Giving Thanks | Personal Messages from Our Team (Part 2)

Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go!

Enjoy part two of our special, and very personal message of thanks, and know we are all very thankful for you, too!.

From Michelle Condon, Chief Financial Officer

This year I am so thankful for all of my families….yes, all of them! My real family, my church family, my family of good friends, and my work family. I’m especially glad that I get to come to work every day with people who are passionate about what they do; strengthening our education system and supporting teachers and students in the journey towards college and career readiness.


From John Richey, Leadership Consultant for A+ College Ready

I am thankful that as I enter schools across our great state that I am greeted by administrators and teachers committed to academic improvement. From Ragland to Robertsdale, there are outstanding educators in Alabama that are driven to enhance the services they provide to students in hopes of a brighter future for us all. I am truly grateful to be a small part of an organization whose goal is to make a lasting positive difference in our society. I am eternally thankful for my faith, family, and friends that continue to provide hope and inspiration. I am also hopeful that we our future is brighter than our past and better days lie ahead for each and everyone of us.

From LeeAnn Latta, Math Content Director for A+ College Ready

This Thanksgiving, I am first of all thankful to God for His faithfulness, mercy, grace, and love. I am thankful for my family whom I love with all my heart. I am grateful to those that first gave me the opportunity to be a teacher and the students that, although they didn’t really have a choice, allowed me to be their teacher. I am thankful for the teachers and students that now allow me to come into their classrooms and provide support. To my A+ family, thank you for believing in me, challenging me, helping me to grow, and allowing me to work with such a fabulous group of educators and staff!

From Jackie Walsh, Primary Consultant for the Alabama Best Practices Center

Thanksgiving is a special time to remember family and friends who are no longer with me, loved ones with whom I’ve celebrated so many blessings over the years. I am grateful to have grown up in a family of educators who inspired me to enter a profession that continues to provide amazing opportunities to learn, grow, contribute, and connect with talented, committed professionals across our state and nation. I feel very blessed to be associated with A+ and the Alabama Best Practices Center, through which I’ve had the chance to do important work and develop special friendships with so many Alabama educators. I’m thankful for good health and the opportunity to celebrate this Thanksgiving with my children and grandchildren who provide so much joy and remind me of why our work as educators is vital if all children are to receive their full measure of life’s blessings.

From Dale Fleury, Social Studies Content Director for A+ College Ready

In culture and throughout history, the Thanksgiving tradition, celebrated and recognized across our wonderful country, is also recognized and practiced in various countries throughout the world. Here are a few examples.

You might remember from your history that about half of the Pilgrims who came to America aboard the Mayflower were from the Netherlands. From 1609 to 1620, many of the people known as the Pilgrims had resided in Leiden. In 1620, they left from Leiden to Southampton, England. The passengers moved over to the Mayflower, and from there set upon their voyage to America. Today, the Dutch celebrate the good fortunes of the Pilgrims by gathering in a 900-year old church known as Pieterskerk. Afterwards, many dine on “stamppot”, a dish of mashed potatoes and kale.

In China Thanksgiving is known as the “August Moon” festival that falls on the 15th day of 8th lunar month of their calendar. Chinese believe that the moon is roundest and brightest on this day. Below the heavenly moonlight, lovers speak out their heart to each other. Instead of pumpkin pie, friends and relatives convey their regard to each other by gifting moon cake. Moon cakes are round pastries with a rich thick filling usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste is surrounded by a thin crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs.

Germans celebrate “Erntedankfest” as a religious holiday that takes place on the first Sunday of October. It is essentially a harvest festival that gives thanks for a good year and good fortune. In rural areas, the harvest aspect is taken very seriously, but churches in cities also hold festivities. This might include a procession where one wears Erntekrone, a harvest crown made of grain, flowers, and fruit. While Americans love turkey, Germans prefer fattened up chickens, roosters, and geese.

A variation on America’s Thanksgiving can be found in the West African nation of Liberia, which was founded in the 19th century by freed slaves from the U.S. Liberians take the concept of the cornucopia and fill their churches with baskets of local fruits like bananas, papayas, mangoes, and pineapples. An auction for these is held after the service, and then families retreat to their homes to feast. Concerts and dancing have evolved as a distinctive part of Liberia’s Thanksgiving celebration.

So as we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States with our unique culture and traditions, let us forever be thankful for the wonderful diversity of the world around us and the bounties of this earth that bring us together in so many ways. Take a moment to be thankful for the many blessings we receive as a country, but also give thanks to our brothers and sisters around the world who join us in the desire for world peace, human rights, and the dignity and respect to every human being.

See Part 1 of Giving Thanks