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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Gifted students visit with Mr. Al.

Gifted students visit with Mr. Al.

I tend to be an optimistic person. I look for the good in everyone and every day. But sometimes life has other plans. Sometimes we just have to weep.

On the day school started, August 7th, one of our gifted students collapsed. She died two days later. This was one of those girls who was always laughing. She had a cheerfulness about her that was contagious. At a friend’s house after a sleep-over (and probably lots of laughter), her heart stopped. No explanation. The doctors suspect that it was a syndrome that occurs in athletes. Lauralyn was a normal 12 year old girl. She was not on the basketball court. It doesn’t make any sense.

With my gifted colleagues, we attended the funeral home. Kids were all around in purple shirts and purple ribbons. Since purple was her favorite color, her school had decided that Friday would be a day dedicated to her memory. There was a banner draped over a table celebrating that Lauralyn’s organs had been donated.

In between the sadness, students found hope. Amidst the loss, there was a gift of life.

I started a blog on kidblogs for my students. For now it is private. (I would welcome connecting with other classes, though.) I’ve decided to post a quote of the week. My class theme is “Mrs. Simon’s Sea,” so I’m calling it “Snippets of the Sea.” Carol Varsalona’s inspirational images make great snippets. Last week I used the quote from E.B. White and this image Carol posted.

Childhood Wonder by @journeynorthed

Childhood Wonder by @journeynorthed

I think it is saying don’t ignore your curiosity. And to explore and discover new things. So if you go on a hike or a walk in the park try to look at the world around you. Most likely there are things you haven’t seen before. You just didn’t take the time to look. Like trees, flowers, and even places that you never even noticed were there!–Emily

This week I have posted this image by Carol along with a video of Michael Jackson at the 1993 Super Bowl singing “We are the World.”

We are the World

I’ve asked my students to write a response to the snippet in the comments. I want to be intentional in making my students think about wonder, hope, and kindness. We don’t know how long we are here on this earth. We should turn each day into the sparkle of a child’s eye, the hope in a rainbow, the kindness of a teacher’s smile.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round-up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Holly invites us to think about our spiritual journey. This week her theme could not have been more appropriate for the beginning of school, praying for our students.

Prayer is not enough. I am in no way discounting prayer. Sometimes it’s all you can do. But there are times when God calls on you to do more. This week was one of those times.

I don’t know why God chose me. I became the confidant of the mother of one of my students. Perhaps it was something I said in a conference with her. Perhaps it was her daughter’s trust in me. Maybe my phone number was the only teacher’s number she had. For whatever reason, I was the one who received her desperate call for help.

Many times over the course of the last few days, I have held my prayer hands pressed against my forehead. “God, give me your strength.”

Sometimes prayer is not enough.

This time I had to act. I had to turn to administrators, authorities, and counselors. I could not do this alone. I had to stay strong to tell her to stay strong. My precious student’s family was falling apart. It was not enough for me to pray. I held her tight. I helped her tell her classmates. I gave her someone to trust, someone to lean on, someone to be her advocate.

Jesus was called “teacher.” Teacher means more than educating a child. A teacher should be a stronghold for her students. She must create a safe environment. She should be open and flexible while respecting policy and authority.

Teaching is an act of the heart. My students become important in my life. Their families are important to me. Their lives are important.

In prayer, we can bring our students close to us, close to God. In action, we can express to each and every child that they matter, their lives matter. Our words should be carefully chosen, spoken with love and kindness. Because someday God may call us to action, to be His voice, and to save a child.

praying child

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SOL #10

SOL #10

 

wicked witch and hour glass

This post lifts a line from Greg Armamentos.  He wrote this most wonderfully expressed lament over PARCC testing.  

Before we jam thermometers

into students

to measure

their current temperature,

Before we dig up

the seed we planted

to see if it is growing,

We must set the timer,

But not any timer.

Computers must be off.

Cell phones must be locked up.

No ticks or rings.

No sound but the deep breaths

of our students in the pressure cooker.

The district gives permission, my pretty,

to use the Promethean timer.

Does the great and powerful district know

that the Smart board has no brains of its own,

let alone a heart?

–Margaret Simon

 

 

 

 

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Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Holly invites us to reflect on our spiritual journey every Thursday. This week’s theme is Forgiveness, but I am being one of those students who is writing off-topic.

I was reading with one of my students about Buddha. A woman whose child was dead came to him asking for a miracle. Buddha told her if she could find a house that death had not visited, he would save her child. Of course, this proved impossible. The woman accepted the child’s death and buried him.

Death affects us all. But a young vibrant girl should not have to face the death of her mother.

Yesterday I got the news that Emily’s mother had died suddenly and unexpectedly. Emily is a fourth grade student. She bounces into class. She hums songs all the time. She is full of life and joy. Emily should not have to face the death of her mother.

After I heard the news, I called Emily’s grandmother and gave her my cell number saying Emily could call me anytime. She did. It was good to hear her voice, but it was shaky and small and sad. I held back my tears, told her I loved her, and reminded her of Dot Day, the happy day we had together on Monday.

Later I called Healing House, a nonprofit organization that helps grieving children. What gentle calming voices! They told me they have a “koping kit” that they can drop off for us at the school. I talked to the director about how to tell my other students. She said to be as honest as possible. She also told me to allow them to come up with ways to comfort Emily.

My students are amazing; however, I don’t ever want to see those expressions again. Their eyes immediately shone with tears. Their mouths fell open. We talked, and I kept my own tears at bay. We decided they would write personal messages to Emily on our blog. On the post, I put a picture of Emily’s dot. One of the students brought up how happy we all were on Dot Day. I am grateful that I allowed them to have a day of pure creative fun.

These are some of their comments:

I am so sorry. We are crying tears for you. I hope to you see you soon. I am looking forward to cheering you up. I wish you and your family love and happiness. Hope you feel better. Kielan

I’ve gone through the same thing Emily. My grandfather died in 2012 and it took me a whole month to get over it. The whole GT class is worried for you. We hope you feel better real soon. Nigel

I do not know what the next few days or weeks will bring. None of us do. We will all experience tragedy as we all experience love and joy. My prayer for Emily is that she will become strong and resilient. She will be the best she can be. She will love life again and feel joy. For now, we will be present with her in her grief.

Emily dot

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