Retiring teacher to return as volunteer Her style is to do more than required

June 15, 1993|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Staff Writer

Thirty-four years just wasn't enough time for her to "guide students on the right path toward success," says Lillian P. Trotman.

That's why she may be retiring this month as media specialist at Brooklyn Park Elementary School, but she will be back next fall to volunteer part time in the Reading Enrichment League -- a program she designed with parent volunteer Vera McCullough to work one-on-one with at-risk students.

The reading program involves volunteers working as mentors with children who have problems doing well in school to get them involved in reading and interested in learning. The program will start officially in October, Ms. Trotman said.

"It's like the closing of a book for me because after all these years of teaching, I'm so tired," said Ms. Trotman, 62. "But every year we are finding more children entering school completely unprepared. Their only cultural experience has come from the cartoons on the television. If I can continue to bring at least one child back from the destructive road with the reading program, then it would be worth it to come back."

A native of Baltimore, Ms. Trotman graduated with a French and Spanish degree from Morgan State College in the late 1950s and had no desire to become a teacher. She was more interested in traveling the world as a military interpreter, she said.

"But my mom wasn't too keen back then on a woman in the service, so I went to Bowie State and got my teaching degree," recalled Ms. Trotman, who has been the librarian at Brooklyn Park for about 19 years.

"Actually, I'm really glad it didn't turn out the way I had wanted it to," she added, after 34 years of teaching. "Because I really love the children and love steering them onto the road of success."

Parents and teachers described Ms. Trotman as caring and encouraging and say she went way beyond the call of duty as a librarian.

She started an after-school French Club, got students involved in reading programs and used student aides to work in the library.

"Oh man, we are going to miss her," said Lorie Thornhill, 36, a parent volunteer and mother of a third-grader. "She's such a wonderful woman who has been so helpful with the kids."

Although she said she is excited by the prospect of having time to travel, Ms. Trotman also said she has mixed feelings about leaving her teaching career.

"There's no respect and love of learning from children anymore it seems," Ms. Trotman said. "Parents seem to ship them off to school and think we, as teachers, can do everything. We can't, because some things just have to come from the home."

It's difficult to teach for 34 years and see education getting worse instead of better, Ms. Trotman said. But even though she doesn't feel children are as well prepared for the future as they should be, she has high hopes that things will improve.

That's why she says she will do the same thing that Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat" did. Come back.

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