I work at a high school in a small community. I do not live in the community, but commute there each day. The community, and the high school, is very diverse. Our high school is about half Mexican (the word they want to be used) and about half Caucasian. We also have a small amount of African-Americans. As an English teacher, this
There is a mandate from the federal government that we cannot "leave any child behind". What that means is that we must have ALL students proficient in reading by 2014.
That is nearly impossible when English is not the student's first language. It drives me crazy at times, trying to meet mandates but still respecting students backgrounds.
BUT TODAY we had a Community Service Day. Our high school went around the small town and cleaned, painted, hauled trash, and did generally whatever needed done.
The students (as in the entire school) mumbled and grumbled and moaned and groaned for two weeks thinking about this day. Then today, they worked like they were at a big party!
My group of 12 worked all afternoon for a little widow lady in town. Her yard had become overgrown after her husband died two years ago. I did not know her, nor did any of my students. The student's worked like they were working for their own favorite grandma.
My group was as diverse as the school. We had
(to use the student's terminology)
jocks, soc's, Mexicans, nerds, brainiacs,
quiet ones, extremely loud ones,
big ones, little ones,
guys and gals.
And they ALL worked together.
Our little lady had an arbor in her back yard. It was covered in Wisteria. When I say it was covered, I mean
it. was. covered.
As in it was SO covered you could not see any opening. It looked like a giant pile of out-of-control-growth.
The kids got busy tackling it. Inside the arbor we found patio furniture (held down by the wisteria growing through it!) and a wonderful brick floor.
The student's actually enjoyed themselves.
There were no problems.
There was no squabbling.
They worked together.
And after the arbor-cleaning, this is what we had.
Remember when we got there, you couldn't even tell there was anything inside the arbor. How cute is that little arbor now? (If you look closely you can see the brick floor.)
We did some other yard work, planted flowers, raked, shoveled, trimmed, worked in the garage, cleaned out her cellar, and fixed her hose and birdbath. After an hour there the students were finding things to do without being told.
Our little lady was gracious. She stayed outside the entire time visiting with the students.
And of course there was just some
during the afternoon too.
A few water-fights.
Some good 'ole mud.
But we worked together.
It is days like this that remind me of why
to be a teacher.
It makes me feel good
what can be done
if we really want to do something good.
As we all work together.
(blurred on purpose...so you could get the idea, but not the faces!)