Writing from the loving arms of home. It is good to reflect on today’s earlier events from MRA Reading Conference. The MRA president began the keynote session with these instructions: “Put your hand on your heart. Can you feel it beating? You have the heart of a teacher.” As we kept our hands on our hearts she inspired us with all the elements of a teacher’s heart… takes a beating everyday…it breaks…we give pieces of our hearts away but you put heart in the pages of tomorrow…you put hope in the heart of your students. You make a difference. (condensed version)
Dr. Thomas Maridada (superintendent of Pontiac School District) inspired us with his story of his childhood. His family immigrated from Brazil and lived in the projects where you could “smell the stench of poverty”. His family included several siblings who were raised by a single mom who told all of them, “You are going to college. I don’t know how but you will find a way. ” The siblings made a pact to help each other by often working two jobs. The college graduates would help the younger siblings until they made it through. Now sitting at their mother’s table is an educator, a lawyer, a doctor, and an accountant. They all went to college. The audience of teachers were told:
We act like we are powerless. We allow others to make us feel inferior. No one can make you feel inferior unless you give them permission. We are the experts. Your excellence is not dependent upon anyone else or circumstances. You are enough. You have the power to empower. Education is the great equalizer.
We were asked to stand up and say: “With these hands, with this heart, with this mind, I can do anything.” Make them feel like giants. Practice today what you are going to be tomorrow.
The exhibit hall had packed up and gone home on Sunday evening so no book browsing and buying…well, until I got home to put a few items in my Amazon cart. 🙂 I’m sharing a book from one of my favorite storytellers, Patricia Polacco. I pull this one off my shelf quite often; Thank You, Mr. Falker. Patricia Polacco is a storyteller that can make you feel like you are riding a roller coaster of emotion. Thank You, Mr. Falker is a tribute to a teacher Patricia had. Patricia (must read for more inspiration) had a very difficult time learning to read and she kept it a secret for a long time from her teachers. Mr. Falker discovered that she couldn’t read and intervened by getting her the help she needed. The inside story is that several years later that Patricia, as an adult, sees the frail elderly Mr. Falker at a wedding reception. She walks up to him, “Do you remember me? I’m Patricia Polacco. You were my teacher.” She tells him of the impact that he had on her life. She then asks, ” Do you know what I do for a living? I write children’s books.” Powerful stuff. We often don’t know what impact we have. You have the power to create a legacy.