The children always were known as her little seeds, as she endearingly called them. But Columbus resident Connie Radovanovic became the one firmly planted, remaining at the helm of the Little Seeds Preschool for 39 years until a recent transition.
The 77-year-old leader never figured on such longevity. She planned on staying only long enough to see her own two tiny offspring move into elementary school. But the youngsters in her classrooms originally at Asbury United Methodist Church captured her heart.
“Children are so accepting, and they love without boundaries,” Radovanovic said.
And are so prone to blurt everything from the silly to sublime. Her just-published first book, “Innocence and Wisdom of My Little Seeds,” serves as proof of the age-old, straightforward, kids-say-the-darndest-things viewpoint. And she might be the perfect author for such a work, given the fact that she wrote down children’s witty ways at the end of each day — and then later typed their quotes and presented them as memory books to each student, along with some of their artwork, at the end of each school year.
She will sign copies of the release from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 6 at Viewpoint Books, 548 Washington St., in downtown Columbus.
“This book is for parents and grandparents and really, anyone who just needs a little joy,” she said, chatting at Community Church of Columbus, where Little Seeds is now located at 3850 N. Marr Road.
“After reading these anecdotes, I hope you will remember the inherent worth of children and the wonder they bring into the world,” the author wrote in the book’s introduction.
Many readers will remember the inherent worth of a good laugh and a breezy, fast-paced, entertaining read, if nothing else, when perusing the 144-page volume. The book’s streamlined format of brief chapters, covering topics ranging from chickens (as in hatching them in their own classroom) to heaven to money matters allows the reader to begin reading at any spot on any page for a big dose of pint-sized perspective.
Consider this quip from a student named Mary Claire while hugging a teacher from behind: “I am looking at your butt. My Mom thinks her butt is too big. Do you think my Mom’s butt is too big?”
Or this exchange between a teacher and a student: “Haley, you have such a nice dog pen and play area for your dog. But I don’t see the dog.”
Haley: “We had to give him away. He didn’t have an off-and-on button.”
Bartholomew County resident Bruce Tinsley, whose two children attended Little Seeds years ago and who is known nationally for his newspaper comic strip “Mallard Fillmore,” added wonderfully whimsical illustrations to the youngsters’ wry observations.
Tinsley was eager to help with the book, with proceeds benefiting pediatric cancer research. That means plenty to the cartoonist, since son Burke suffered through childhood cancer. The youngster who is now an adult still considers Radovanovic his favorite teacher of all time, including elementary, high school and college years.
“Plus, nobody I know can say no to Connie about much of anything,” Tinsley said, adding that he loves the book.
One of his illustrations accompanies his then-young son’s observation about one of the school’s toilets.
Teacher: “Burke, you forgot to flush the toilet.”
Burke: “We have Al Gore to blame for this. He wants us to have toilets that use less water. When they use less water, they make more noise. I do not like the noise.”
Radovanovic carefully selected an image for the cover from one of Little Seeds’ outings to an area goat farm. In the shot taken by a Little Seeds parent, Kory Callihan, student Zita Riegle, now a second-grader, holds a baby goat.
“You look at the book title beginning with the word innocence and then you look at that picture, and you just can’t think of anything else,” the author said.
She left a career as a college professor teaching Western civilization and more to nurture her little seeds the same way she nurtures her home-grown roses.
“I am just the caregiver, lovingly and consistently caring for them, sometimes pruning them,” she said of both children and roses. “The result is a fragrant bouquet with each rose adding its own sweet fragrance and beauty, just like these children as we allow them mature.”
In her mind, the youngsters have been sweeter than the maple syrup that she and her husband Rod make. And she takes no credit for her longevity in a field that she knows can be draining.
“My strength for doing this for so long comes from God,” she said. “It has been my mission.”