Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.- Nelson Mandela
The arctic-spell that shut down much of the Midwest has come to an end. Now the city is a large puddle as the weather rose above freezing and snow turned to rain. Cabin fever was getting to me and though my two and a half winter break was relaxing and full of friendly, lovely and familiar faces I was ready to go back into my routine. I work in a school now. Which is slightly funny to me because, well, I never really loved children. Of course I did at the age of twelve when every adolescent Christian girl is now old enough to be a Sunday school teacher and baby sit while all the parents go off to their small groups. I am sure my dislike for them blossomed out of children coming into Victoria’s Secret and destroying the tables of underwear I had so perfectly folded. I know once I became a manager my heart sank a little when a child came into my store because they would run in and out and in and out and destroy my beautiful 87% conversion rate. To me children were runny noses, unexpected vomiters, coughing in your face, too loud when all you want to do is read your book on your five hour flight annoying.
So why in the world did I decide to work with that?
When we moved to Chicago I knew I did not want to work in retail anymore. I am so thankful I had the opportunity and loved all the wonderful people in the six years I worked there, but I knew I wanted to do something else. Something that gave me a new perspective in life, that gave me unique relationships and that tugged at my heartstrings. Despite never adoring school or enjoying most of the work I was given I always knew I wanted to go to college. Getting my degree was not easy for me, I was not a straight A student by any means. I had to study hard all. the. time. Walking on that stage to receive my diploma with the smoggy LA sunset sinking behind the foothills was one of the most accomplished feelings I had ever had. Because it was. The most accomplished thing I had ever done up to that point. And it was solely me that did it. With the support of so many people in my life of course. Needless to say education is important. I wanted to be apart of a team of people who believed that as well.
I applied for an education focused Americorps and a week later I was given the job. I was placed in a school where the majority of the children come from low income households in a not so safe neighborhood. The principle of the school told me I would be working with kindergartners and first graders. You know, the kids with the runniest noses. I thought to myself “Well here it goes, I haven’t talked to a five year old in probably ten years, I have no idea what I am doing.” I didn’t even know what five year kids were suppose to know at that age or how how they retained information.
So there I was thrown into these classrooms of 30 children each without much of a clue as how to teach them or even really how to talk to them. The first day there I sat in on a class for their morning meeting. The kids trip and tattle and fall into a circle around the rug. Once they are somewhat situated they sing “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” And oh. my.goodness. You know the feeling when your heart just starts to melt out of pure adorableness? That was exactly what happened. And that is exactly what happens to me now on a daily basis. I have the best job, because I get to teach kids how to read. Can you honestly think of anything better than helping kid learn their letters so they can take on the world? I cannot. And every time a child can completely spell his name for the first time, or recite the letter sounds from memory without help is cause for a celebration. We play games, we make crafts, we laugh and be silly. We laugh a lot. Because learning has to be fun. It’s my goal to make reading fun, even when its so hard to sound out words that are not sound-outable or when you just can’t remember how to draw a q. My patience is tested daily, no not daily, hourly. I have been scratched, spit on, punched, been called ” a mean lady” and ” a fat little girl” but it is all forgotten when you are walking down the hall and suddenly feel a little hand being slipped into yours.
They still have unreasonable amounts of snot that trickle from their nose, they cough in my face even after I just urged them to cover their mouths, the amount of tattling they do could drive anyone into a state of craziness. But they are five. And they are still learning. I loved being able to be by their side as they figure out the world that they live in.