May 24, 2013

I Hope They Dance

Yesterday, I had my last volunteer teaching assignment with a class of city school 2nd graders. As always, their enthusiasm and energy completely charmed me. When I walked into the room, a darling little pixie of a girl looked up at me with a toothy grin and said, "I know your name!" I smiled back and said, "Oh, do you now?" She said, "You're Miss Kim!" Well sure enough, she had read my name tag and though I normally use my last name, I couldn't disappoint my clever friend, so for the next 5 hours, I was "Miss Kim!" to 22 little people.

We began the session with each child introducing themselves and telling me what they wanted to be when they grew up. Their aspirations stretched from police officer to pediatrician with a ballerina in the middle. One of the reasons I like to volunteer teach is that I firmly believe that education and love of school is the foundation to achieving those young dreams. If the day I spend in their classroom makes their overall school experience more pleasant, I believe they will be more inclined to stay in school and love to learn. I also believe that a fresh adult invigorates and encourages our youngsters.

We spent the next several hours learning about the difference between unit and assembly line production in our mock doughnut factory exercise. Then we learned about how taxes work to support our communities. We learned some simple civic planning as we researched and voted on what sort of business to bring to our mock community. We finished off with a lively rap song about the way money moves around the community, from the bank to a business, to another business, to a service industry, and eventually back to the bank.

Yesterday's class is in a school district that is plagued with crime and poverty. Something that really impacted me was when we had to do work in our workbook, half the kids didn't have pencils or crayons. The teacher tapped into her supply cabinet that she stocks out of her own pocket and as I imagined she's done 100 times if she's done it once, she gave them the necessary supplies to do the work. Something so many take for granted, like basic school supplies, is something so many of these children don't have. Without assuming too much, I wonder what else they don't have. I may not be able to give them all the things they don't have, but programs like the one I did yesterday give them something different, someone who truly loves them and wants them to succeed. Reinforcing confidence and curiosity. Reminding them how special they are and what potential they hold.

During the last lesson, as the music began to play, my little friends were wiggling with joy. I
children learning and filled with joy
promised that if they paid attention during the first time I played the song, I would play it again and they could show me some moves. The future ballerina led the dancing, doing splits and twists and pirouettes next to her desk. Another group of girls did an impromptu line dance while the little boys busted break dancing moves and moonwalks. The teacher and I caught each other's eyes while we laughed at their beauty and happiness. I am so honored she shared her class with me yesterday.

I don't know what tomorrow holds for my little friends, but I hope it includes the same joy they exploded with yesterday. I hope they always dance.

With love,
"Miss Kim"


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