There are people who enter into your life unexpectedly, and have a positive impact on you, and your family. Mrs. Julie Nauman is one of those individuals who has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of children in the Steilacoom Historical School District, and across the country.
On Friday, December 16, the community and the school district wished Nauman a fond farewell as she enters retirement. Nauman was greeted with cheers from students as school counselor Coley Fannin escorted her into the community room. The entire student body sang a special Scooby Doo song just for Nauman, and the Chloe Clark PTA presented Nauman with a lifetime membership to the organization. But the highlight was when second grade teacher Melissa Guyles and the PTA presented Nauman a hand-made “I-Spy” quilt that has the thumbprint of every single current Chloe Clark student on it.
“We want to wrap this quilt around you with love, as a way to give back to you the love and hugs you have given to us,” said Guyles.
Second grade teacher Ginnie Hebert and Guyles organized the quilt project, and managed to keep it a surprise for Nauman.
The hugs, care, and love that Nauman gives was a constant theme throughout all the speeches given. First grade teacher Danita Ross said, “I’m so excited for you that you are retiring, and I’m also jealous. You put in more volunteer hours than anyone in this school, long before school starts each day. If there was anyone who deserves a break, it’s you. But I’m sure going to miss you,” said Ross.
Second grade teacher Mike Slater shared that when he was hired six years ago, Mr. Yoho introduced him to Mrs. Nauman, to which she called him “the new guy” and gave him a great big hug.
“I felt not only welcomed, but I knew that this school would be a special place to work. Those hugs have continued throughout the years, helping each of us through tough times and celebrating the good,” shared Slater.
DuPont mom Jennie Lange described Nauman as being ‘wonder woman’ for helping new parents get their children enrolled into school.
“I was told Julie would take care of it, and she did. She treated me like I was her own daughter,” said Lange.
She went on to say that Nauman has calmly helped parents find lost children on the bus, and was personally there for her while going through deployments.
“Julie guides parents and kids through bumps, bruises, tears and laughter, wet and muddy clothes, lost jackets, homework, forgotten lunches…all of which may seem unimportant to us as adults, however, Julie has a gift of knowing that these events to a child can alter the course of their day from good to bad in a heartbeat. She has a gift of knowing how to lighten a child’s heart, and give them the confidence they need just by her kind smile,” said Lange.
DuPont mom Kelly Schneider shared that several years ago, her son Cade was admiring a blown-glass snowman that Nauman’s sister had made for her. After Christmas, Nauman wrapped up the snowman and gave it to Cade.
“That snowman is on display, year round, in his room. She has such a big heart,” said Schneider.
It’s no secret that Nauman loves to reward good behavior. Typically it’s the younger siblings of students at Chloe Clark who make out like bandits over suckers and M&M’s. When DuPont mom Donna Robinson would bring her younger son Aiden in to help stuff Wednesday envelopes, Nauman would always have a lollipop ready to reward Aiden for being mommy’s little helper.
These acts of kindness make you realize just how special Nauman is.
“She is one-of-a-kind,” said Chloe Clark Principal Gary Yoho.
Earlier this year, Yoho informed me that over the past 10 years, Nauman has been a pen-pal to several children named ‘Chloe Clark’ all across the United States. This summer, she received a letter from a young woman named ‘Chloe Clark’ in Latham, New York. This particular Chloe had written Chloe Clark Elementary in the past saying how cool it was that there was a school named ‘Chloe Clark’. The young lady wrote Nauman and the school, informing them she had just graduated High School, and she would begin college this fall, with the intent of becoming a teacher.
Nauman said that there have been Chloe Clark letter writers from Kentucky, South Carolina, New York, Florida and Texas. She has been a pen-pal to them all on behalf of Chloe Clark Elementary.
“Julie was the one who corresponded with all of them, sending them Chloe Clark t-shirts, pedometers, or anything with Chloe Clark on it,” shared Yoho.
The Chloe Clark principal ended the assembly by carrying on a tradition that he and Nauman started when the school first opened ten years ago: the tradition of handing out apples to the students at the front door as they left for summer vacation. Yoho handed Nauman a gemstone covered apple, for her last day at Chloe Clark Elementary.
Shortly before the students were dismissed for winter break on Dec. 16, the entire student body shouted a rousing “Thank YOU” to Nauman. She responded with a heartfelt, “I love you!” Children sitting near her spontaneously jumped up and gave her hugs in return.
Chloe Clark Elementary is a very special place because of the special treatment Julie Nauman has given every parent and student that has walked through its doors for over 10 years. We parents, teachers and students can’t thank you enough for your kindness, sincerity, love, support, hugs…and your secret candy stash of M&M’s. Thank you for being a great teacher and ‘mom’ to all of us. Now, go enjoy your retirement!