Jenny & Rachel PIE
UU Church Today, Practice & Voice

The Parable of Mathilda

The timing was perfect. All Souls member Jenny Clyde had not realized that staying home with an infant would leave her starved for adult conversation and an outlet to use the skills she had honed in her 20-plus-year career in education. She had not realized how easy it was to lose herself in motherhood, which she had waited until the age of 46 to begin. She had resigned from her teaching job to stay at home full time and had given her heart to her infant daughter, “Tilda.” She hadn’t anticipated how isolated she would feel. One Sunday, eight years ago, Jenny attended service at All Souls and Rev. Marlin Lavanhar told a parable about finding one’s identity.  

Connecting the heart with service 

“It was a story about a deer in the forest who had lost its sense of smell and because of that, had lost its sense of self. I strongly identified with the deer,” Jenny said. While in the service, she saw an announcement that Partners in Education (PIE) needed volunteers. Still thinking about the sermon, she walked out of the Sanctuary and into Emerson Hall where a volunteer fair was being held. PIE’s table was staffed by Nancy McDonald who has been the backbone of PIE for as long as anyone can remember.  

“I signed up to be a Classroom Helper at Gilcrease Elementary and I put Tilda in a Moms’ Day Out program twice a week,” Jenny said. A year later, she became a Reading Buddy at Unity Learning Academy, and a year after that, she was invited to join the PIE committee where she has served as the liaison between Unity and PIE for six years.  

“When I go out to Unity, they’re really excited to see me. My volunteer work there combines all the best parts of teaching without the all the hassles. When I taught, I was never that great at classroom management and I never have to do that as a volunteer,” Jenny said. 

In addition to being a Reading Buddy for two children, Jenny works closely with the principal and teachers at Unity to coordinate their needs with PIE volunteers and resources. “PIE furnished Jackson with equipment for the track team and the bike club, cupcakes for dance parties that reward kids’ good attendance, and sweatshirts to prepare for the first cold front, ” Jenny said. 

Support PIE at their annual FUN-raiser, Sing for Our Schoolson Saturday, February 2, 2019. 

Getting to Know People through Service 

Jenny recruits, trains, and keeps tabs on the 20+ PIE volunteers at Unity and reports back to the PIE committee. As for the infant Tilda, she is now eight-years-old and often attends monthly Family Dinners at Unity with Jenny. Usually, rather than playing it safe and sitting with her mom, she sits with families that have little girls her age, something Jenny speaks of with pride.  

“Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand people who aren’t like us. When I just sit down and have dinner with people and talk to them, I realize we have a lot in common,” Jenny said. 

Getting it Right 

Eight years ago, the infant Tilda unknowingly jump-started Jenny’s need for more time with adults. Marlin Lavanhar unknowingly told Jenny’s story in a parable about a deer. Nancy McDonald placed Jenny in a volunteer role that perfectly used her talents and experience.

Because of her daughter Tilda, a new story was told, one of acknowledging pain and transforming it into love, something All Souls tries to do every day.  

One Sunday, everyone got it right, and today the result ripples through PIE’s partner schools and into the community beyond.   

Jenny’s story is just one story of the impact Partners In Education has in fulfilling the lives of PIE volunteers and the scope of impact of PIE’s three partner schools, Unity Learning Academy, Gilcrease Elementary, and McLain 7th Grade Academy. The cover photo is of Jenny and her Reading Buddy, Rachel.

Support PIE at their annual FUN-raiser, Sing for Our Schoolson Saturday, February 2, 2019. 

Sing for Our Schools is a toe-tapping sing along fun-fest where you and the audience are the stars! Although some of our song leaders are well-known Tulsa performers, (uh-hum, Rebecca Ungerman, Thomas Williams, Rebecca Marks Jimerson) they take a back seat to audience members whose enthusiasm is enhanced with adult beverages and light snacks.

Want to know more? Check out 10 Things to Know about PIE!



  1. Gilcrease Kids Slide Into Third…and Fourth - BeyondBelief

    […] Partners In Education has a far-reaching impact on our community and for the PIE volunteers who work with the schools through PIE’s many programs. Read more from Sallie about how PIE helped one mother regain her identity in The Parable of Mathilda. […]

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