The producer I have been talking with asked me to write a summary for him. So I wrote this and sent antoher vid. (of the school and the family) Let me know what you think!
I wanted to weave this story for you like a beautiful tapestry, because it has so many interesting threads, any of which perhaps would make an interesting angle for the show. There is so much to say, so I will try to keep it as brief as possible. This has been such a year for miracles for me. I am eager to share my appreciation and gratitude.
Let me begin with my story, because I am an expert at that one! ; > )
I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2000, and it took several years to find the right "cocktail" to allow me to manage the condition. During that period, I was taking some pretty heavy duty drugs, and I had some really really interesting experiences. So, one might say they were drug induced states of being, and they might be right. But they were extremely transformative, and have served as turning points for me. I can't say a second chance, because I have had so many "second chances". I have opened myself up to limitless possibilities because of these encounters, and my life has had a certain sense of "magic", you might say.
During these physical challenges, my resolve not to define myself by any disability was intense, and I was resolute that I would live my life, however it might manifest, with passion and purpose.
In October of 2004, I was contacted by one of the producers of The Oprah Winfrey Show. I was sloshing around on a Friday night in a hot bath, when my daughter told me it was someone from Harpo. I immediately thought it was my friend Chaz playing a joke on me. But it reallY WAS a producer from Oprah. Caroline asked me what I wanted people across the country to know about what teachers and students face everyday.
Well, I tried not to slosh too much, and figured I would speak from my own experience, for, as I said earlier, that's the one thing I am an expert in!
I told her that children need to have their basic needs met before they can learn. They need to have food security, housing and a loving family. That every time you read about a crime in the paper, a child was involved. They either witnessed it, were a victim, or someone in their family committed it and they were crying in my office because they couldn't do their math test because they were afraid that Uncle John would get the death penalty for killing the neighbor.
I was invited to the show, and invited my best girlfriend, who also was a teacher. We didn't know it, but it was Oprah's Favorite Things for teachers on November 20, 2004.
So many wonderful things happened because of that show....
Fast forward to this year. I have been teaching for 32 years, and 25 of those I was a classroom teacher. I was offered a job as a Student Support Leader in 1999. I am a teacher who offers skills and strategies in order to help students in emotional turmoil deal with any issues keeping them from experiencing academic success. I see every class every week for 1/2 hour at a time, and teach Illinois State Standards and Benchmarks involving social and emotional learning. I have been doing this for 7 years. I am passionate about helping children. That's why Oprah is my hero. She overcame so much, and many of these children face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. And Ty, too. He represents the best of all of those children struggling with ADHD. He is a hero, too.
As part of my job, I helped develop and perform lessons and school assemblies about violence and drug prevention called "Tucker Tours" Tucker is a golden retriever, and I wrote and sang songs to support the lessons I was trying to teach. It was really effective, and so I recorded and produced 2 children's cd's.
I have also written 2 books (not published) about my experiences with children.
For several years, I filled my personal journals with songs of all kinds. As a matter of fact, each chapter in one of my books has an accompanying song. I wrote lots of songs for lots of kids.
One night, I had a dream about John Lennon. He was singing to me. I woke up and recorded the song into a little tape recorder I kept by my bed (I dream a lot of songs) I posted it to my myspace video page and Yoko liked it. We wrote back and forth a bit, and she really liked the work I was doing at school. I wasn't sure it was her at first, but as I said on the phone, she granted me copyright to IMAGINE for our Iles Writer's Conference. I knew it was her when I received the letter from her lawyers.
If you check out my myspace, youtube and school web pages, you can view many of the videos and other projects we have been doing. (actually you can google SHerry Frachey and get a lot of info)
I also began a correspondence with John Ondrasik from Five for Fighting. (his mom is a music teacher)
Because of our O Ambassador projects and my web postings, authors and artists from all over the world have been drawn to Iles School
In August of 2008, Dan and I were vacationing in Southern Illinois, when I was violently thrown from a horse. I broke my collar bone, my should blade, all of the ribs on my left side and punctured my lung. My doctors said I was lucky to be alive. I was in intensive care for 2 days, and the hospital for 5. Yet one week after the accident I was back at rehearsal for "Camelot". I had been cast as Nimue and didn't want to let the cast down. (it was the most moving standing ovation I ever received!) and 4 weeks later I was back at school. I felt so much love from my school community. It was like "It's A Wonderful Life'. There was an extreme outpouring of prayers, love and support. My surgeon wanted to rebuild my left shoulder, but I decided against it. I was slowly regaining use, and the surgery was expensive and risky. So, now I have a valid excuse why my head is not on straight!! I firmly believe that it was the love and prayers of those kids and their families that allowed me to heal completely.
So, if you look on our school page, you can read about the school and some of the programs. But the most amazing thing about the school is the students!!
And Sammy is one of those. I have learned that each day is a gift. I pray the same prayer every morning. Gratitude and appreciation for the day, and ask God to please make me someone's miracle. I figure that so many people pray for a miracle, but how many pray that they can be the ANSWER to someone's prayer? That practice has proven extremely interesting!! So, by now, I think you get the picture that my life has recently been an interesting tapestry of serendipitous events.
Sammy's teacher asked me to speak to him the same day that I received an email about Extreme Makeovers Home edition looking for Illinois families. She said she believed that the family lost their housing because of the storms that had passed through.
I have enough good sense to listen when things like that are presented to me! So, there you go....that is the long and the short of it. There is A LOT more to tell, but I think this will give you a rough idea of what seems to be happening here.....
I hope you received the video of the school and family I sent today. Please feel free to call anytime. Let me know if you need more information.
In any case, it has been such a pleasant experience chatting with you and I wish you all the best!
Thank you for considering this family!