Hands Up

Sometimes I sit towards the back of the class as the Grade 5/6 kids gather on the carpet in front of the SmartBoard. The teacher was rolling through a Language lesson this afternoon, and most of the kids were engaged.

I looked at the variety of human beings spread before me. Outgoing, shy, adventurous, cautious … all of that is good. The world needs each of their flavours.

“Jeremy” often asked questions and I got to see hands going up. Quite a few of them, actually, like a little forest.

Every volunteering arm seemed to be straight up – beyond the crown of the head. Some fingers waved frantically. The kids so much wanted to be heard. I loved it.

I thought back many years to a time when I worked with blind children from Grade 5 to Grade 8. The hands of sighted classmates taught me. Grade 5’s showed me the same thing that I saw today. Gradually over the grades, however, the fingers stopped waving, and the height of hands dropped down to shoulder level. And there were far fewer volunteers.

Is this what happens to us human beings as we grow older? Do we gradually forget the zest and the thrill of sharing our thoughts? Yes, for some of us. There often is a dampening, a suppression, a desire not to stand out.

Ah, dear adults … let us return to the waving fingers. Let us stand up and be seen. Let us contribute our uniqueness to the general good. There is much work to be done.

Missing Kids

I’m a retired teacher.  Jody and I didn’t have any children.  I miss kids.

In May, when I knew I was moving to Belmont, I imagined myself volunteering at the  elementary school in town.  Except there isn’t one.  Some local human, sitting with me around the Diner lunch counter, told me that Belmont kids go to school at South Dorchester Elementary, on a country road a few kilometres south of the village.

Six months later, I hadn’t made any move towards being a presence at the school.  And still I was missing kids.  So yesterday I ventured along the beauty of Crossley-Hunter Line.  And there on my left was my beige brick destination.  It was lunch recess.

As I walked into the office, I sure hoped the principal would welcome another volunteer.  I talked to the secretary (Trish?) for a few minutes.  She seemed nice.  And then I asked to speak to the principal.  Lynn told me a bit about the school.  It was a small place – just 200 students.  Perfect.  She said I’d have to go through a police check at the station in nearby St. Thomas.  Did I know where it was?  In the spirit of winning friends and influencing people, I said “Oh yes.  I’ve made use of their luxurious accommodations many a time.”  Lynn smiled.

As we wandered through Lynn’s “ten cent tour”, I asked if the staff were intelligent (or maybe if they were nice people).  All this within earshot of two teachers chatting near their classrooms.  “Definitely.”  More smiles.

I suppose I should have been more discreet on first meeting, given that I wanted to become a part of the school.  Oh well.  Discretion is not my middle name.

Up next was the OPP station (Ontario Provincial Police).  Fill in the form, sit down and wait for the response.  And it was “You need to be fingerprinted.”  Ouch.  I’ve done lots of fingerpainting but never the printing stuff.  I’m pretty sure I’m not a hardened criminal.  But that’s okay.  My ink session is next Thursday.

I’m hoping that by the first of December I’ll be accepted sufficiently at South Dorchester to do my usual Christmas schtick … reciting Twas The Night Before Christmas.  I love doing that.

Yesterday evening I went to a fish fry at the Belmont Arena.  The girl plunking a bun on my plate looked to be elementary-aged.  So I asked her about the school and she said the teachers are great.  Yay!  A character reference.  Later I asked three other kids the same question.  Their mom smiled and the children pondered.  They like it, and I got that their responses were genuine, not just mouthing stuff that would please an adult.

So … my educational future beckons.  May there be a place for me.