Yesterday was fun–a day where many things came full circle. At the American school where I teach, I’ve been helping seniors seeking admittance into US and UK universities write and edit their personal statement essays. They are relieved to have that step behind them. My juniors have been writing persuasive speeches which they delivered… beautifully. I am excited about my students’ progress in writing and literary analysis (my AP seniors are reading Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbevilles–a feat for native English speakers). How far they have come since kindergarten was magnified when some tiny trick-or-treaters stopped by from the lower school. Some of the four- year- olds don’t speak English, but, like my students, they will graduate fluent in English, Arabic, and French.
Teaching in a K-12 school has more advantages than academic growth. It creates a community– of students and teachers–of all ages. Those little ones made us smile. Those juniors–sometimes characters when it’s not Halloween–make me smile, too. Seeing how gently and kindly they treated the younger children made me happy. Likewise, in the US school where I taught and my children attended K-12, I saw my son who was full of energy act as a “big brother” to four-year-olds as his senior service project (just as a high school student was to him at that age).
I wouldn’t take anything for having my kids under my roof not only at home but also at work. It meant never missing a holiday party. Now most of my coworkers live in the same apartment complex–many in my building under my same roof. The lower school teachers have been planning costumes and parties for weeks. Thursday on our ride home on the bus, Pocahontas (Emily) sang “Five Little Pumpkins” with one of her students–the daughter of our coworker–and I mentally joined in. The words flooded back as if I were singing with Jasmine (Taylor) and Hercules (Cole) in our old Volvo station wagon. Yesterday I rode to school beside Cleopatra (Julie). I marvel at the stamina, creativity, and patience it takes to parent and teach little ones, and though the Energizer Bunnies/ lower school teachers were exhausted on the ride home yesterday, their planning and work sent a lot of kids home soaring.
Yesterday as I unlocked my classroom before the Halloween games began, I thought of my grandmother. My room is an annex to the main building where my students and I have our own rose garden and birds that sing in the trees outside my open windows. My grandmother taught in a one-room, rural school house, and when I hear the roosters crow as I turn the key, I think she must have heard the same as she prepared to start each day. She taught children of all ages and said she loved it because the older ones looked after the younger students.
I’m so glad my friends, Jodie and Rachel, brought their classes by. Jodie, like me, has grown children in the US. This is her first year abroad. While at church with Rachel last year, someone mistook her baby for my granddaughter. I love that I work with people of all ages from many countries. I like that yesterday my classroom had a span of ages as did my grandmother’s. And I love that we had fun with an American holiday my grandmother celebrated with my sister and me each year.
My Dad’s first cousin, Ellen, recently sent this picture.
It was taken in Gracey, Kentucky where my grandmother had a Halloween party, wrote this warning on the wall, and stood at the top of the stairs dressed as a witch. It remains there today in what’s called The Red House. My sister and I would decorate her living room with the same black cats, skeletons, and pumpkins she had used for that party in the basement before we were born. Her words still remain in that building. She had a lot of fun. She was a lot of fun. I hope she knows that yesterday on another continent Moroccan students celebrated an American tradition and found it fun, too.