Westward Movement

Monday, February 13, 2012


I began this blog with the intent to focus only on my kids and not to allow school business that has nothing to do with children to color my entries. I'd be remiss, however, if I didn't mention that my school is undergoing tremendous transition. After 20 years, I find myself making choices I didn't plan on just yet. After 20 years, my philosophy and that of my school no longer align. After 20 years, I'm looking at the next 20 (or so) through a very different lens. And, while change is hard, it's also exciting. My next blog site will certainly follow a different slant. Stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile, it's all about the kids. For several years prior to this one, my students wrote weekly letters in response to self-selected literature. This year, as referred to in previous posts, my students are writing weekly responses to prompts of varied genres. Some weeks, the writing is just plain great, others I know I didn't give enough support and guidance, and on occasion, my kids bring me to tears. This was one of those weeks. Pardon the length of this post, but I'd like to share three of those journal entries.

My kids were asked to write about a hero in their lives. A few wrote about famous figures - MLK, Jr., Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi - and most wrote about their fathers or mothers. 

L, a funny, funny boy, wrote eloquently about both parents. They are marvelous - supportive, kind, understanding, tough. "We all love each other. They are the reason I am working hard for an exceptional life. They need money. That's another reason. We need a house and when I am older, I will help them find one." These words demonstrate L's maturity and grasp of quite adult matters. "My parents care for me and I care for them. They are like Barney. They're kind, caring, loving and protective, but they're not as fat." These words ... well, need I say more!? I laughed out loud.

B has not yet been featured in my blog posts. She's a beautiful 5th grader who has worked hard and made such tremendous progress in all academic and social areas. Her dad, released just six weeks ago, has been in prison most of her life. The little bit of time he's been out since she's been my student has made a noticeable difference. He helps her with her journal entries, and I know he helped her with this one, but the content is all B. Little pieces:
"I would like to write about my hero. Although he doesn't have super powers, he has a super heart."
"My daddy is always giving me ideas on what careers would be nice for me to study. One of the ideas he gave me is to study law. He has also mentioned to consider architectural work."
"Last, but not least, my daddy is my hero because even though he has been back and forth lately, every time he comes back from his trips, he shows me how much he loves me. I love him because he doesn't have to say that he cares about me because he is always showing me."
Finally, again I share T with you. Bright, beautiful, full of spunk T. She, and others like her, remind me over and over again why I love what I do. She, and others like her, make the idea of big changes to come form lumps in my throat. Pardon the length - her entire essay must be shared.
"My hero ... is ... Ms. Stern. She is my hero because she has supported me for 2 and counting years. Ms. Stern is a person you can trust with secrets. She makes you feel welcomed. She is always giving me hints to write better. She loves to hear your opinion. Sometimes I feel that Ms. Stern is another person I can trust. She is a happy and calm person but becomes aggravated when you mess up. I think she thinks that all of us have a future and in her eyes sees us graduated.

My second hero is my mom. My mom is my hero because even though sometimes it seems she has failed, it turned out she succeeded. She is a mother who has to take care of me by herself. She also never gives up for me or her. She says she is the future of this family because my dad left me. I love that she is always defending me and talking to me.

My other heroes are my class. They are my heroes because they treat each other like family. We are any normal family. We fight, make up, and then we're best friends again. They have taught me that anyone can be my family member, it does not have to be blood. They are the best little brothers and sisters I've ever had. Each one of them is a mystery I have to crack. All of them teach me new things like how to share, how to love, and much more because I am an only child. They make me feel so welcomed that sometimes I do not want to leave. I hate that I will leave them this year. 

P.S. Ms. Stern, when I wrote this I was sobbing so hard my mom asked what happened."

How honored I am to be a part of these lives. Thank you for letting me share.

1 comment:

  1. okay...this makes me cry. How fortunate you are to have the opportunity to influence a life in this way and how fortunate you are you get to experience the results of that influence. As you know, our life experiences aren't always this way. Sometimes we never know how we have positively (or negatively) influenced a life. That's where "faith" comes into play. Do what you do best AND where life leads, Debbie Stern, will ALWAYS make a difference.