The Letter Y

At first glance I wasn’t quite sure what was different, but I knew something was different. But within a few seconds it was clear to me what had changed.


Do you see it?

Not yet?

Take a closer look at the photo above. What do you see? Just a refrigerator, right?

And that’s it! That’s what had changed.

You see, our house is now on the market and we are in the process of getting it ready to be shown. And one of the suggestions many realtors make is to de-personalize your house so that potential buyers can imagine it as their own.

I get it.

But wow!

While I was at work on Thursday, my wife, my daughter and my mother-in-law, who is our realtor, spent hours getting our house ready, just in case someone were to call and want to see it. Our house has never looked so good! Everything is put away and what we do have out is arranged perfectly.

But I still can’t get over the refrigerator.

It’s not like it was aesthetically pleasing before it was cleared.

Or was it?

On it were randomly placed photos, papers and….to be quite honest, I really can’t remember. I just know that whatever was on it previously comprised a small part of who we are as a family. Every time I walked past it and every time I opened it I would see…I’m not sure what.

Like a tongue searching a recently lost tooth, I continue to walk past our refrigerator and try to recreate in my mind what once was. But I have not been very successful.

Does it really matter?

I think it does!

You see we interact with children every day that are coming to us with “blank refrigerators”. They have no collection of experiences that they want to showcase. Or if they do, they haven’t yet found the courage to outwardly display them. This is where we must not only provide them with showcase worthy experiences, we must also help them to see that they had them along.

Finally, we must give them the courage to tape them to their fridge, one piece at a time. Until what they have created is a beautiful mosaic that represents who they are, who they’ve been and if we’re lucky, who they want to become.

On the other end of the spectrum are the students that come to us with magnificently adorned refrigerators. They come to us proud and beaming with pride over what they have spent their whole lives creating. And what do we do?

We give a cursory glance at their masterpieces and then we begin to redesign their refrigerators according to how we think they should look. We add, we take away and we reorganize to the point where their refrigerator is no longer recognizable to them. And so they no longer show any interest in it.

How sad!

Shame on us!

We should be guiding them. We should be allowing them to share what is important to them instead of trying to convince them that we always know best. We are here to help them add a piece or two and maybe even take down a piece when the time is right. But this needs to be done together. Otherwise we are going to be seeing a lot of blank refrigerators.

And trust me, that is not a good feeling.

By the way, this morning when I walked by my blank refrigerator I couldn’t help but notice something. I promise this is not a staged picture. This really happened. Underneath the fridge, barely visible, was the magnetic letter Y.

Hanging on for dear life. Not ready to be removed.

It’s not much, but it’s something to build on.

And it gave me hope.






  1. Every single I post of yours that I read, moves me. This brought me to tears. Such a powerful message. Thank you Jon for continually sharing with the world.

  2. What a great blog!! Hit home for me. The walls in our kitchen have been wallpapered with Mike’s success through the years. Last year, we took them all down when were having the house painted. He responded, “It looks so bare.” I knew what he meant. My husband immediately went out and purchased several bulletin boards where we proudly hang accomplishments in school/life. (He is a freshman in hs now, and missed us showcasing our pride!!)
    Great blog!!

  3. Jon,
    Love the message in this post! I thought about one part you wrote about specifically and that was creating “showcase worthy” experiences that students feel good about and are willing to put “on the refrigerator”. Too much, in my opinion, kids go through school just passively receiving facts and information and not creating anything. Our job of helping students learn how to create rather than consume will increase the confidence kids have to share their work. This is a must read piece that all educators would be wise to read!

  4. I love post…we all have clean slates…clean refrigerators. We are the ones leaving the marks on our students “refrigerators”. We need to make sure we are leaving appropriate things behind. We hold a lot in our hands and need to take care of it…

  5. Our daughter is now grown and out of the house. Our refrigerator is bare. It is silently waiting to hold more memories. Your blog always brings life into perspective. Thank you.

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