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Three Little Christmas Gems

Updated: May 1, 2022

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Missy Swajkoski is my friend; she is also an excellent educator and an amazing person. I met her when she and I worked together at a local junior high school: Missy was in charge of the in-house detention program as well as adviser for National Junior Honor Society. As you might guess, her two jobs did not include working with the same type of students, but someone forgot to tell Missy that. She treated the in-house students with caring and dignity - something many of them had never experienced before, and she challenged every student in both groups to reach their own potential, both academically and with regard to human kindness.

One project Missy started that I loved involved her honor students working with refugee children. The junior high kids were bused over to an elementary school where they mentored the younger students on lots of different academics, including Reading. She showed me pictures of all the kids lying on the floor in the hallways reading together - probably something the refugee children had little experience with since books are expensive, and it is not exactly a priority when families are fleeing for their lives. Her photos of these students were truly inspiring. Missy always said she wasn't sure which group learned the most from that project, and I agreed.

But Missy doesn't just educate kids - she tries to teach all of us lessons in forgiveness, humility, caring and courage. In my case, since she knows about my website, she is always passing along inspiring stories from World War 2. I appreciate this so much because most of the news from war involves death and destruction. Missy's shared gems remind me that if you look deeply enough, there are also beautiful stories about duty and service and the strength of the human heart. I need to remember this, and Missy's videos help me do that. Below are the links to three WW2 stories - inspiring Christmas gifts from Missy to all of us.

Highlight the link and right-click to view:

A Sundance award winning film about an American doctor who took his camera with him during his WW2 service. He returns after the war with boxes of film about what he saw there, including one particular plane crash. 14 mins 39 secs

A youtube video about WWII's last surviving female spitfire pilot Mary Ellis. Sadly, Mary recently died in July of 2018. 1 min 40 secs

An NPR broadcast: Female WWII Pilots: The Original Fly Girls (pictured below).

8:59 mins

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