“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11
I apologize for neglecting my blog since January. Especially because I have so many pictures of adorable children that I have kept from you!
Since January at Encore, we have had a Mardi Gras parade, where the kids made their own masks and floats and marched in a parade around the school, complete with throws (beads and gifts that are thrown into the crowd).
I watched them learn and get excited when they understood a new concept. Here’s a video of second graders getting excited because they got a perfect score on a class quiz:
I tested every second grader on two different reading tests to see how many levels they had improved and determine if they were ready for third grade. In one test every second grader had to read me a short book and answer comprehensive questions about the story. If they passed a book they read another one until it became a challenge. It was so exciting for them because I got to tell them how smart they were every time they grew a level. But sometimes it was frustrating for me because I heard the same stories over and over and second graders…read….very….slowly…
Second grade made their own cookbook. Every kid picked a recipe and hand wrote it out and edited it so it could be almost perfect. They took pictures where they dressed up like a chefs. The book was published into hardcopy books and they are very cute. The kids in the homeroom I worked in signed my copy like a yearbook. I’m keeping it forever.
Second grade went on field trips for a week while the older kids did state testing. We went to a roller-skating rink where I saw them on the best behavior I’ve ever seen. They helped each other (and me) up when they fell, the held hands as they went around in circles. There were no fights and no screaming. It was like magic. We also went to a space museum and a insect museum that were a little less organized and a lot more crazy.
We had another Family Friday where the kids performed for their parents what they had learned in their theatre, music and dance classes.
I watched them fall apart hilariously and annoyingly towards the end of the year. They just went crazy and did whatever they felt like doing. Some were more outgoing than others, like these kids who felt like dancing instead of singing. Keep in mind, this is at breakfast…first thing in the morning…8:30.
And finally, I said goodbye to the kids I came to love so much. I had spent all year building relationships with these second graders and I came to enjoy them as people rather than just little kids. I spent time getting to know them. I know what they like and dislike, how most of them respond best when they are acting out, what makes them laugh, and, for some kids, things that make their lives difficult. I felt emotional connections with so many of these kids and it was hard to say goodbye.
There were a lot of tears (all from me) leading up to the last day of school. Of course I’m going to miss them, but I also feel bad sometimes for leaving. I was in their lives for only a short amount of time and now I’m done. My time is up. And if these kids remember me, I’m afraid they’ll only remember how I disappeared after a year. I’m doing my best to remember the good things I did this year. I helped quite a few second graders with their reading and according to a couple of kids that I asked leading questions to, I was a nice teacher. I hope and pray that that’s how they’ll remember me. And I pray they will remember me that way for as long as I’ll remember them. This has been the most difficult and rewarding year of my life and I will never forget the experiences I have gained here at Encore.
So what’s next? This summer, Jean and I are working in the office at the school helping with data entry and organization for next year. In August I’ll go home and have a month to spend with my family before …wait for it…a second YAV year! I will be returning to New Orleans for a second year of volunteering, but at a very different site placement. I will save details for when I have more, but here is the website for my site placement next year: http://www.edenhousenola.org
Please pray for all the children in this country and around the world who have difficult lives. Children whose parents don’t pay enough attention, or who live in unsafe homes, or who can’t communicate what they need except through screaming. Pray for those children who need God’s arms wrapped around them because they don’t have anyone on Earth who will hug them. And send people like teachers who will love them as much as God does. And pray for me and my housemates as we discern our next steps in life and embark on new adventures and challenges.