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Letters to the editor of the Globe Magazine

Readers write in about the Mary Lyon schools, learning an instrument in adulthood, and more.

Earning High Marks

Christopher Huffaker’s “Lessons From a Year That Wasn’t Lost” (October 2) is one of the best things I have ever read about education. All school administrators and members of school boards should see how things are done at the Mary Lyon schools. The focus is on how to help each student succeed, not on the impossible goal of having all of them meet some arbitrary standardized test measure. This is true for all students, not just those labeled as having special needs. It should be policy everywhere.

Tim Parker


School success for students with challenges is about leadership, culture, and staffing. There is enough staff for smaller classes, for phone calls to missing students throughout the day, for weekly professional development, for social workers to participate in Zoom classes and see which students need support. Wouldn’t it be nice if this were done [at more schools] regularly, instead of responding in a crisis? ... For the money spent per pupil in Boston, the Mary Lyon model of staff-to-student ratio and support services should be available to every student.



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My children attended Mary Lyon K-8, although both left after sixth grade to attend Boston Latin Academy and Boston Latin School. Each standard student was assigned a special needs student as a buddy. My kids, and the other students, never treated them differently. The Mary Lyon is a wonderful school and the education they got was outstanding. They are now in college and thriving. I attribute this to the foundation they received at the Mary Lyon, as well as the BLA and BLS structure. It’s interesting to note that in one son’s graduating class, 80 percent of the students went on to attend one of the three exam schools. This is with inclusion; BPS shows it can be done with dedicated teachers and proper thought.



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What an inspiring article—and written with such depth. One notable thing missing: the name Mary Lyon. Many readers may not know that she was the founder of Mount Holyoke College—the oldest women’s college (first as a seminary) in the country. Founded in 1837, Lyon’s mission was to educate “farmers’ daughters” as well as young women of privilege. That was revolutionary. At that time, educating women from any background was not common, so offering education to women from more modest backgrounds was astounding.

JM the JP

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Singing a New Tune

“Never Too Late” (October 16) was a great piece on learning new skills as an adult. I got a guitar at age 66 and for the first three months it was a struggle, part of learning. But, I had the attitude of an adult: calculating the learning curve, outcome, and cost benefits. Then, I tapped into my memory of learning tennis or bowling from my youth, the excitement of learning something new and the gradual improvement. Yes, it took hundreds of hours, too. If I keep this in mind, plus the benefits of brain health, as author David Bulley mentioned, it is worth my time in many ways. Someday, I’ll play Neil Young’s “Old Man.” But not yet.

Patrick Thibault

Willmar, Minnesota

Excellent to see words of encouragement for older musical learners. A wonderful book on the subject is Never Too Late: My Musical Life Story by John Holt, the homeschooling pioneer, who took up the cello as an adult.


Michal Truelsen


I’ve been playing guitar for 50 years, self-taught, in various bands. I recently took a few lessons online from a professional teacher, and it was amazing. It really exercised my brain and made me see the guitar in a completely new way.

Tim Casey

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When I turned 60, I started taking violin lessons. I sounded awful until I didn’t. I sometimes play with an amateur pianist or another violinist. And words can’t describe the amazing feeling when playing a simple version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Nice write-up and I hope Frank’s basement keeps busy.


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I had just restarted playing ukulele when the pandemic hit. I ended up playing daily—in online group lessons, Zoom meetups, and then with a fingerpicking group that continues to meet weekly on Zoom. I find myself smiling broadly every time. Music—especially music that can be played with others—is such a gift to ourselves at any age.


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Symbol of Strength

The inspiring, yet heartrending Connections “My Mother’s Hands” touched me deeply (October 16). Margaret Morganroth Gullette had a mother who showed love by doing loving things for her family—personal manicures for her daughter and steadfast, competent caring during her husband’s fatal illness. We need these capabilities of kindness in our leaders today. This is true strength and perseverance.


Debra Faust-Clancy


My mother, an Italian, apprenticed to a seamstress in Italy when she was 6 years old. Her sewing skills were just amazing. As a young child I remember going to sleep with the sound of the treadle sewing machine as she worked on clothes. Her farm household needed those beautiful, skillful hands for cooking and sewing for her family and friends. At 90 while in the nursing home, the one thing she asked for was her sewing machine. Her skilled hands were what I marveled at when I helped her cut material or thread her machine. She died at 91, the only resident in 25 years who ever had a sewing machine in her room. Getting older presents many challenges but gentle, giving hands are always remembered.

Delores Muggeo Larque


The day before my mother passed away, I cut and filed her nails, and massaged lotion into her frail, translucent hands. I remember her smiling, and thanking me before closing her eyes for a nap. It’s been eight years, and this memory still makes me tear up.


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