Yesterday, while picking up kids at Emerson Elementary School (home of the Emerson Eagles no less) for our after school program, the principal, Karen Kepler, pointed out the eagle button she was wearing.
“Do you know who gave me this?” she asked.
“John?” I asked.
Yes, it was John. A tear welled up in my eyes.
John is an African American boy in the fourth grade who had been struggling in our after school program. This was a really big deal for him to have this success. No, it’s not academic success, which some may argue is the only measure of success in school, but a real life success that he will never lose.
He got to see and learn about birds of prey first hand. This is the stuff that Richard Louv talks about in his book No child left inside. Louv writes that when kids feel a sense of wonder about the world, their world expands exponentially. John felt that. I could see it in his face that day. I could see it on the bus the day after. And clearly, something inspired him to give that button (that John made) to his principal.
I am grateful for our partnership with Emerson School. Ms. Kepler will follow-up by putting a photo of John in the upcoming newsletter. When John learned about this, he was very excited. John got even more from this trip. He had a great day with his mom. He connected with his principal. He will get needed recognition from his peers at school and after school. He had a positive experience with other kids. He learned a lot about birds and he saw a new place. Our relationship became stronger.
I may never know the full impact of this trip on John, but that’s part of teaching.
Teachers live for these little successes.