Monday, May 9, 2011

23 Joyful Faces

As the rest of the country debates whether or not the President should release photos of Osama Bin Laden (if you want my personal opinion, and I know you do, I think not), but anyway, as everyone else is debating this, I have some images that I do think everyone should see:  The faces of my First Grade students as they walked hand in hand with their moms into our classroom on Friday morning for our annual Muffins with Moms celebration.  The sheer joy, pride, and excitement on everyone’s faces were both palpable and infectious.

We had been preparing for this event for weeks!  Months, really, if you consider that we made our clay handprints back in March.  (As we were wrapping up the handprints earlier this week several kids commented:  “Um, Mrs. J., I don’t even remember making these.  How long ago was it?”)  As the saying goes, “The early bird gets the worm.” Or, as in my case, the early bird gets the kiln!

The weeks leading up this big event were spent weaving construction-paper placemats, making tissue-paper corsages, illustrating our If You Give a Mom a Muffin book, practicing songs and poems, and, of course, writing.

And oh, the writing!  My favorite part for sure.  This year, we had so much fun writing about our moms that we did it not once, not twice, but three times! Yep, three days in a row of writing center were devoted to mom.  Reading what the kids write on a regular day is one of the highlights of my job, but reading what they write about their moms is priceless.  (On Friday I shared with you some of the snippets that made me smile and laugh out loud.  If you didn’t get a chance to read them, and if you are feeling in need of a little pick me up, I highly recommended you take a moment to go back and do so.)

The kids were beyond thrilled with all of the preparations and were ready for the big day to get here already, which it did (finally!) on Friday morning.  I tell ya’, watching the kids march in with their moms was only the beginning of what I wish everyone could see. Next came seeing them pull out the chairs for their moms, followed by witnessing them trying to pin the corsages on them.  Now that was a sight to behold! 

I don’t even think I can pick a favorite moment from our morning together.  Was it hearing the kiddos reading their books to their moms with the moms’ oohh’s and aahh’s in the background?  Or was it looking at the pride on the childrens’ faces as they served their moms breakfast?  Might it have been the looks of love and joy on the moms’ faces as their children sang to them and recited our Mother’s Day poem?  Yes, yes, and yes!

Despite the headlines that say public education is in the tank and that nothing good at all is happening, I must beg to differ.  Oh sure, things are a mess, no doubt about it.  But guess what, folks?  Great things continue to happen each and every day.  Not just down here in First Grade, and not just here where I live, but in classrooms all over the country…teachers continue to inspire, children continue to want to learn, and parents continue to want to be the bridge between the two. 

So say what you want about us “greedy” teachers with our “lavish” salaries…oh, and by the way, can we just once a for all give a dictionary to those who continue to use lavish in the same sentence with teacher salaries?  I welcome you to compare the hours I work to the pay I take home.  Lavish…talk about something that makes me laugh out loud!  And let’s not forget who bought the muffins, drinks, paper goods, crafts, and everything else that was needed to make Friday such a wonderful event.  Am I tooting my own horn or complaining?  No!  Am I pointing out some simple facts?  You betcha’!

My own daughter asked me, as she saw me prepare for the big day, “Mom, what would happen if you just didn’t do anything?  I mean, do you have to do stuff for Mother’s Day?”  I so appreciated her concern for the time, energy, and resources it takes me to pull off an event like this, and I was thrilled she noticed, but truth be told I can’t imagine not doing it.  Especially now when so much threatens to be cut.  These are the things the kids will remember about their early elementary school years. 

Years from now when they no longer remember my name and the names of all of the friends they so joyfully play with each and every day, I can guarantee you they will remember Muffins with Moms in First Grade.  It is an honor for me to be a part of it.  I feel privileged that I get to bear witness to it.  And it is something I truly wish everyone could see.  You all can keep your photos of Osama…I’ll take the image of 23 joyful faces and 23 proud moms any day of the week!

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