About the AuthorsEleanor Powell Bartlett
Eleanor Powell Bartlett is a retired Albany educator. She has served as a special education teacher for all grades, assistant middle school principal, elementary school and high school house principal, as well as assistant and deputy superintendents. In addition she is a former member of the New York State Board of Regents serving the 3rd Judicial District. She has been the recipient of many awards: Capital District Leader in Education, Capital Region Center Principal of the Year and the NAACP Freedom Award. Eleanor and her husband Pat have two children: a daughter, Terri Lynn Cade, a son, Kevin, and a daughter-in-law, Elizabeth(Russo). They are the proud grandparents of: Taryn and Tselan Cade and Arianna Michele Bartlett born on September 22, 2007.
Kathy Pautler was born, raised and educated in Albany, New York. This began a lifelong association with the city. She taught for more than 30 years, first as a third grade teacher at Giffen Elementary School and then as a reading teacher at P.S. 18 and P.S. 23, now known as The Albany School of Humanities. Kathy was recognized by The New York State English Council as an Educator of Excellence. Married to her high school sweetheart, Kathy and Jim have three children of their own: Jim, Greg and Michelle. They are former owners of a dog named, Patches. Kathy has read tens of thousands of books to and with her children and students.
Kathy Pautler on Eleanor Bartlett
Eleanor Who??? That was my first response when I heard that Eleanor Bartlett was going to be my new principal at the Albany School of Humanities, one of Albanyís first magnet schools. Little did I know that this unknown person would have such a profound impact on my life.
Eleanor was a breath of fresh air from the moment she walked through the door. Nothing was too much for her. Her door was always open to students, parents and staff. A hands on approach to leadership included tying shoelaces on roller skates, sweeping the gym floor, following a special area teacherís schedule to get a sense of their day, or even cooking hot dogs were all part of her style. Eleanor was a "roll up your sleeves" leader.
One of her many visions was to capitalize on the strengths of those around her. She was able to bring out the full potential of those she encountered. Everyone who came in contact with Eleanor probably has their own story, and here is mine. I taught writing, but never thought of myself as a writer. As our magnet school developed and attracted community attention, Eleanor suggested we apply for Blue Ribbon School recognition. The process required endless written documentation about our school. Undaunted by the process Eleanor assembled a group of stakeholders: students, parents, community members and teachers to acquire the necessary information. The next step was for a team to write the application. Eleanor and I live close to each other (a fact that would change a working relationship into a lifelong friendship over the years). At the time I had young children and my house became the meeting place to tie the application together. After months of work, I realized the power of the written word. Eleanor again used her magic wand to gently maneuver people to their area of expertise. I was one of these lucky people and began to realize my potential as a writer. The seed was planted that first time with the Blue Ribbon application.
Over the years our team would apply for and win a Redbook Magazine Award as a school of Excellence. New York State Compact for Learning and grant writing became additional sources of writing experiences. With new found confidence and with Eleanorís support, four teachers created a writing program that we named BRAGLLA or Bridges Across Grade Levels in Language Arts. This teacher written program incorporated the basic foundations of the writing process with creativity to take our students to the next level in writing. The joy was in hearing and reading students work who loved the written word. Our BRAGLLA team presented workshops in our district and in other schools throughout the Capital District. As a result of this program our team won, the New York State Educator of Excellence award. Why? How? Our inspiration came from our leader, Eleanor Bartlett. She was the one who encouraged us to formulate what we did in the classroom into a program. It was Eleanor who placed the English Councilís application in our hands. It was Eleanor who attended our luncheon ceremony as now Deputy Superintendent for our district. Still supporting her teachers even though she was no longer our principal.
How did we travel from this point to writing a book together? As Eleanor moved from Deputy Superintendent, to Superintendent our paths didnít always cross. Her busy schedule didnít allow much free time. However, remember I said that we lived near each other. We might see each other at the store or a holiday party. Eleanor, is the type of person that you never feel youíve lost touch. You just pick up where you left off. Sometime during this period we became walking partners. It didnít happen often or routinely, but the beginning phase of our walking buddies was started.
After Eleanor "retired"(I donít know when this ever really happened), we began to walk in earnest almost every day. Our conversations over an hour walk would range from family, to education issues, to frivolous items. One lament throughout our walking history was that we should have written a book about our jobs. We regretted that we hadnít kept a journal over the years. Another question we raised was: Would anyone believe what we wrote and how do you translate the humor of the moment with our students into the written word?
Two more jobs entered Eleanorís life: Regent for the 3rd Judicial District followed by being named principal of the first charter school in the city of Albany. Once again our walking time was shortened by Eleanorís new positions and the fact that I was still working. This didnít diminish our friendship, as we reconnected whenever we had the chance.
Finally, the day came when Eleanor completely retired. She began enjoying time at her second home in Florida. As I began looking into my own retirement, I questioned if I would be busy enough to occupy 24 hours/seven days a week. The decision was made. I retired in June of 2006. Time flew by quickly especially those first months as everything was new. I took my first September vacation with my husband. I stepped into volunteering at my churchís food pantry. I decided to help my brother open and close his summer home one and a half days a week. But all too soon my first winter was approaching. Our walking time was back on track. Bad weather drove us indoors to walk the mall. Walking in circles isnít so bad when you have a walking partner.
There was never a loss of conversation between us on our almost daily walks. One day Eleanor mentioned a dog her family had as she was growing up. Her vivid memory of her dog Friday, led me to suggest that this was the book she should write. It was a simple statement as we pounded the pavement. A simple thought that would steer us along a different path in our retirement.
Fate stepped in around December 2006. Eleanor was planning a winter getaway to Florida. Unfortunately, her husband, Pat was unable to go. It appeared that the trip would be cancelled. Pat made the suggestion that I should accompany Eleanor on her trip to Florida. Remember this was my first year being retired and my husband, Jim was still working. Well, you didnít have to ask me twice if I wanted to spend a month in the winter in Florida! In February of 2007 we headed off to sunny Florida.
The plan, if there even was one, was to enjoy the sites nearby, attend a concert or two, shop and just enjoy being away from the cold. Not being much of a beach person, Eleanor, faithfully took me around to show me the incredible beaches along the west coast. I could enjoy the serenity of the beaches, but not the sun. It was one of these trips to the beach that Eleanor suggested we start writing a book about her dog, Friday. One trip to the store for yellow pads and pencils, provided the basic materials for our book. Every beach trip found us camped under an umbrella writing about Friday. Longer road trips included our yellow pad and pencils with me writing as Eleanor drove.
As they say, the rest is history. A year and a half later we published our book, Friday A Dogís Tale. Over the years Eleanor Who became my friend and coauthor. Never did I believe that my life would change in this direction. What I should have realized is: With Eleanor in your life anything is possible!