Saturday, August 11, 2012

why I do what I do.

Disclaimer: I did not write this beautiful letter. I was just lucky enough to get to participate in a moment that impacted these sweet children.  

This is why I love teaching and volunteering with First Book-Charlotte.  

This is why I am passionate about working with Title I schools and impacting student achievement.  

This is why I do what I do. 

The Cinderella effect of the evening was unique as we arrived at each child’s home.  For the young girl, neighbor ladies who had gathered to assist with hair curling and nail polishing worked with great care.  Their hushed whispers coupled with proud smiles, imbibed the subtle excitement vicariously shared with their little princess.  For the little guy, all attention was focused on ‘the ride’ that had arrived, which only at that moment gave credence to the opportunity afforded their son.

The stark contrast in lifestyles could be felt in the nervous silence as we began our magical journey to the country club.  From an agitated crack exchange as we left the tenements, past verdant pastures, to the columns and manicured lawns of the country club neighborhood, the children’s excitement became palpable.  They were awestruck by the homes which they believed were surely occupied by kings and queens; an unimaginable existence for anyone less.  All at once, I was struck by the weighted difference of what represents my ordinary and theirs, my norm versus their dream, and humbled by the stark reality. 

 The elegance of every fixture and furnishing inside the club met the gaze of the students as they committed their surroundings to beautiful memory.  (“So fancy” she said as she twirled in delight.) The sea of adults costumed in finery, the likes seen only in the movies, was almost overwhelming – save for the smiles and kind words by all who greeted them.  But most unbelievable to the children, and certainly a movie only moment, was gazing out of the windows of the club to the golfers on the green.  “Well, what happens to the balls when they get hit into the ground; where do they go?”

Returning home in the rested silence of a brilliant evening, the glass slipper was shattered by the darkness of the neighborhood adorned only by young thugs on corners brandishing quart bottles.  Despite the sharp contrasts that arrested my senses, the children remained full of delight and hope.  They bubbled about the fun they had and their surprise about how easy it was to talk on the microphone. 
Experiencing the back-story of this gala event has afforded me the raw insight to a different world that exists as almost a parallel universe to my own.  I wanted to share this with you to accentuate the importance of the opportunity you provided for these students.   At the very least, they will remember this first public speaking engagement and be at ease with other opportunities that may present.  However, in a larger way, I believe this has been a through the looking glass experience that may provide subconscious motivation for their future aspirations.  I know this, especially for the little girl, who asked, “Tell me again Mrs. Shaw, how will I get a beautiful home for me and my mama?” 

To hear a child say “books take me to a different world” will forever paint a more powerful image and deeper appreciation of the thoughts their tiny words attempt to convey.  Thank you for all that you do to bring these books into the lives of our students. 


The sweetest speech you will ever hear. 

The best two teachers I know. 

Teachers that spent their birthday and Friday evening helping their students get ready and accompanying them to the Gala as their "dates."

waiting for the kids to arrive with Michelle (friend and fellow board member)

the last two weeks wouldn't be possible without these people. 

 these very far away friends make DC, Philly, KY, and OH seem SO close
 and these townie friends 
are the perfect mix of best friends.

I am so thankful that I am lucky enough to have these girls in my life.