Week of May 30, 2004
On June 2, Jeff Blackman, Journal columnist and author, will be picked up at his Glenview home in a limousine occupied by his first grade teacher. The pair will enjoy box seats while they watch the Chicago Cubs face-off against the Houston Astros.
Blackman and his ex-teacher Donna Duffy, who was Donna Northrup, when Blackman knew her at Todd Hall School in Lincolnwood before she married, don’t see each other very much. In fact, they hardly see one another at all.
Roughly four years ago, Blackman greeted his teacher, who retired 11-years ago, at a party and handed her one of his books—Peak Your Profits. Inside the book was a story about the dedicated teacher that aided and encouraged Blackman, who suffered from a speech impediment when he was young.
“He was a most wondrous boy with an extremely bad speech impediment,” Duffy said.
A few years later, in his 2003 book Stop Whining! Start Selling!, Blackman dedicated a portion of his “Thank You” section to his ex-teacher.
“Donna Northrup: My first grade teacher, who didn’t laugh when she first heard me speak. Instead, she cheerfully encouraged me to attend my daily speech cuh-weck-shun wessons. Little did she realize, she was shaping my career.”
Just below the Northrup thank you, Blackman then painfully lauded, the Chicago Cubs—“you’ve taught me to always believe, dream and imagine the possibilities even though you keep finding ways to rip my heart out…”
Blackman sent Duffy a copy of the book and little did he know his first grade teacher also “bled Cubbie blue.”
Duffy read the “Thank you” section and then contacted Blackman. She told him they were going to a Cubs game, her treat—Duffy had access to box seats just a few rows from the field—and she would pick-up her former student in a limousine.
Blackman spoke of his excitement and surprise last week. Duffy, who is eagerly anticipating the game, said it’s all part of being a teacher in 1960s Lincolnwood. “At that time teachers became part of the family,” she said. Though it’s been a while, the two will certainly have catching up to do and maybe Blackman will let his teacher laugh at his former speech problem.