My Thursday mornings give me purpose and joy when I get to touch the life of a young student. I tutor one-on-one in the reading clinic at the neighborhood elementary school. This week third graders had their Black History Month projects on display in the lobby . Using materials and objects found at home, they created a poster and a model of a famous African American assigned to them. Their creativity astonished visitors as well as faculty and staff.
But today was Read-to-Me Day at the elementary school , so I took some of my favorite children’s books from my stash and headed to school. Yesterday was actually Read Across America, but our reading volunteers were asked to come today.
I read to a 2nd grade class who want me to come back and read more! Music to any teachers ears.
And then I read to a 4th grade class. As soon as I walked in I heard whispers, “Rosa Parks”! I saved this book for an older group because if you don’t understand the context and the history of the ’50s, you don’t really get the importance of Rosa Parks’ actions.
Eager faces focused on the pictures and the words, and then came the questions. Curious, insightful, puzzled. Explaining those times even when I lived them just don’t make sense. When I told them the schools I attended had no black people in them, I could see them trying to process such a strange idea. Then a young African American boy asked, “Were there any Hispanics?” And I replied, “No”.
I looked into classroom of primarily African American and Hispanic faces. And the questions did not get easier.
“What is lynching?” Oh, that’s even harder to explain.
After answering as many questions as I could, I closed my book and stood as they applauded! Polite and eager 4th graders made my day!
And the added benefit? I signed out in the office and walked out to my car. This is teaching at its finest!
Today I am thankful for
- an elementary school full of children and staff engaged in teaching and learning
- the opportunities of tutoring in a well-organized Reading Clinic using a thoughtful process for helping readers catch up.
- excellent authors and illustrators children’s books