Described by her Shepherd of the Valley Poland staff as 93 years young yet a woman of few words, Dorothy Bode has a history of more than 40 years spent in the elementary classroom. Once back in her element, she had plenty to say.
On Wednesday, May 2, Bode was granted her Second Wind Dream courtesy SOV-Poland's own personal "dream team," who arranged for Bode, accompanied by her niece, Joanne Bode, a former librarian, to read to a group of 4- and 5-year-olds who attend the preschool at Zion Lutheran Church.
Second Wind Dreams, according to its website, was founded in 1997 as an international non-profit organization intent on enhancing the quality of life for those living in eldercare communities.
Photo by Kathleen Palumbo, Town Crier correspondent
At 93 years young, Dorothy Bode found her way back to the head of the class courtesy of her Second Wind Dream team at Shepherd of the Valley-Poland, who orchestrated the opportunity for her to read to the preschool students at Zion Lutheran Church accompanied by her niece, Joanne Bode, pictured to her right.
According to information provided by Shepherd of the Valley, when asked her dream, Bode shared that she wanted to return to the classroom, a setting in which she spent more than four decades, and read to children.
"Making these dreams come true is so much fun," said Paula Blakeman, activity director at SOV-Poland, adding that despite her usual quietness, Bode surprised staff members present with how comfortably she took to reading to the children.
A graduate of Youngstown State University with a degree in elementary education, according to information provided by Joanne Bode, her aunt began her career in Orwell, and after one year joined the Youngstown City School system at the Stambaugh School, where she worked as a teacher's mentor traveling from school to school helping new teachers develop their skills.
Transferring to Jackson Elementary School, where she remained for the next 40 years, teaching first grade, Bode retired in 1984.
Joanne Bode went on to recall that her aunt would spend her summers, and later, much of her retirement, traveling the world.
Sharing that she and Bode's other nieces and nephews would look forward to postcards from Africa, Japan, Russia, India, China, and Poland, all destinations to which their aunt traveled, they were often surprised by treasured gifts as well.
The only one of Bode's nieces and nephews who lives nearby, Joanne Bode said she tries to visit her aunt at least every few weeks.
"It's a wonderful program," she said of SOV's association with Second Wind Dreams, adding, "I think it's real special."
Following a craft with the preschoolers, Bode returned to SOV, where she dined with her niece, surrounded by a gift basket sure to satisfy her sweet tooth, and numerous pictures the preschool children created for her.
While for Bode, May 2 was surely a stroll down memory lane for the decades-long retired teacher, even at age 93, her Second Wind Dream managed to take her straight to the head of the class.