Wednesday, January 5, 2022
A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses
The year was 1993 when Indian Trails Middle School in Seminole County opened its doors for the first time. Eric Wallman, interim dean, humanities, was in seventh grade, and his English teacher was Linda Goddard, visiting professor, English — a teacher he fondly remembered.
Fast forward 27 years to 2020 and pre-pandemic, Eric spotted Linda walking out of East Campus Building 4, recognized her and they had a brief but good conversation about that school year.
“It came to no surprise to see that Mrs. Goddard returned to teaching after retiring from public school,” Eric explained. “Being an educator is just part of her essence. She was so patient with us, so kind and she had a way of keeping us engaged through deep conversation as we explored themes, irony and metaphors … all that good stuff.”
Eric remembers the best part of Linda’s English class was reading stories.
“The darker stories stood out to me,” he shared. “‘Survive the Savage Sea’ was my favorite. It’s about a family shipwrecked by a pod of orca whales and having to survive for weeks off rainwater and the flying fish that jumped into their life raft. Another story involved ants devouring an entire village, like in the Amazon, while another story involved rats eating their way into a lighthouse.”
At an East Region Town Hall meeting in fall 2021, Eric used the “chat” feature to say hello to Linda.
“Hi Mrs. Goddard. I’m Eric Wallman. Remember me from seventh grade?”
His comment made all attendees smile and feel a sense of endearment and warmth. Two weeks later, they had a long phone conversation about his experiences in seventh grade English.
“Eric’s recognition of me and reconnecting after so many years has become a gift, a circuitous experience and stunning reminder that seventh grade is not when and where a child’s journey stops for their teachers. It can continue toward us, and, after a very long time, meet us in such remarkable ways. Thank you, Eric!,” Linda shared.