Wednesday, September 3, 2008

School Days

This is my third go-round teaching at our little school. Many years ago, the school needed a music teacher. Sister Josita pointed at me one day and said, "You can do that." Even though I protested to her that I don't have a music degree, I did it. Because she said so.

So, for three years, I tried to teach music, put on the Christmas and spring concerts and prayed for someone else to take my place. That prayer was answered in the form of a lovely young woman, Kim, who had a music degree and a husband who had just been hired as the band director in a nearby town. She was terrific, and even started a band at St. A. (But then, her sister and brother-in-law were killed in an accident, and she and her husband moved back to Michigan to help raise their children. See, I told you she was terrific.)

A few years ago, they needed a volunteer to teach art to the upper grades -- 6, 7, and 8. As I love all things artsy, I said I would do it. But do you know what you call teaching art at the end of the school day to adolescents who would rather be doing anything else? A nightmare. I loved those kids, and stuck it out for the whole year, but begged off for the next.

So now, I am the kindergarten aide. It may be the most difficult of all. Not a nightmare, just draining. So many little people. So many little voices and opinions. So many little hands that just can't seem not to touch the other little people.

Some are already fluent in the kindergarten basics -- ABC's colors, numbers.
Others are not quite fluent in English.
Some cry when they are disciplined (which in this class means you have to change the color of card in your name pocket -- from green to red to yellow and so on -- and may not get a sticker at the end of the day, therefore not earning a treat at the end of the week. Rough.)
Some could care less if they end up with a black card at the end of the day.

But I love them all, from the sweet beribboned little girls who hug me every morning, to the angry little one who yells at us (but who took a moment to look down my dress this morning).
From the boys jockeying to be king of the playground to our sweet chubby friend who lights up the room when he smiles but is lazy as the day is long --as Sharon says, if he wasn't so lovable, she'd have to bean him! (Sister AR took him to the mattresses today at lunch and made him cry, which almost made me cry, especially when he said, "Mrs. Racoons, please don't go home this afternoon -- stay with me." But I watched, and he seemed to be having a heck of a good time at recess; I hope, hope, hope he has a good and productive afternoon, but I'm not holding my breath.)

Every day is getting a little better -- they are learning how to "do school," becoming friends and having fun. Sharon is figuring out how to deal with so many, and all the diversities therein -- she's had to change up how she does things, and it seems to be working. It's going to be a long year, (16 days down, 164 to go) but I feel very blessed to be a little part of the days of these little people.


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