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The Reading Child

The Reading Child, a sculpture in the Ray School Lobby, was donated by the family of Louise Derrick, longtime Ray School teacher, in her memory. It was created by sculptor, Larry Nolan, of Windsor, Vermont.

Louise, the mother of six children, was the first educational assistant hired by the Hanover Statue of a child reading School District in the late 1960′s. She was the only one for the whole school, so she rotated between all the
teachers and did many different kinds of duties. In addition to her work in the classroom, she had recess duties including early morning and late afternoon bus duty each day. In 1970 when Hanover Elementary School became the Bernice A. Ray School and moved to Reservoir Road more educational assistants were hired, so Louise became the assistant for a single grade level of teachers, only four classrooms. Louise was usually found in a kindergarten, first or second grade classroom. In the 1980′s Louise was hired as a permanent first grade teacher. She was enthusiastic and creative, always looking for new ways to encourage her students to learn. She especially loved involving her young pupils in nature and science projects, taking them often on the new school nature trail. Literature was also one of her loves. Most of her first graders turned out to be enthusiastic readers. Even after her retirement, Louise came back to the Ray School often. Before school started each year she came in during the pre school teacher workshop days to help several teachers get their classrooms ready for the new year. She also volunteered in the Ray School Library each week and especially enjoyed helping the youngest ones find answers to their many questions. She planned nature activities with Alice Jackson, a wonderful Ray School science volunteer.

After Louise died, her family wanted to memorialize her in a special way at the Ray School. Louise’s husband, Frank, had met Larry Nolan, a young sculptor working as a resident at the Saint Gaudens museum in Cornish, New Hampshire and was impressed with his work. To discuss Frank’s idea, a small committee of teachers was formed along with Principal Bruce Williams. Frank invited Larry to come and meet with the group and have him listen to stories about Louise’s work as a first grade teacher and her contributions to the Ray School community. We told him about Louise’s goal of instilling in her young students an appreciation of the natural world and a love of reading and literature. Several weeks later, Larry came back to the committee with a sketch and a plan. He showed us a young child who was sitting with legs crossed and head bowed, engrossed in a book. Just behind the child, if you look closely, is a little frog (listening?). This design was approved by the committee and the Derrick family. When the bronze statue was completed it was presented to the school in a ceremony which included the Derrick Family, Larry Nolan, Bruce Williams, principal, Ray school teachers, friends and the Hanover community. The “Reading Child” sets the mood when entering the Ray School Lobby, a lovely addition.

Jean Keene Retired Librarian

June, 2008