Nancy Jo Reed was in a bit of a quandary a few days back.
She couldn’t find the latest listing of Columbus North High School honor roll students in the paper.
She needed it in order to send out her “Nanny” notes.
Sure enough, the lengthy list had not appeared by the time Nancy had called with her inquiry. The good news is that the list contained scores of names. It’s traditionally one of the longest honor roll lists that appears in The Republic.
The bad news is that the list was so long that it’s been difficult to find room to get it into the paper.
Rest assured, however, that it will appear in the coming days.
The North list — along with any other list of honor roll students in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. — is personal for the former co-owner and director of Nancy’s Nook, which until 2008 was the third largest child care provider in Bartholomew County.
The Nook closed in 2008 after 21 years of operation, all under Nancy Jo’s direction. The original facility had been closed because of a 2008 flood, and temporary quarters provided in the months following proved to be just that — temporary. Attempts to find a new, more permanent location, were fruitless.
The child care center was personal to a lot of people — Nancy Jo, the staff, the children and their families.
Tears flowed on the August day all the materials were moved out of temporary quarters at East Columbus Christian Church. It was a goodbye.
In some respects however, Nancy’s Nook lives on.
Nancy Jo Reed’s “Nanny” notes are responsible for keeping it alive in spirit, if not in physical presence.
At the end of each marking period in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. calendar she goes over the printed honor roll lists looking for familiar names. Although she will be drawn to names of children of close friends or relatives, the ones she singles out to be set aside are those of her former clients.
Using those lists, Nancy Jo then writes personal notes of congratulations to each of her former students.
It’s not a simple task. Locating current addresses can be a real treasure hunt, sometimes without a map.
“With all the privacy rules in place, it’s no easy matter to find an address for a former student,” Nancy Jo said. “I have some addresses in my old files, and I often have to call around to others to see if they might have an up to date listing.”
She estimates that she sends out more than 150 of the notes each marking period, indicating that her project can be not only demanding but expensive.
She also doesn’t limit herself to school honor rolls. If she comes across the name of a former student who receives a promotion or some kind of honor, she’ll send them a “Nanny” note.
I suppose there are some who would look upon this exercise as a nice gesture but one that would hardly be worth all the effort Nancy Jo puts into it.
I’d suggest that some of those folks talk to a recipient or two of the Nanny notes. To say the least, it’s a day brightener.
But what it really is is an affirmation of the individual’s accomplishment, an achievement that someone other than immediate family had thought deserving of recognition.
Honor roll lists take up a lot of space in the paper, but we who put them there are well aware of how important such a listing is to each person mentioned and their families. When someone outside that intimate group makes note of the recognition, then the pleasure is more than doubled.
Nancy Jo doesn’t have a patent on this kind of celebration of achievement. For years, Carol Rumple, another Columbus resident, has been sending scores of congratulatory notes to honor roll makers and other achievers.
Last month I wrote a column about the special cards Shirley Brown regularly sends to local veterans in advance of Veterans Day, thanking them in an individualized way for their service.
Believe me, those notes mean a lot to the recipients.
They show that someone cares.
Harry McCawley is associate editor of The Republic. He can be reached by phone at 379-5620 or email at email@example.com.