Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tie Game Mrs. Clinton Finds Good Philosophical Fit at School

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tie Game Mrs. Clinton Finds Good Philosophical Fit at School

Article excerpt

When Hillary Rodham Clinton walked into Clark Accelerated School on Friday and saw kindergartners learning to tie their shoes, she let out a chuckle.

Shoe-tying, she explained later, set off her first conflict with her late mother-in-law, Virginia Kelley. "It has been a pet belief of mine that tying shoes is a necessary skill for a child," Mrs. Clinton said. "It teaches the fine motor skills."

When the Clintons' daughter, Chelsea, had trouble tying her shoes, her grandmother bought the child new ones with Velcro straps.

Kelley's reasoning? " `She ought to be out playing,' " recalled Mrs. Clinton, playfully imitating her mother-in-law's southern accent.

Nodding at the teachers, Mrs. Clinton quipped, "You all have validated me." Looking up at the classroom's ceiling toward heaven, she added: "Virginia, I hope you see this."

Mrs. Clinton extols the virtues of shoe-tying, among other skills, in her best-selling book, "It Takes a Village, and Other Lessons Children Teach Us."

Her point, in the book and during Friday's visit, is that many people - including teachers, neighbors, pastors and business leaders - are needed to raise a child well. That includes teaching the finer points of how to tie shoes.

"We may not live in a small village anymore, but we ought to act like we are," Mrs. Clinton said, as she concluded a panel discussion with representatives of the Mentor St. Louis Program.

The program began this year, with the financial help of Jerome and Susan Schlichter. It matches volunteers with kindergartners at four elementary schools, including Clark. The aim is to expand the program so that the mentors stick with their assigned children through elementary school, and perhaps beyond. Fourteen churches and two synagogues provide many of the mentors.

"Your concept of `It Takes A Village' is represented by this table," said Linda Riekes, an administrator of the mentor program.

The mentors help the children learn skills, but several said their primary function is to make the children feel cared for. Observed Mrs. Clinton: "Every child needs somebody who is crazy about them."

After visiting the school, Mrs. Clinton shook hands and spoke with about 1,400 people at Library Ltd. …

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