Jerry Kreinik–engineer, manufacturer, company founder–has never really retired, even though he is well into his 90s. For at least two hours every day, he can still be found working in his office at Kreinik Manufacturing Company (founded with his wife, Estelle, back in the early 1970s). For 10+ years, he could also be found spending afternoons reading and stitching with children at a local elementary school.
From 1993 until 2004, Jerry read to 5th grade students every week during the school year. “At first it was an hour every week,” Jerry says, “but then the principal made it a half-hour.” Jerry still made good use of his time: he picked out books to read to the kids (they loved adventure stories and “anything scary”), and once a month he would show hand-stitched bookmarks or even do a needlework bookmark project with them.
“I would read a book that would show them what boys and girls were doing as hobbies. Then I showed them how to make bookmarks for the books they were reading,” Jerry says. For this age group, he found plastic canvas to be an easy medium, and of course they loved the sparkly Kreinik threads. “I gave them yarn and patterns, but the most important thing was how to thread a needle–most of them had never done that. Most of them didn’t know how to stitch at all. They learned quickly, though, and they were very good.”
Jerry says that boys were often more enthusiastic than girls when it came to stitching. One year a group of boys stitched bookmarks and sold them as fundraisers. Another boy took his mom to the local needlework shop right away because he loved stitching so much. Jerry loved those years reading to children and exposing them to needlework. The needlework would teach them counting techniques, he said, and he also used reading to help their verbal and reading skills. “Sometimes I would call upon kids to read aloud with me. One year, out of 24 kids, 12 of them couldn’t read very well at all. At the end of the year, all but 2 had become excellent readers,” Jerry adds. You can tell he is proud of the “footprint” he may have left on their lives. “After I stopped,” Jerry remembers, “I got very nice cards and letters thanking me for reading to them.”
Does this make you want to visit a school and arrange to read and stitch with kids every week? How about with Girl Scouts or an after-school program? You could, you know. If you’d like to, but aren’t sure how to get started, contact me, and I’ll try to help.
Many thanks to Dena Lenham at Kreinik for this post.
Categories: Needle and ThREAD