A reflection from Local Matters' team member, Jori Turner

Jori Turner reflects on her work with Local Matters coming full circle.

“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.”  I enjoy coming upon a meaningful quote, like this one from Stephen King, and enjoy them even more when I find their truth. A couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call that validated King’s observation.

My younger cousin, Kyndal, has always been “my girl!” On a hot and humid day last summer, I brought her to work with me. That day, I was teaching students about succession planting. As I taught, I found that I had a familiar pair of eyes watching me and curious ears listening to my lesson. I hoped that Kyndal was saving nuggets of information for herself.

Then came the tasting—baked kale chips—a favorite in our classrooms. I asked my students how they enjoyed the kale chips with many affirmations of the snack’s tastiness in response. I arrived at Kyndal’s seat, asking “How do you like them?” To my relief, she smiled slightly and gave me a thumbs up. Bear in mind that Kyndal is what I call a ‘specific eater’ -- she knows what she likes. I was satisfied that she at least tried the kale chips.

Fast forward to this summer, nearly a year later. Kyndal called me on the phone. She wasted no time to state her reason for calling. “Do you remember those kale chips you made in class that time I went to work with you? They were really good, and I want to make them. Will you give me with the recipe?” Of course, I gave her the recipe, not knowing she already had the kale at home, ready to cook. I asked her to let me know how the chips turned out. 

Two days later, I received a video message of Kyndal making the kale chips and the finished product. The most surprising part of the video was the 10 seconds of time filled by her older brother, Jason, eating a kale chip and enjoying it! “J,” as I call him, is not a lover of vegetables of any kind. 

Upon hanging up the phone, I sat still for a few seconds, filled with gladness and humility that Kyndal’s experience with me in the classroom impacted her in a way that made her feel interested in and capable of making a healthful snack for her and her brother. This experience warmed my heart and reminded me that the individuals we teach hear us and move at their own pace.