Earlier this week, NBC’s Today Show featured a segment on Marty Rogers. And if we needed someone to teach us gratitude this Thanksgiving Day, we should look no farther than “Mr. Marty,” as the kids at the Partnership’s Immaculate Conception School call him.
While the Today Show featured his work helping to host a Thanksgiving dinner at the Immaculate Conception parish next door, our students know that you are as likely to find him in the school garden, helping them plant vegetables and flowers, or playing the guitar at Mass, or helping ensure that ICS students get a chance to go see the Yankees play—and have plenty of snacks while they sit in the stands.
He brings more than green space and treats to our students; as Immaculate Conception Dean Trista Rivera says, “he brings hope—to whatever space people are in at the moment. And that’s most important when his hope is mirrored in us and our students when we are around him.”
Like Marty, his wife Francine has a long reputation of bringing hope to Partnership Schools; she taught at St. Athanasius for over forty years, and her legacy of service still animates those who were taught by her or worked with her. As dean Fiona Chalmers says, “Francine always finds time to make it about the whole child–about being a good person. She makes it about the gifts God has given each of them.”
Thanksgiving is a holiday about gratitude. Gifts like hope and gratitude—and the example of them that Marty and Francine Rogers and other adults set for our kids—make the world bigger and more plentiful, even in moments when it may seem to close in on us.
Last week, students at Our Lady Queen of Angels in East Harlem shared with us what they were thankful for. Some students are most grateful for the basics of their lives—the food they eat, and the apartments they live in—while others express gratitude for friends, family, God, and life itself.
But we found students mentioned one thing more than any other:
And on the busy day before Thanksgiving, a group of students at St. Athanasius took time away from work and classroom celebrations to send us a message in a song—a song that could not describe better what we hope our students emulate in role models like Marty Rogers:
In simple lyrics, peering out over their masks, our students share this sense of who they are, and what they are here to do:
We are pilgrims on a journey
Fellow travelers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load
This Thanksgiving, we are thankful to every teacher—every donor, school leader, volunteer, parent, and colleague—who is helping us and our students walk the mile and bear load this fall. And we pray that God blesses you, just as you, each in your own way, bless us.