Monday, October 8, 2012

What did you do at school?

Yesterday, I was at a gathering where the meditation provided below was shared. It is about a local school district, Muskegon Heights, where many at the gathering volunteer their time and talents as a part of the Coalition for Community Development [CCD]. About a year ago, members of the CCD helped to open on closed elementary school library in the district (read about it here). They continue to work to re-open libraries in the district. Anyone who can help is encouraged to contact Kathleen Kleaveland by email at Thank you in advance for your support.

I Went to School
by Cindy Anderson

I went to school.

It was Tuesday.

Just a few miles away.

It looked like every school I’ve ever seen except for the litter scattered on the ground across the street --mostly beer bottles, cigarette packs and fast food wrappers.

I opened the door of the school and smiled.  It smelled like every school I’ve ever smelled; hints of floor polish, wet mittens, washed hands and a slight undertone of bananas.

It looked like every school I have ever seen; low drinking fountains, names on lockers, teacher made bulletin boards of dancing letters, banners on the walls encouraging team work and good behavior-- except this school did not have
an art room,
a music room,
a gym
or a library. 

I checked in at the office. 
The secretary was busy but welcoming, just like every secretary of every school I’ve ever entered. 
She graciously directed me to the appropriate classroom and wished me a good day. 

With excitement, I went to the kindergarten classroom, and met my first student. 
Just like every classroom I’ve entered in my life, the children were busy working-- except they were not working in centers.
They were not moving about the room. 
They couldn’t move about the room. 
There were 36 students in the kindergarten classroom. 
They were sitting very still in their tiny desks pushed closely together. 
There was a palpable feeling of pent-up energy. 

The beleaguered teacher smiled and introduced me to my student.

My student and I walked to our work spot down the hall.
His eyes sparkled and his energy pulsed.
He told me about his family
He wrote his name
He listened intently to a story I read.
He held my hand as we walked back to his class. 
He extracted a promise that I would come again.
I was in love.

I met my second student. 
Her skin was glowing. 
She had 48 barrettes in her braids—butterflies. 
She skipped when she walked and she giggled when she talked.   
She drew a picture of her family. 
She sang her ABCs
She listened intently as I read her a story.
She asked me to come back.
I was in love.

I met my third student. 
Her dimples bounced as the teacher called her name.
She told me all about her family.
She recited her ABCs .
She read her favorite words.
She listened intently as I read her a story.
She asked what day I was coming back.
I was in love.

I met my fourth student. 
He had braids all over his head and his nose was running a little. 
He walked slowly to our spot.
He didn’t want to talk about his family
He didn’t say his ABC’s
He didn’t write his name.
He listened intently to the story about a hippopotamus.
He asked questions about it.
We looked up hippos on my Ipad.
He picked up a piece of paper and drew a perfectly proportioned hippopotamus.
He did not ask when I was coming back.
He stayed outside his room for a long time before reentered.
I was in love.

I went to school.
Every week for the next thirty weeks.
We celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day and the onset of spring.

My students grew.
They told me more about their families.
They asked questions about my family
I knew when their dads had birthdays,
When their moms got new jobs,
When they visited their grandmas,
When their cousins came to play.
They began reading stories to me.
They beat me at games.
They told me Tuesday was their favorite day.

I was in love.

I was also sad.
The children never had gym.
They never had art.
They never had music.
I was sad and angry that we disadvantage this group of children because we do not give them the opportunities to develop as whole children. 

But they DID get a library.
An amazing group of volunteers created a library within the school..
The children had access to books and were thrilled.

The last day was hard.
I was sad.
I told them I would be back next year.

I went to school.
I went to school because children are my passion.
I went to school because I believe all kids are important.
I went to school because I believe kids do best when they feel loved.
I went to school because I wanted to make a difference.
I went to school because I wanted to teach.

I went to school and I learned.

I encourage you to
go to school

Or go wherever you have a passion
The prison
The shelter
The political office
The wetland
The nursing home.

Save the seals
Save a species
Build a library
Build a relationship
Build a more humane world.

You will make a difference
You will learn
You will be glad
You will be thankful.

I am
I am forever glad
I am forever thankful
I went to school.

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