May. 4, 2016

The Second Grade Poem Party...

“How To Be A Friend”

F-ind something in common.

R-espect other students’ space – property – ideas.

I-nvite and include kids to participate.

E-mpathy – show YOU care.

N-Know when to support each other.

D-Do the right thing – even when no one is looking.

S-ay you’re sorry – everyone makes mistakes.”

There you have it, the simplest way to be a friend ever written. This is up on the front wall of Mrs. Sumners’ second grade classroom at Wally W. Watkins Elementary School in Wylie, Texas where our granddaughter, Miss Jessie Brown, is a student.  

Wylie, Texas at the moment is a devastated city, having just experienced the hailstorm of the century where softball-sized hail fell from the sky, right through roofs, car windshields, windows. Everywhere one looks in Wylie one sees an overpowering vista of blue tarps on roofs and plywood over windows. Wylie folks are sleeping on friend’s couches, spare rooms, hotels, and families are working hard to cope.

Can you even imagine softball-sized hail falling from the sky at speeds up to 90 miles an hour? No wonder the roofs of Wylie are damaged.

But life goes on, and Jessie’s second grade class poem party took place while I was there. Watching 19 second graders under the supervision of their substitute teacher, Mrs. Bratton, (stomach flu was felling teachers right and left) take their places in alphabetical order, seated on the floor with their little legs crossed Indian-style, poems clutched in their sweaty little hands was sheer delight. It took a while, but seating success was achieved. Jessie calmly waited her turn and we were thrilled to see this little person take her place and with just a little help and support from the teacher, read her poem aloud.

All small children have voices which can be heard for miles...especially in restaurants...public bathrooms...church and just about anyplace you’d like them to use that famous “inside” voice. In honor of the poem party, all children involved used their totally inaudible voices but we got to watch them go through their carefully practiced program. We did see their poems later, decorated with a photo of themselves and in their own handwriting. Parents lowered themselves to second grade chairs with minimal joint creaking and groaning (that was me, actually) and their faces shone with pride. Seriously! Seeing these little people stand up at a podium and read their words is enough to bring anybody to tears.

Jessie’s “I Am Poem” let us know that: I am a girl. I hear noise. I see the smart board. I want popcorn. I feel happy. I touch flowers. I worry about spiders. I cry when someone takes my stuff. I understand reading. I say please. I dream of school. I hope I have a great home. I am Jessie.

After all 19 second graders had presented their poem, they served their parents grapes, tiny donuts, cinnamon rolls and orange juice. They were very efficient, there was very little spilling and everywhere I looked parents bursting with pride. Jessie’s Daddy, Chris, sat next to me and we couldn’t have had a better time. Her mommy snagged a seat right in front of the podium – demonstrating once again that there are two groups of people: the quick and the sorry!

Wally W. Watkins Elementary School takes my breath away with their emphasis on kindness, friendliness, acceptance and achievement. I think Jessie pretty much said it all. I worry about spiders, and touch flowers as often as possible, too.

No wonder Jesus liked little kids so much...they probably told Him they were happy and didn’t like spiders.

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:14