought joy to all of us and we will all miss him. The lessons he taught, the jokes he played, the words he wrote, the pictures he painted and the love he showed to all of us, will never be forgotten. He will live on through each of us and through future generations. Until we meet again, my dear Uncle Boyd.

Uncle Boyd’s 2021 Christmas poem.
Due to COVID and being unable to safely travel, my last visit with Uncle Boyd was on August 28, 2018.

Together is a Wonderful Place to Be (Being Thoughtful, Informed and Brave About Race)…Days 77 and 78

Our country is suffering. As we navigate a “new normal,” as a result of a national pandemic, my heart breaks over the injustice and inequity that has plagued our nation for centuries. The recent death of George Floyd and countless others is wrong and intolerable. We can do better. For our children and for the future of our country, we must do better.

To my black friends and neighbors, although I know I will never fully understand, please know that I stand with you. I lift you and your families up in prayer. I will continue to implement an anti-bias classroom when teaching my young daughter and learners across our country. I care about you. You are not alone.

I stand with the peaceful protesters and pray that justice will be served, progress will be made and no more innocent lives will be lost.

The Anti-Bias Curriculum– My interest in the anti-bias curriculum began when I was taking graduate courses in curriculum and instruction some twenty years ago. As an early childhood educator who taught in a diverse classroom (with multiple races, languages and cultures represented), I needed help in creating a better environment for my students and wanted to become the teacher they deserved. Louise Derman-Sparks and her contributions to the anti-biased curriculum caught my attention. Derman-Sparks challenged me to reflect on my own practices and to do better. I implemented changes in my classroom and began to look at life in a new way, embracing opportunities to discuss our differences and having natural conversations with my inquisitive students. I examined my curriculum, restructured my classroom library (making sure I included books that represented the diversity in my classroom and not just books about animals and white people) and I discontinued celebrating “traditional kindergarten holidays” that were culturally inappropriate. 

“Because the realities of prejudice and discrimination begin to affect children’s development early. It IS developmentally appropriate to address them in our work with young children.” A quote by Louise Derman-Sparks and Julie Olsen-Edwards

Below are some resources for families and educators

On the subject of race. This is simply a sample as there is a wealth of material available. I invite you to share the websites and resources you are using with the children in your life by clicking on the comment section.

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The above graphic was put together by Pretty Good Design. CLICK HERE for a list of resources on their website in talking to your young children about race. Don’t be silent!

I watched this Zoom discussion titled, “Talking to Kids About Racism” a few days ago. Led by Dr. Kira Banks, with a panel of both black and white participants. I found the discussion helpful. CLICK HERE to watch.

Embrace Race– The Embrace Race website contains articles, lists and action guides to help us raise a generation of children who are thoughtful, informed and Brave About Race!

We Stories  We Stories engages white families to change the conversation about and to build momentum towards racial equity in St. Louis through the use of children’s literature and discussion. We Stories just launched their first national cohert.  

Inclusive Story Time– A website with information on children’s literature that contains diverse characters, authors and illustrations, Inclusive Story Time helps you raise conscious kids by diversifying your bookshelf. 

I am proud to be part of an organization that stands for justice and equality for all.