18th Style

Inspirational Woman: Patti

Every month on the 18th, I celebrate the strong, intelligent and kind women in my life.

This month, meet Patti, a dear family friend and woman whom I truly admire.

Patti and I met six years ago through family friends and hit it off immediately. She has a kind heart, a love for life, her friends and above all her family.


18th Style: Where are you from?

Patti: I was born in Greensboro, North Carolina and moved to Fairfield as a child. However, I remained quite southern in my upbringing from manners to meals. We were taught to stand when an adult entered a room, say, “Yes Sir, No Mam.” We ate everything on our plates without comment or complaint, even when we had no idea what it might be.

In short, there were certain standards we did not question or cross!

18th Style: You are retired now, but spent your career as teacher. How long did you teach for and what did you enjoy most? 

Patti: I began my teaching career in 1968 in a rural Virginia school “teaching” second grade. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I did not want to leave Virginia after my college graduation because my then boyfriend was in law school there. I had to get a job so he  set up the interview, and I was hired on the spot. I spent all my time trying to figure out how to teach, fell in love with teaching and out of love with the boyfriend- no time for romance!

Sine then, I have taught high school English, Middle School English, but along the way fell in love with fourth graders. Once in fourth grade, I stayed in fourth grade for about 35 years out of a 42 year teaching career. I am not sure what it was that I most enjoyed. Falling in love with teaching was like finding the man you want to marry. I knew I belonged there, I never had one day that I did not want to go work, and my days were filled with joy and laughter, and learning. Actually, it was even better than finding the person you want to marry! s.

18th Style: In your opinion, what you think the biggest challenge(s) teachers face today?

Patti: The biggest challenge teachers face today is technology, coupled with cultural change; they are actually one in the same. Having everything instantaneously available deprives one of the process of investigation and research and the opportunity to reflect. That sounds contradictory because of course students are researching online.
However, the process of going to the library, looking through texts, reading through those texts and then deciding on what to use…that process slows us down to THINK, and then to reflect upon that thought.  I saw a distinct shift in the quality of written creative and expository themes with the advent of technology. There is much less time to reflect on a news article, a poem or even making a decision.

18th Style: Do you have any memories (a specific student or funny teaching moment)  that stand out the most? 

Patti: Oh Goodness! I have more funny memories than God has little green apples! Children are so unabashed and they say what they say.
Where to begin…”Last night I ate a piece of cake as big as my head…My brother, Tucker, can fit his whole self into a pillow case, My report is about a disease called osteoporosis which makes you bend in half, and after reading a story about fact and fantasy here is the fact..it is easy for a man to turn himself into a an eagle, and here is the fantasy… but the wingspan of an eagle is too large to fit through the smoke hole of a tepee.”
18th Style: How do you spend your free time?
Patti: Hmmm. What is free time? I believe all time is free, it depends on how we choose to use it. If we have an extra five minutes in the morning, we can choose to: have a little more coffee, scramble an egg, text a grandchild who has been having a tough time in school, or just think about how grateful that we are that we woke up pretty healthy. I sort of let my free time choose me rather than I choose it.
18th Style: Who inspires you?
Patti:  I have been, and continue to be, inspired by many people. However, my husband is probably one of my greatest inspirations. He is smart, patient, reflective, but most of all he is humble and forgiving at all times. These are qualities that are rare in our culture today.

18th Style: Who inspires your style and what’s your favorite store or brand? 

Patti: My style might be found in The Preppy Handbook written sometime in the early 1960’s. While I do go out and buy a small number of in style fashions such as leggings, I tend to stick to the little black dress and pumps. I never got the the hang of high heel shoes or fishnet stockings

My shoe game has evolved in my 40s – to funky but comfortable and quality made brands.  LESS is MORE!  I’m also a blossoming sneaker-head. 🙂

18th Style: How would you describe your style?

Patti: I  would describe my style as traditionally old fashioned- sort of classic, conservative, and very safe. I am not a fashionista.


18th Style: As we all know, life is a journey and presents many challenges . What advice would you give your 20 year old self?

Patti: I would tell my 20 year old self to slow down, and to listen, listen, listen to the wisdom of those who have age and experience.


18th Style: Do you have a favorite quote or saying? If yes, would you mind sharing?

Patti: Yes…There are thousands of wise quotes, however, this anonymous one is my favorite:

“Always remember this…a positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth your while!”



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