By Richard Higgins, Globe Correspondents, 04/11/99
People in Wellesley remember Bob Blue as an elementary teacher with unusual gifts, primarily the songwriting and musical talents he used to teach subjects such as math and grammar. At 2 p.m. today at Wellesley High School, those gifts and another of Blue's - courage - will be celebrated at a documentary film premiere and concert in his honor. Blue, 50, a former resident of Wellesley and Newton, and founder of the Children's Music Network, taught second and third grades at Wellesley's Hunnewell and Schofield elementary schools for 20 years. He developed multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nerve and muscle disease, in his 40s, and was forced to retire in 1994.
Blue has moved to Amherst and continues to write songs and work with
children. As a part-time volunteer teacher, Blue "adopted'' a
kindergarten class in Amherst in 1994 and has followed the children up through the grades, working with them in school nearly every day. The documentary, "What Matters,'' explores how Blue used music and humor in his classroom both to teach subjects and social justice, as well as to build a sense of community, one of its producers, Ann Morse of Arlington, said last week.
In the documentary, Blue talks about his inspirational philosophy and his struggle to come to terms with his disability. The film has another local connection in that it is narrated by 11-year-old Cate Levin of Newton, who also sings a song Blue wrote, "Courage,'' with Roslindale artist Dean Stevens on the guitar.
"Teachers and parents can learn much from this gentle man about working
with children and about facing adversity," Morse said.
The 45-minute video in the Wellesley High School Audiorium, which includes an interview with Pete Seeger, will be followed by a concert, whose performers will include Stevens, Martha Leader of Brookline and Joanne Hammill of Watertown.