Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes is the gift that keeps on giving – The Athletic

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Like many in the American Northeast, John and Barbara McGuinness retired to Florida. They had been high school sweethearts, eventually getting married in Pawtucket, R.I., in May 1962. John was an electric and utilities worker, Barbara became a teacher. They lived in various cities across the region, including Longmeadow, Mass., for 30 years. At some point, the seasons lose their charm.

They moved to Lauderdale by the Sea, but Barbara found retirement wasn’t “all that it was cracked up to be.” A teacher for 24 years back home, she decided to become a substitute teacher. In 2017, she spent some time at Nova Southeastern University School in Fort Lauderdale — colloquially known in the area as U School. The following January, when a teacher switched assignments, Barbara got a class of her own, Grade 10 English, for a whole semester.

In February 2018, John McGuinness died. Barbara had to step away from the class she had been teaching for only a month. She had been with John for 60 years; she barely knew these students. She set aside some assignments for them in her absence. When she was ready, she would start marking some at home, and, eventually, would return to the classroom.

When she began with the grading, she noticed that one student would always write a note for her on his work. Sometimes it was just a heart. Sometimes it was, “Thinking about you.” When she returned to class, she explained what had kept her away, and the messages from the student kept coming: two or three hearts, or a few words of encouragement.

“You can’t imagine how it made me feel every day,” McGuinness, now a teacher’s assistant at U School, recalled over the phone last week. “You can’t imagine what it was like to come home at night, correct those papers and see a couple of hearts and ‘hope you’re well’ and those sorts of things.