THE MATTOON FAMILY: YMCA EARLY EDUCATORS HELP TO MAKE A CONNECTION FOR A MILITARY FAMILY
Our teachers exhibit kindness every single day. When Ms. April, Ms. Ashley and Ms. Erica from the White Tail Classroom at our Early Education Center received an email from a Dad whose daughter is enrolled in our Early Education Center, we had to learn more.
Below is his initial email, following that is a story that ran in today’s Nashua Telegraph.
I hope this email finds you well. I am Mia Mattoon’s father. I am an active duty service member currently stationed in South Korea for a year, missing my daughter every second of the day. I am thrilled that Mia has started this year in your class. As we FaceTime almost every day, I have never seen her so excited to go to school. I am thrilled to read some of the class introduction information that you have sent out, and I am extremely happy thus far with what I see and how you have structured the curriculum.
I was excited to see that you have read the book The Kissing Hand. My mother is a retired educator (Kindergarten/1st grade) and has read that to Mia before. More importantly, I love the homework assignment that you sent home for construction of a kissing hand and the symbolism you are using it for.
Being so far away, I thought I would construct my own kissing hand that symbolizes the distance between Mia and myself and let her know that daddy misses her every minute of the day and she can look at it and know that daddy is there in her heart.
I hope this email is not too much, but I would love it if you could print the attached kissing hand for the board as a surprise to Mia for me all the way from Korea.
The attached Kissing hand symbolizes the divide between Daddy being in Korea with half of the hand a South Korean flag and the other half her being in the US with our flag. The center heart brings us together and is camouflage because daddy is apart because he is in the Army.
If this is too much I understand. I thank you all for what you do for the children, especially during these unforeseen times. I look forward to the growth Mia will have with you guiding her during this year. Challenge her and let me know if there is anything I can do from this distance.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this email.
U.S. Military Sgt. Shares ‘Artwork’ with Daughter
By George Pelletier – Milford Bureau Chief | Nov 14, 2020
YMCA student Mia Mattoon and her teachers (l-r) Ashley Bangs, Erica Bourque and April Hines.
NASHUA – Stationed at Camp Humphries in South Korean since January 6, 2020, staff sergeant Craig Mattoon has been corresponding with The Telegraph, since he sent his young daughter a piece of artwork – a trace of his hand – for her art project at the Merrimack YMCA.
Mattoon said that he is promotable to the rank of sergeant first class, which he hopes will happen on Dec. 1. He said he hopes to be home in Jan. 2021.
“Two months and counting,” he said. “In addition to being away for this last year, I have technically been separated from my family for a total of three years.”
Both Mattoon’s wife Nicole and he are Active Duty Service Members serving in the Army. They have both were stationed together up until approximately three years ago.
“We were stationed at Fort Knox, KY when Nicole came down on orders to become an Army Recruiter,” Mattoon said. “Once that happened, she received orders to the Lowell, Massachusetts Recruiting station and then later this year to the Amherst, New Hampshire Recruiting Station.”
With Nicole fulfilling the new orders and Mattoon doing the same, it split his family geographically.
“For the first two years prior to my orders to Korea, I was able to see them once every couple of months if it did not interfere with training exercises and all holidays,” he said, “So the short of it is that we have been geographically separated for three years but I have not been able to see them for a year.”
When his daughter Mia started new school after moving to New Hampshire, she was enrolled at pre-school at the Merrimack YMCA.
Her teachers sent home a homework assignment that Mattoon found out about.
“I wanted this to be a total surprise for Mia so I did not ask my Nicole for any help,” Mattoon shared. “I took a shot and found the email to the teachers at the preschool and sent an email and they made it happen. I can’t say enough great things about the teachers and staff at the YMCA in Merrimack. They are complete professionals, even through these extremely tough times.”
In his email, Mattoon introduced himself and explained how much he missed his daughter.
“I am thrilled that Mia has started this year in your class,” he wrote. “As we FaceTime almost every day, I have never seen her so excited to go to school. I am thrilled to read some of the class introduction information that you have sent out, and I am extremely happy thus far with what I see and how you have structured the curriculum.”
Mattoon wrote that he was excited to see that the teachers were sharing the book, “The Kissing Hand,” as his mother is a retired kindergarten/first grade teacher and had read that book to Mia before.
“More importantly, I love the homework assignment that you sent home for construction of a kissing hand and the symbolism you are using it for,” Mattoon wrote to the teachers.
Being so far away, Mattoon thought he would construct his own kissing hand tracing, that symbolized the distance between Mia and he and to let her know that her “daddy misses her every minute of the day and she can look at it and know that daddy is there in her heart.”
“The attached kissing hand symbolizes the divide between Daddy being in Korea with half of the hand a South Korean flag and the other half her being in the US with our flag,” he wrote. “The center heart brings us together and is camouflage because daddy is apart because he is in the Army.”
In his email to the teachers, Mattoon stressed his thanks for what they do, not just for Mia, but for all the children during the mayhem of the pandemic.
“I hope that explains why I sent it,” he told The Telegraph. “I really wanted Mia to know that daddy is always thinking about her even if I am across that world. Sometimes at 4 years old, she doesn’t fully comprehend (in the beginning more than now) what is going on and why I am not there, but when she looks at that hand on the wall, she knows daddy is there in spirit and she is in my heart.”
Mattoon, originally from New Jersey, said he comes from a close-knit family and with Mia growing up so fast, he misses seeing her on a day-to-day basis. Hopefully in January, that will change.
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